Thursday, January 19, 2012
The Power of Gratitude
Last year I did two to six minute gratitude meditations every morning. Sometimes I did them before I even got out of bed. Other times I did them sitting at my computer, petting Meme, and just breathing. Still other times I actually meditated on gratitude as I did some rote chore I'd done a million times. Sometimes I just found a quiet place to sit and sat. On a couple of mornings, my feelings of gratitude appeared without a conscious meditation. Each morning (okay sometimes it was afternoon) I posted one thing from that gratitude meditation as my Facebook status. I stopped posting a gratitude statement daily when the new year started even though I still meditated on gratitude every morning and wrote in my gratitude journal every night before I slept.
Last night as I sat staring at the television not comprehending the show playing, I realized I hadn't started my morning with a gratitude meditation in several days. It wasn't intentional. I have a host of excuses. My sleep pattern has been off. My routine has been interrupted. I have some personal issues I'm trying to resolve. I've struggled to focus on my writing. Chores have gone undone. I've had a couple of disappointments. So my frame of mind hasn't been particularly grateful or even positive.
Interestingly, one of the projects I need to be working on is a book on how spending a year focused on gratitude changed my life. It's hard to write about gratitude when you feel like all the changes you thought you'd encountered are taking a beating. You can imagine how well work on that particular project progressed this week. Yet, I sense that immersing myself in it will actually bring a whole new set of lessons to my life.
I sat there staring into the flames watching them change shape and just thinking "Gratitude" over and over until I actually started to realize I have things for which I am grateful. I was mesmerized as the flames almost seemed to spike with each moment of gratitude I felt and die down with each negative thought that presented a "yeah, but..." and spike again with each positive thought. This may have been my imagination, but I don't care, it took me where I needed to go. I felt my body surrender to the idea that if I open my heart and my mind, the answers will present themselves when the time is right. Of course, this doesn't absolve me of doing the work I need to do to find those answers, but it does remind me that there's only so much I can control.
One of the things I can control is my outlook. I can focus on the problem, or I can focus on the solution. I can focus on the negative, or I can focus on the positive. I can feel gratitude for the good, or wallow in misery over the bad. I can accept reality, or I can practice willful blindness. I can take action, or I can do nothing. I have the power within to do my part, but I can't do someone else's part. I can bring my best, or I can give up. I can give in, or I can fight for what's right. In the end, all I can control is how I handle each moment.
And, for that I am grateful.
That is the power of gratitude, my friends!
T. L. Cooper grew up on a farm in Tollesboro, Kentucky. She earned a Bachelor of Science from Eastern Kentucky University. Her poems, short stories, articles, and essays have appeared online, in books, and in magazines. Her published work includes a novel, All She Ever Wanted and four books of poetry. When not writing, she enjoys yoga, golf, and traveling. Currently, she resides in Albany, Oregon.