GRATITUDE IS AN ATTITUDE!
by Kara Johnstad
Everyone is talking about the new attitude of gratitude and that is very cool.
For if you practice gratitude, the universe will pour down its multitude of blessings and everything is in harmony. Adding a quick "Thanks, Love" while flying out the kitchen door for a meeting, seems easy to come by when things are going well and life is delivering all of your dreams in big bright boxes wrapped with bows and flows of red and golden ribbons.
When your health is well and you manage to find avocados that are ripe for that big green salad in winter then it is easy to practice the attitude of gratitude. When you are able to whistle a happy tune while hanging the wash and there is no minus below rain falling while walking the dog, then gratitude is a breeze.
When all is well and in balance, gratitude flows naturally through us.
In these moments, gratitude seems like a breeze - "Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy".
But what does it take to have a heart full of gratitude when life actually presents itself topsy-turvy from what we think it should be?
What happens to your breathing patterns and calmness, when you did everything according to those lovely "Ten Minutes A Day To Happiness And Success!" self-improvement books - and instead of gratitude you found the fastest route to overwhelm?
How is your attitude of gratitude doing, when those few extra pounds you carry round your hips, simply refuses to melt even though you switched your diet to raw kale salads with lemon dressing and take the daily long walk?
Yes, where is gratitude when an unexpected bill flies in and lands right on the kitchen counter to glare at you for several days, until you have mercy and throw it on the pile of bills and letters that you promised yourself to finally take care of on the weekend? The very weekend, which you had actually set aside to go to that yoga class or and spend quality times with the kids.
It is easy to be grateful when all is going brilliantly well. But, can gratitude walk at your side each day and accompany you even when you get caught in a rainstorm without an umbrella.
Do you react in old patterns or swiftly respond to those moments with flexible strategies that won't accelerate your breath, but keep you relaxed in the here and now? Will you remember putting it all into the greater perspective while keeping a skip in your gait and that big wide smile on your face?
So, yesterday, while trying to explain to a classroom of young German kids the word gratitude, I found myself saying: "Gratitude means thankfulness, counting your blessings, noticing simple pleasures and acknowledging everything that you receive. It means learning to live your life as if everything were a miracle and being aware, day in and day out, how much you've been given. Gratitude is a gift because it shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance and the beauty of all that is already present. And lucky us, meantime it has been proven that giving thanks makes people happier and more resilient. It makes relationships stronger and our health better. And yes, it reduces STRESS.
I asked the kids to whip out a piece of paper and simply list 10 things that they had learned and mastered in their short lives and then waited patiently as I heard the sounds of pencils scribbling on paper:
"Riding bike,” "learning how to write", "learning how to read", "I play piano", a little boy added, and "I play snare drum," a little girl smiled back. "I garden with my Grandma," "I know how to make no-bake cookies using corn flakes and melted chocolate,” "I know how to use a computer," "I can run," ’’I am learning Karate, and oh, last week I went bowling and got a strike!"
The kids were ecstatic and their list kept growing. They were only ten years old and had already learned and experienced so much fun and mastered so many wonderful things. They bounced out of the class and I knew that this Thanksgiving Day I will have beautiful paper at hand and lots of colored pencils and felt tip pens.
Why not try it for yourself? As far as I am concerned, I'm happy as a lark to have my first pair of reading glasses and chuckle. Yes, I am starting to look quite distinguished as I write.
Yes, I learned many lessons these last years. I learned truly that the brightest stars are sometimes seen only on the darkest nights. I learned that some of the most difficult times may carry powerful gifts for us to receive. I learned that the attitude of gratitude is 24/7.
How easy it is to take for granted the good that is already present in our lives. Finding joy in the small things instead of holding out for big achievement was what did the gratitude trick. Now, every morning, I light candles and incense and take time to tune into my heart and listen to my inner voice and give thanks for all the blessings that abound.
"Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving."
Taking on an "Attitude For Gratitude" makes each day a joy to live
and slips us back into that deep flow of gratitude and abundance
and high creativity that we do adore.
"If the only prayer you say in your life is 'thank you', that would suffice".
This month is Thanksgiving. Even though I live in Europe, this is the one holiday I insist on celebrating. It refocuses me on remembering all that I have and in which abundance I truly do live. It focuses me on re-shifting and re-sensing where I am at. it brings me back into a space of joy and overflow and deep gratitude as I go into the quieter, more reflective spaces of winter and preparation for a new year to come.