My wish for you is PEACE of mind, JOY of heart, HEALTH of body, GRATITUDE for blessings, KINDNESS both given and received, INSPIRATION that fuels CREATIVITY, and GRACE—the immediate presence of Spirit.
I’m incredibly grateful. Not only the part of the globe we live on—the Pacific Northwest in the United States—but for our specific town, Boise, Idaho. It’s quite possibly one of the friendliest places on earth.
Boise is quite possibly one of the friendliest places on earth
The words “gratitude” and “grace” share a common origin: the Latin word gratus, meaning “pleasing” or “thankful.” The Association for Humanistic Psychology defines gratitude as “Orientation towards noticing and appreciating the positive in the world.”
University of California Davis psychology professor Robert Emmons’ research revealed that grateful people tend to be more optimistic, a characteristic that literally boosts the immune system—a clear PHYSICAL benefit.
Boise offers free smells (good ones) too
Dr. Alex Wood, a postgraduate researcher in the Department of Psychology, University of Warwick, said that “Gratitude is an integral part of well-being”—a distinct benefit to our MENTAL and EMOTIONAL faculties.
Gratitude boosts whole health
Gratitude helps to open the heart, the seat of compassion. It helps us to see the good in our experience. It enhances trust and helps us to forgive—a benefit to our SPIRITUAL aspect.
How do you weave gratitude into the tapestry of your life?
When we saw this trailer overflowing with bicycles galore, I thought, Holy cow, that’s a lot of bicycles! I don’t know who owns them or why they have so many, but clearly their “cup runneth over.”
For the rest of the walk I wondered, what do I have a lot of? Certainly nothing tangible in that quantity. But I have a heckofa lot of intangibles to be grateful for: peace, joy, and whole health—body, mind, and spirit. In fact, my cup runneth over!
On September 28 I begin the 59th year of my life. My fifties have been grand, and I have so much to be thankful for. In no particular order, following is a list of 59 things that I am tremendously grateful for:
Breathing—the ability to breathe with ease
My senses: taste, touch, vision, hearing, smell, equilibrium, intuition, and my sense of humor
Health — body, mind, and spirit
Connection with divinity, family, friends, and companion animals
A world of ethnic cuisine to enjoy (especially Asian)
Books and libraries
Farmers—”no farms, no food”
Pollinators such as bees, butterflies, hummingbirds
Gentle dog groomers who work with animals without scaring them
Mountains, log cabins
Oceans, lakes, rivers, streams
Music and singing (I’m a rock star in the car!)
Exercise: yoga, bicycle riding, swimming, hiking
First responders: Red Cross, firefighters, police, paramedics
Teachers who make positive, life-long impressions on their students
Healing: traditional, complementary, integrative, and alternative
Color (especially green)
Treats: peppermint ice cream, red licorice, BBQ chips
Flying with a safety conscious pilot (Len) who keeps the ease of his passengers — seasoned or otherwise — in mind
Mental acuity: focus, memory, concentration, and understanding
Comfort with being alone (enjoy my own company), personal getaways
Sunrises and sunsets
Drinkable water that flows from a tap
A roof over our heads
Proximity: we can walk or ride our bicycles to everything we need
Indoor plumbing, electricity
Volunteers and humanitarians such as hospice, Amnesty International, Greenpeace, Sea Shepherd, Conservation Society, Doctors Without Borders, Habitat for Humanity, and Conservation International
Color blindness — nonjudgment based on skin color
People who leave places better than when they found them
Ergonomic desk chairs
Scented soy candles
Glasses that help me to see clearly
Physicians, surgeons, dentists, optometrists, medical technicians (etc) with well-developed bedside manners
The words “gratitude” and “grace” share a common origin: the Latin word gratus, meaning “pleasing” or “thankful.”
In the monthly copy of the AHP newsletter (Association for Humanistic Psychology) that I receive, a recent article defined gratitude as “orientation towards noticing and appreciating the positive in the world.”
I won’t argue with that, but I’d like to add a qualifier. I believe that definition describes passive gratitude. If, however, that spark ignites a fire that inspires personal change, that passivity transforms into active gratitude.
It is my perspective that gratitude in action—as a regular practice—has a wide brushstroke of positive effects:
Inward—through appreciation we find contentment.
Outward—it inspires generosity—be it our time, skills, or money—and gifts us with opportunities to serve.
