The word that kept pushing into my consciousness over the last few days ... is ... GRATITUDE.
Hmmm ... I was trying to think of something more interesting, attention grabbing or thought provoking. Gratitude has been 'done to death', has it not? 'Develop an attitude of gratitude' the saying goes ... and plenty of people have plenty to say. Can I really add anything to what's already been said? I'm doubtful. But, in my consciousness, 'gratitude' persists!
So, what can I say about gratitude? Well, gratitude has been my friend, when I open the door of my heart and let it in, or, let it out. When you think about it, it does go both ways. And yes, I confess, sometimes I don't open the door. Sometimes I choose not to think about all the things I have to be grateful for. Or, worse, I'm aware of those things and not seeing them through a gratitude lens.
How has gratitude been my friend? When I am grateful I am not miserable, or envious, or even impatient. I might still feel sad, or angry about some things, but these feelings don't feel so overwhelming when they sit alongside gratitude. When I am grateful, I'm more aware of what I have, in both my inner and outer worlds. When I am grateful, I don't feel so anxious about what might be or how I might manage - because it seems that this increased awareness provides evidence that there will always be things to be grateful for, whatever my circumstances.
Once you let gratitude in, it seems to take up a lot of room in your heart - there's enough to share and it does seem to have a two-way flow. When you look around and feel grateful, you are drawing it in. When you interact with others from a position of gratitude, you are letting it out.
I decided to really challenge myself. How about trying to feel grateful in a situation that was frustrating, sad or distressing in some other way? Mmmmm. Can't I just be angry, or sad, or distressed? Well, I can still be all those things - and probably need to be - they are valid emotions and appropriate to the situation/s. However, could I find something in these situations to be grateful about? And, if I did, how did that impact on my overall feelings about the situation?
So, give it a go, I did! There were a number of situations that caused me distress. I looked at each one and, yes honestly, there was something to be grateful for in each of them. I was grateful for the kindness of others, for the opportunity to see something from a different view, for witnessing the indomitability of the human spirit, for the laughter of a child, for the joy that comes from small things. I was grateful for moments of laughter alongside sorrow. Really, I could keep going! There were so many things to be grateful for - things that I would not have experienced if I had not had the experience itself. My view of situaitons shifted somewhat and, whilst they still make me feel sad or frustrated, those feelings do not overwhelm me, because they sit alongside gratitude.
The current Syrian crisis has drawn our attention to the plight of many who have sought to escape tyranny and terror. 'Those less fortunate than us' seems to be a ridiculous understatement. Whatever our political position, when seeing what others suffer, we cannot help but be humbled and feel grateful for what we have. Some of us are moved to participate in a vigil, lobby the government, donate money, or become involved in some other way.
However we feel moved when we see what is happening in the world around us, I think we would all be moved at least to be grateful.