Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude

Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude

As Americans we believe that we have a right to happiness – not just the pursuit of happiness – but actual happiness. The fact, however, is that we find happiness within ourselves by feeling gratitude for what we already have. Accepting what is; appreciating our blessings; focusing on what we have rather than what we wish we had.

At one of my first Al Anon meetings while I lived in Hong Kong, one of the group suggested that whenever we felt down, to consider making a gratitude list. Sometimes when I was in the depths of despair I would go through the alphabet and try to list one thing that began with each letter for which I was grateful.  Sometimes it was hard. However, with practice it became easier.  After completing many such lists, it became commonplace for me to feel gratitude for every experience whether it be positive or less than positive.  This keeps me grounded and happy.

Today I feel gratitude for everyday things – waking up in the morning  - feeling good is a bonus! I appreciate having a husband I love despite his idiosyncrasies, cats that are affectionate even if only to solicit wet food, a comfortable albeit dusty house, operational transportation including a convertible, heat in the winter and A/C in the summer, wine, a job that I like with a flexible employer that appreciates my talents, opportunities for artistic expression, the chance to watch the birdies in the back yard, a fabulous cadre of girl friends, a yoga practice that keeps me relaxed and spiritually healthy, and loved ones who won’t allow me to take myself too seriously. I appreciate the beauty of my environment including the sunrise, sunset, and the view of the mountains in the distance during my commute home, when the pastures of cattle come into focus.  It brings me peace and serenity. And I appreciate my peace and serenity.

To feel gratitude is to appreciate what is. 

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