It’s November again, the month of gratitude. I personally had quite a journey with gratitude. It was not my natural inclination. I had always tended to see what’s missing, how something could be more perfect and what needed healing.
Even though that kind of seeking attitude has served me well on my career path, it has also been detrimental to my wellbeing and the wellbeing of my relationships, especially in my younger years. During my “Sturm and Drang” years, where I was hell-bent on changing the world for the better, it more often than not meant showing everyone, especially the closest people in my life and myself, what was wrong with them and how they needed to change.
That caused a lot of upheaval and stress! Given my rather unaccepting and judgmental attitude, I went through several relationship break-ups, a painful divorce and got all stressed out about many unnecessary things. Somehow everything and everyone, including me, was just not quite enough.
When we have that kind of attitude, we can find so much evidence in the world around us. Given each person’s wounds and defenses, it is easy to find each other’s flaws and want more for them.
In our industrialized society and free market, the “Not Enough” Mantra is what makes it go around. We are constantly told that we would be happier if we just purchased a new car, a bigger house or a more exotic vacation. The Not Enough Virus seeps into every part of our life, especially into how we hold ourselves.
Its incessantly negative messages feed the belief that our life is not enough, the people in it are not enough, and most of all, that we ourselves are not enough—not smart enough, not rich enough, not powerful enough, not thin, fit or beautiful enough, or not spiritually enlightened, healed or awake enough. It attacks our very value, telling us we are our core are not enough, that there is something wrong with us and if we just fixed that, all would be well.
Through my own experience and being with hundreds of clients and workshop participants, I have come to see firsthand the great danger that such ingratitude brings forth; it impacts the way we perceive our whole life and our whole self. Many of my spiritual teachers over the years had taught me that gratitude is the most important virtue to develop on the spiritual journey. The most important. Absolutely paramount! At some point I did listen—eventually.
Nowadays gratitude is a daily practice of mine. I am conscious about abstaining from complaining and acknowledging the good in the world, with our COR team at work, with the people closest to me, and with myself. What I discovered is that the more I practice it, the easier it gets.
As recent neuroscience research has shown, what we practice (meaning what we do a lot of) sticks and multiplies. When we are more positive and open to what is good, our parasympathetic nervous system kicks in more and we relax into the amazing invitation that life is every day. Our inner horizons open up and we can actually perceive the beauty that is all around us and enjoy even the most mundane activities.
That’s what I am going for these days. The joy of gratitude! I am committed to give my heart and soul to it, for the rest of my life. I experience much more “causeless joy,” independent of needing my outer circumstances to be perfect or any accomplishments of mine.
This month at COR, we will focus on gratitude from different angles. We will look at several different ways it helps and supports our growth.
For example, gratitude is one of the most powerful antidotes to the torturous voices of the inner critic in our head. For some of us, this voice is incessantly speaking to us about our mistakes, failures, and shortcomings, robbing us of a sense of our intrinsic worth. Gratitude is an amazingly simple tool to counteract the attitude of scarcity within. Instead of seeing what is wrong with ourselves, we now see what is wonderful, good and “right.”
Contrary to what our inner critic would tell us, the more we see our goodness, the better we feel, the more we show up for others and for whatever projects we are busy with. Gratitude for all that we have right now, for what is already here within us or without us, and for all the things that are freely given to us every day, is what stops the negative voices in the head like nothing else does. It really is true, where we put our attention is what grows.
Don’t believe me? I challenge you to give it a go. For the month of November, make a daily—or even better twice-daily—practice to acknowledge the good. When you take a shower, appreciate the wonderful feeling of water pouring over you and all the workers who made this happen. Truly see the people in your life, the way they care for you, show you their love and uplift you, even if they are not getting your love language quite right. And most of all, acknowledge your own goodness, like the way you helped someone, the effort you put into a work project, the creativity you brought forth and all the little ways you contributed today.
It’s the little things that we often overlook, so pay close attention! Make it a 30-day gratitude challenge, and then see at the end of the month what has happened with your inner critic. As always, please feel free to share any successes, celebrations and challenges HEREon our Facebook page. We love to hear from you.
Love and blessings,