Environmentally—it’s a catalyst for healing our planet through the respect of nature.
For thousands of years gratitude has crossed religious and cultural boundaries not only as a social virtue, but as a theological virtue, but it’s a relatively new subject in the field of scientific research.
The University of California Davis psychology professor Robert Emmons’ research indicates that “Grateful people take better care of themselves and engage in more protective health behaviors like regular exercise, a healthy diet, (and) regular physical examinations.” His research also revealed that grateful people tend to be more optimistic, a characteristic that literally boosts the immune system—a clear physical benefit.
Dr. Alex Wood, a postgraduate researcher in the Department of Psychology, University of Warwick says, “…gratitude is an integral part of well-being;”—a distinct benefit to our mental and emotional faculties.
Gratitude helps to open the heart, the seat of compassion. It helps us to see the good in our experience, regardless. It enhances trust and helps us to forgive—an unarguable benefit to our spiritual aspect.
Better than a multi-vitamin, gratitude is plain good for us!
How do you weave gratitude into your life tapestry?
Recently I said to Kathy over on Lake Superior Spirit, “Isn’t it grand to be grateful, to be appreciative of the things we sometimes take for granted? Just the other day on a bike ride I was thinking about the many freedoms I enjoy and I started singing out loud.”
In thinking about my comment—and also being grateful for the 1,100 photographs that were retrieved after my hard drive died—I thought I’d pull some of the photographs to support the song I was singing:
Oh beautiful for spacious skies
For amber waves of grain
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain
Grace has been shed on thee
Crown thy good with peoplehood
From sea to shining sea
In order of the lyrics, the locations where the photos were taken are listed as follows:
Spacious skies – Mackinack Island, Michigan
Amber waves of grain – Owasso, Oklahoma
Purple mountain magesties – Mount St. Helens, Oregon
Above the fruited plains – Capron, Illinois
America, America – Belgium, Wisconsin
Grace has been shed on thee – Poplar Grove, Illinois
Crown thy good with peoplehood – Wrigley Field (Chicago, IL)
From sea to shining sea – Cardiff by the sea, California
What was the last song you sang out loud out of sheer joy or gratitude?
Our perspective is the lens through which we view life. It impacts the way we experience people, places, and things; and has a direct correlation to how we respond to life’s ups and downs. In fact, our perspective creates our world. In her book, You Can Heal Your Life, Louise Hay wrote, “What we think about ourselves becomes the truth for us. I believe that everyone, myself included, is responsible for everything in our lives, the best and the worst. Each one of us creates our experiences by our thoughts and our feelings.” By changing our thoughts, we can change our life.
In my experience I know this to be true. That’s why I’ve chosen to let go of errors of the past, to forgive myself and others, to fill my world with joy, and to live a life of gratitude—regardless. It’s been said that enlightenment is letting go of everything we believe that’s not benefiting us. With thankful heart, I accept the peace of enlightenment.
The University of Life – Gratitude Course Description
Similar to meditation, gratitude can be something we practice periodically throughout the day, or it can be a lifestyle—viewing life through the lens of sincere appreciation—of thank you. When we make gratitude a regular part of our daily experience, we set the stage for living more deeply connected to Spirit. As Melody Beattie says, Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.”
Gratitude is something that can be cultivated and grown. When we feel grateful for things we might ordinarily take for granted—things like our body, the air we breathe, our home, the sky—it’s a good indicator that our spiritual health is in order. When we don’t feel grateful, it’s a clue that we’re “off” and it’s time to make a correction.
Gratitude isn’t only for a select few; for those who have everything going “right” in their lives. It’s for everyone. It’s for when we’re facing adversity; especially so. In fact, loss can sometimes be a bridge to gratitude. Through the practice of gratitude, we can move forward, come what may, whether it’s in joy or sorrow, gain or loss, birth or death.
The beautiful purple tulips in the photograph are from a client who gifted them to me as a way of showing her gratitude.
I am currently attending the University of Life. Each class I complete takes me a little closer to graduation. At some point I will have gained all of the necessary wisdom from this coursework and return home. Right now I’m carrying a full class load with:
Mindfulness – (prerequisite, Touching Life Deeply)
Being Still – 301
Letting Go – (remedial course)
Divine Grace (no cost, freely bestowed)
Living Meditation (prerequisite, Insight)
Over the next few days I’ll share the course descriptions, but right now I’ve got to go; I’m studying for finals.