Transformative Magic Power of Gratitude

I want to write about one of the not so awesome parts of the human condition condition….. I don’t really know why we humans find it so much easier to complain about life, then we do to really revel in the insane amount of blessings we each possess in almost every single moment. Do we learn this behavior from our parents and society? Is it related to the fight or flight instinct? I can’t imagine that this is the natural condition of being alive – kvetching, complaining and always wanting situations to be different. I imagine that if I googled ‘why do humans focus on negativity?’ I likely will get a plethora of scientific and psychological reasons why we do this….. but really, I am not interested in the why. Why is generally not a helpful question and can lead to all kinds of victim answers. I am more interested in what this ungrateful attitude is trying to teach us, and how to let out the attitude of gratitude (cliché I know but I love it).

How is complaining and wanting life to be different helpful?

Well, it makes a person seek improvement and that is a good thing. Dissatisfaction creates yearning and craving for change. However mostly dissatisfaction leads to comparison… Comparing what we have to other people. For me anyway, focusing on the negative leads to great feelings of failure and always looking at what I am not as opposed to what I am. Complaining can also make those around me feel less then, because I don’t like how they are and I would like them to change. Always wanting my life to improve doesn’t let me see what I have—And this is why the constant focus on what we don’t have and how we wish our life was different is ultimately not helpful for joy, peace and feeling abundant.

Bonding with Trees is such a simple pleasure that I am over the Moon grateful for!

Wouldn’t it be amazing if everyday in almost every moment we were able to see the blessings all around us?!!?! And not just recognize them, revel in them! Okay so perhaps in this moment I have physical pain in an area of my body, however there isn’t any pain in all the other areas— Yet I feel the dire need to focus on and tell everyone about the pain area. So funny, why don’t I just wake up and tell my partner, by the way my arms and knees feel great! Wouldn’t that start the day better then waking up and saying, my blah blah blah hurts, as usual. Well, ya know as usual my toes are doing awesome and I got some great elbows, hardly ever give me pain… seems like focusing on that might improve my life. An attitude of gratitude would wake up and say, “Damn my eyes are working wonderful today! I am so happy I can see colors and clouds and your beautiful face.”

Complaining is a type of stress and anxiety, and we all know the harmful effects stress can have on the body. Perhaps every time we say a negative affirmation be it about ourselves or others, a type of yucky serum is put into our bodies. I really am not trying to be Pollyanna about this. I do not think being superficial and happy all the time is the way to go either. I love the shadow. I believe in being real, and rage as well as grief are sometimes part of this experience. Feeling feelings is not the same as complaining. Being present is not ignoring life.

I truly am the ultimate stop and smell the flowers type person and I am sure this has kept me from opportunities and success—I might have been better off going after something then watching birds. However for me it is in the stopping and smelling flowers that allow the magic to rush in…. the magic of light on the petals. The splendor of the smell of wet leaves. The rustling of the trees communicating messages to me.

Is it even possible to be present, not complain and except life exactly as it is? It has got to be possible even though I am not a person skilled in this ability.

I really do believe we have barely begun to tap into the magic power of our brains, our feelings and our imaginations.

The holiday of Thanksgiving is an odd one… The foundations of this ‘holiday’ are dark and involve injustice and slaughter… not to mention the over 46 million turkeys that are killed each year just for thanksgiving. I have some good Turkey friends and I can attest that turkeys are smart, curious, loving creatures. Underneath the history and the food, for many this is a day to come together with loved ones and be grateful. Gratitude is something we can honor and focus on every single day, not just at Thanksgiving. If we could use this time of year as fuel to remind ourselves to be grateful even for the simplest of things, this would allow us to ruminate on the positive more than the negative. In any given situation, instead of focusing on the one thing that is pissing us off…we can choose to give attention to all the wonderful things instead.

Start a gratitude journal writing 5 things everyday you are grateful for. Give yourself a challenge (And I am going to try it too!) Can we not complain for one day? Two days? Three days in a row?  We, all of us who are here reading this article, are privileged. Yeah life is far from perfect. Maybe it’s not meant to be perfect. Maybe the perfect life we think everyone has but us, isn’t actually really a thing. Perhaps we can wake up grateful for another day to experience this life and all it has to offer.

In this moment I can complain about a gazillion things—whether it is the injustice and cruelty of this world or the horror of our political system, the inadequacy of the people around me, my inability to manifest my goals and my negative self talk and I could to on and on…  I can feel how familiar these complaints are in my body. But what if instead… I focused on all the amazing people fighting for social, environment and animal justice, and all I could see was the wonder and perfection of those around me, and I reveled in the joy of every gig I do, every job I get, every smile I share, every cloud and tree I see… to embody this, to be grateful. Maybe just maybe we could create a more compassionate, joyful and just world for everyone. Maybe just maybe we could wake up every day with an attitude of gratitude and live from our magic within.