November 18th, 2015

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Be Grateful

Naming and celebrating ONE thing: sunset, sunrise, fresh water, two hawk brothers circling my house this very minute. OR, a “thanks” for something we take for granted: clean sheets, laughter, trees, late Fall persimmons; rain in the desert, fine wine; OR, ‘finally no desire to drink!’

It doesn’t matter WHAT; it’s the very awareness of gratitude, the splendid presence of tiny, profound miracles of being alive that bring us into the present moment. At Rise Up! we call that awareness The Golden Thread that weaves spirit to life: “Ok, I’m alright; thank you! BTW: I am blessed with simple, yet profound joys!” Gratitude makes us human, connected; ready to accept life as it is. Prepared for every experience.

OR, be grateful for one living and breathing “person;” a child, pet, a mentor, grandparent, OR one memory: a final beloved, a first hello, a winning score; an act of kindness given or received. GRATITUDE has power to move us out of small boxes: “poor me; can’t; WON’T; terror; unhappy;” into the wide wild field of open heart, open mind; present! Find Opportunity Every Day. Here’s how: BE GRATEFUL, the next step in Ten Principles for Being Human: How to Turn Every Experience into Opportunity.

Featured Journal Entry:

Lena comes from a family that’s known prejudice and alienation. “I was raised in the anxious tribe: ‘this holocaust or another;’ the next tragedy; tears rather than laughs and constant warnings followed by never-ending stories of deceit, worry and false friends. We’re also a highly educated family. You’d think someone would have searched for a better way! But the family system thrived on ‘outsiders keep out; insider’s stay in; only WE can understand one another! Do not change’”

The terrible and wonderful fact about crisis and tragedy is that they’re as common as dirt. We can’t create barriers to suffering, pain, disappointments or tragedies. When life shakes up our “perfect picture” and smears hope and expectations it has the double whammy of destroying our belief that “EVERY Experience can lead to opportunity.” Of course it’s far more challenging to find possibility, and keep our spirits up, and emotions positive, in dark times.

What we can do is choose to find the “Golden Thread” of beauty, wonder, unity, LOVE and blessing that weaves its way through even the smallest, hardest, craziest moments. That Thread works its magic no matter what the circumstance. We follow its weave and CHOOSE to be grateful for something even in midst of crisis. Choosing gratitude, we find The Golden Thread of life’s gifts; we refuse despair and open to surprise and awe. Our hearts and minds pay us back by allowing in possibility and opportunity!

Lena is a Human Resource specialist, a petit, efficient, nervous but focused and energetic dynamo. “My job is to make every environment positive so concrete, dependable, results follow. After my first Rise Up! session I questioned the logic! ‘REALLY; gratitude has that much influence?’ And, by the way, who am I saying ‘thank you’ to? The Universe, god, the day itself, for some small thing I hope will change my future; help my ‘tend-toward-negative’ family attitude?’ Hard to believe! BUT being the good student, I decided to see if I could find corroborating evidence for gratitude. Studying the recent Brain Science research on gratitude I found Rise Up! was right (to my relief, shock and joy!) Gratitude causes the most positive psychic and physical responses. It has the POWER to open brainwaves and heart waves to possibility!

Being grateful relaxes our bodies and floods us with positive endorphins and healing hormones. Our minds clear; our breathing becomes steady; feelings of calm, joy and even buoyancy are natural by products of gratitude.

Lena created “A GRATITUDE meditation. I used the STAY exercises before I made my list. Poured a cup of my favorite tea and lit a candle. I found what Rise Up! calls The Golden Thread, the spirit of life as it is, that weaves through every experience. GRATITUDE became a centerpiece of my life. It started slowly at first but eventually gratitude filled the space of my family’s long held grief, rage and blame for their history of suffering. My parent’s generation still clings to painful memories. But my siblings and cousins joined my ritual, not dismissing the family history, but allowing GRATITUDE to grow larger than the injured past. THANK YOU for the good and wonderful, simple and profound joys we each enjoy and often share. I can verify, gratitude heals!”

When gratitude becomes a habit, a natural response to ordinary AND extraordinary times, it defies sadness, guilt, worry, and fear. We don’t deny the truth of life as it is; we choose to follow The Golden Thread and create a new tapestry. Positive internal and external responses follow, no matter what other challenge is present! Lena was right: BE GRATEFUL and the brain releases near magical juices of calm, levity, and positivity. Grateful, it’s hard to feel victimized, disappointed or discouraged. No longer caught in a ‘Can’t’ cycle we’re free to actually be alive!

Featured Exercise:

  1. Try Lena’s “Gratitude” meditation. STAY: three inhales and exhales; find a comfy place to sit; light a candle or incense, chill!
  2. Have “special paper,” good stationery or art paper, some material that makes you feel as if you are honoring The Golden Thread of gratitude for life as it is.
  3. REMEMBER: thanks for the smallest moment (a glimpse of a baby bird; a rainbow in a puddle; no traffic on the highway; fluffy towels at the hotel; enough gas money to drive to the beach!) is as important to your heart, mind and soul as BIG thanks (or a big moment). Thanks for the memory; for the health you enjoy today that you may not have had yesterday; for the song on the radio; the tip at work you didn’t expect; finding the right color lipstick or the great shoes at the cheapest price.
  4. THINK: of the people from LONG AGO who “made your day” or shared their lives, or gave the best of what they had at the time you needed it most; or the teacher, coach, relative, neighbor who smiled, cooked, taught, played guitar, swam or threw a ball or advised you when you couldn’t hear anyone else’s opinion!
  5. When you’re ready, share your list; keep GRATITUDE ALIVE!