Though I live in Canada and it is not Thanks Giving here - I try to make every day Thanks giving. Gratitude is a practice that connects me to deep joy and i find myself stopping in my tracks many times a day to notice a little thing that I feel so lucky for. I think this practice has made me feel like one of the most lucky people on earth and I want you to feel that way too!
I have had the luxury of being able to feel grateful my whole life! I am so grateful for that. I was raised by parents who instilled in me a deep value for helping other people. My parents involved me in volunteering when I was a little girl and when I was 21 I went to India to work in service projects. I was overwhelmed to see the happiness and generosity of the people I encountered in one of the small villages where I worked. I made friends with a 16 year old girl who's job it was to haul water from miles away and walk four hours to the closest place where she could buy rice. She carried the rice home on her head and then insisted I come in for supper. She went outside and picked leaves of a tree which she fired and fed me. I forced her to eat with me and she told me that she would be in trouble if her family knew i was sharing my food with her because the guest is supposed to eat the most. I later found out that those leaves were all they had to eat and I cried for hours that night because she insisted that I eat them.
I realized right then how lucky I was to have more than enough food to live on and I thought of the years that I had lived with an eating disorder. I realized what a luxury it was to have the ability to choose starvation when so many people on this planet starve because they are not fortunate enough to have food. I was so touched that she could reach out to me and try to help me feel comfortable even though she had a lot of difficulties that she was going through. I realized that she and I had different ways of dealing with the difficulties that life had presented to us. She was more focused on sharing her luck and helping others feel comfortable than she was on worrying about the lack of food and money in her house. She felt lucky to know me and happy for our friendship and blessed to have another young woman to walk to the village with and talk to. This experience at such a young age really made an impact on the way I thought about things.
I began to really think about the things that I took for granted; food,, clothes, a really nice house, family and education. I started to wake up to what a gift it was that I would never be forced to get married when I was 16. I would never be told that I was not allowed to study. I had the luxury, as a woman, to be able to run and do yoga and move my body in whatever way i liked without being thought of as promiscuous. Such simple things that so many people do not have. My voice and freedom began to feel like a privilege and I began to think about how I could use these gifts to help others.
I traveled to Delhi where so many street people suffered from leprosy. I always gave them money but did not really know the depth of their plight until a child of about 12 years came to me crying. He kept saying I am so hungry. He literally had a rag around his waist to just hide his genitals. I could see his ribs and there was a black abscess in his tummy. People approached him and threw rocks at him and told him not to bother me. I grabbed him and put my arms around him and told the others to help him find food. I gave him money and he told me he needed food because nobody would allow him into a shop to buy anything. This still haunts me today. I am so damn lucky to be healthy, clean and have access to everything that I need.
I think it is so easy for us to forget how lucky we are when we live in warm houses and have all of the clothes, food and love we need.
There are so many things that we have that we take for granted.
Friends and family
Society that understands and helps us deal with trauma
The right to speak up and express our feelings
These are things that are so easy to take for granted. It is so easy to carry on with daily life without even knowing that there are people who are suffering.
Practice Radical Gratitude
Every day, thank the universe for simple things that you have.
Give thanks for butterflies, chocolate, warm blankets, hugs, time spent with family.
Just start to be aware of all of the simple things that you have that bring you joy and comfort.
This will help you feel alive in joy every single day of your life and help you navigate through times of sadness, confusion and suffering.
Gratitude helps you feel humble and abundant. It shifts lack mentality into prosperity mentality!
Gratitude helps you become more empathetic and more empathy equals more joy for all beings.
As you become more aware of your blessings you may begin to feel like paying it forward. Think of little ways that you can affect someone else's day in a positive way. Hold a door open for a lady with a baby carriage. Give somebody food or a blanket if they need it. Smile at the stranger who looks sad on the street, offer to listen to a friend who is going through a hard time. Offer your left over food to the birds and animals who might need it. Extend yourself in love in any little way you can. Volunteer for a cause that is dear to you. Donate money to causes that inspire you. These simple acts of kindness help increase the contentment, joy and peace of all beings.
When you find yourself feeling like you wish you had something you didn't, remind yourself of what you do have and take a moment to let that luck soak in! When we shift our focus from what we don't have to what we do we live with so much more peace and joy!
One day, I was doing a reading for a lady and so many spirits kept coming in and thanking her for lighting candles on her altar. They were saying different things about the candles: that they helped them find their way to heaven, that they helped their pain go away, that they helped them find peace. I asked her what they were talking about and she said that she lights candles every Sunday to help all souls find peace. I would love to encourage you to begin lighting candles for peace. I truly feel that if we all begin to live more alive in the energy of gratitude we can change things for all beings!
Many blessings to you! May the joy of what you have give you peace and may you share that peace with all beings!
When gratitude wakes up in every heart we will live together, loving and supporting each other!