“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” Eckhart Tolle
Gratitude? What the hell have I got to be grateful for?
Well I guess that would depend very much at how you look at life?
Gratitude is defined as being; the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful.
It is a woefully underused sentiment. In all honesty is there one person on the planet who has absolutely nothing to be grateful for? I’m fairly convinced that the overwhelming answer would be of ”course there is, there must be millions of people who have absolutely nothing in their lives.” If we were to take that sweeping statement at face value then most of us I’m sure would be inclined to agree.
The reality however is that we all of us have that one vital thing, which without it, we would none of us be able to be grateful for anything ever and that quite simply is the gift of life.
So whilst it’s fair to say that a millionaire stockbroker having lost his fortune due to bad choices would lament that all was lost, by the same token it would also be fair to say that the homeless guy sleeping in a shop doorway down the street would thank his lucky stars if someone bought him a bacon butty for breakfast. Everything is relative!
My life today is so different to what it very nearly turned out to be. In late 2012 and faced with declining health due to extremely poor lifestyle choices, I was told I would not be around long enough to bear witness to the lives my children & grandchildren would come to carve out for themselves. More by good luck than judgement it was a reality which didn’t come to pass and several weeks after being told to prepare myself for the worst I walked out of the hospital on my own two feet to resume my life.
My new life! One which was to be built upon a rock solid foundation of GRATITUDE
New because the instant I was faced with my mortality and I knew without a shadow of a doubt that were I (regardless of the manner) given a second shot at life then I would grab it firmly and things from that point on would be very different. Some would say that the feelings of desperation & panic associated with finding out that you were about to die would naturally result in promises being made that things would change if you didn’t, only for them to be swept away on the tide of euphoria following a sudden, unexpected upturn in your fortunes. For me I was instinctively aware that I could not allow that to happen for fear of descending into the behaviour patterns that had caused my situation in the first place.
I have to say that in the first weeks of being allowed home & looking forward to being around for a while longer the first word I decided to incorporate into my new daily vocabulary rather than gratitude was that of responsibility. It was to become the cornerstone of the foundations upon which I slowly but surely came to rebuild my life. Once I made the step of assuming that which many struggle to do and took responsibility for my life, all of it my choices, my attitude, my thoughts & my outlook began to change, almost imperceptibly at first but things were different somehow. I was different. I knew without reservation that going forward my life would not only be different it would be all the better for it!
The realisation that by taking responsibility for and therefore by default ownership of my life its past, its present and its future I had opened myself up to the possibility of choice.
My first choice going forward then from that point was the easiest one I have ever made it was & remains that of the choice of gratitude.
In order to underpin my newly made decision to actively practice gratitude I had to seriously contemplate how best to ensure it remained a major player in my new life and to the extent that it became as natural as breathing. I realised that to try to adopt what essentially would be a completely new way of thinking, I had to rid myself of each and every one of the self-limiting, self-destructive thought patterns I had learned along the way in the previous 50 something years. That thought alone absolutely terrified me. Those same thoughts and beliefs after all had been my faithful and constant companions for literally my whole life. Never mind that they, in cahoots with their bed mates Bi Polar Disorder, paranoia, OCD & a shed load of addictive traits just for the hell of it had, along with my all too willing compliance, allowed them to ride rough shod over a mind which had relinquished ownership and had opted to exist as if being remotely controlled!!!
And so began the eviction of the squatters in my mind………. I forced myself to go back and think, really think about how & why I had made the life choices that I had, perhaps not unsurprisingly the first evictee was that of blame, blaming others for the choices I had made based on historical events as opposed to those of the here and now. So out went blame and in moved responsibility. Next it was the turn of self-pity, out went the ”why me” syndrome to be replaced by the much healthier alternative of ”why not me.” The list of the unwanted bats in my particular belfry grew smaller as the weeks went by and come Christmas 2012 just 3 short months since the news of my expected impending doom I was celebrating the festivities with my family & friends. It felt right somehow to be celebrating the gift of a second chance in life at just the time when millions of others were giving thanks for the birth of a baby boy who was to bring us the values of peace & goodwill to all men. The more I replaced the old negative self talk with positive affirmations the happier I felt. It became a surprisingly easy habit to form and with it the absolute certain knowledge that everything in life is a choice and that same choice can if we allow it provide us with the solid foundations to build not only a happy & positive life but one filled with gratitude and love.
The restoration of my hard wiring after I decided to reboot my mindset continued apace and I know will do so for as long as I’m in residence on this 3rd rock from the sun. So now moving forward and going back to my original question;
Gratitude? What the hell have I got to be grateful for?
I would simply say this; I now realise that everything that has ever happened to me is part of the reason I am who I am today. The good, the bad, the indifferent, all of it. So I am grateful for my less than perfect childhood, I am grateful for the poor lifestyle choices I have made along the way, grateful for the jobs I’ve had and lost, grateful for my family & friends, grateful that you’re reading this post of mine because by definition that means we’re both of us alive and for that my gratitude knows no bounds.
I can truly say that at this point in my life I am happier, healthier, more whole than ever before and better still alive I am mindful that every new day brings with it the opportunity of choice and the right to choose to be happy and that my friend is a pretty damn good reason to be grateful.
I can honestly say that when we are grateful for the things we have, we suddenly become so very aware of just how much more there truly is to be grateful for.