Grateful Living

be happy now Nov 30, 2023


Grateful Living


November 29, 2023


I love hitting the pause button in November and taking a break from posting on high performance habits or stress management to revealing more of my spiritual side. November, for me, is always about Gratitude. November evokes memories of the love around the table at Thanksgivings at Grandma's.

This month, we explore Gratitude as a way of 'Being,' a way of Living, a way of 'Seeing' the World.  

November 2023 marks my 6th Blog exploring Gratitude. Earlier notes have delved into gratitude as a feeling and an emotion. We have reviewed a wide range of recommendations for daily gratitude practices. I have also curated a selection of my favorite meditations and courses that teachers on Insight Timer offer to help us deepen our appreciation of gratitude. As the saying goes, "What you appreciate, appreciates."  See the links to these notes at the end of this post. 

This November I want to share the evolution of my gratitude practice towards Grateful Living and explore questions such as: What does Grateful Living really mean? How can we be grateful for our handicaps and challenges? How can we evolve from an attitude of Gratitude to Grateful Living where we 'See' and experience Life and World differently?   

 Let's start with this beautiful quote by Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk:  

"We cannot be grateful for all that a given moment brings us; 
yet, in any given moment, we can be grateful for something.
The gift within the gift of any given moment is opportunity."  

This is a deeply profound insight. It starts by acknowledging that sometimes events transpire that we cannot be grateful for --- violence, the passing of a loved one or a diagnosis of cancer --  the list goes on and on. We can't be expected to be grateful for the sadness and anguish embedded in the event. 

However, Br. David Steindl-Rast encourages us to 'see' the "gift within the gift." The mistakes, the setbacks, the losses are all opportunities to learn. They are all teachable moments. We may not be able to comprehend the lesson that very day. However, with time and reflection and introspection, we can open our awareness and our heart to see and feel the -- "the gift within the gift" -- the opportunity to grow, the opportunity to learn.  

Since 1953, Br. Steindl-Rast Benedictine has been a Benedictine monk at a monastery in New York, dividing his time between contemplation, writing and lecturing. Many of us first became acquainted with Brother David Steindl-Rast through a video A Good Day , published 16 years ago. This video has beautiful photography and is narrated by Brother David,  asking us to simply be grateful. If you are so inclined to learn about his teachings on gratitude and happiness, here is a link to a 14-minute TEDTalks, recorded in November 2013, Want to be happy? Be grateful.   

With this background and the inspiring words of Brother David, let's forge ahead and explore how we can learn to be grateful and see the opportunities in the challenging times. 

For me, the learning process starts with a foundational daily ritual of prayer and meditation, personal experiences with challenges such as loss, overwhelm, mistakes, setbacks, and extensive meditations on shaping the lens of perception to find and to feel the energy of Gratitude. 

Consider this quote by Helen Keller: 

"I thank God for my handicaps.
For through them, I have found

myself, my work, and my God."  

Just imagine the strength of character and spirit of a personal prayer prayer which says, "Thank you God for my handicaps," rather than a cry for help that asks, "Why me God?" 

My personal tests in these last 2 years, following the tests we all had during COVID, have become my testimony. A testimony to the priceless value of family and friends, the new discoveries in mySelf of deeper levels of courage, humility, trust, and faith. I am a lighter person -- mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I laugh more easily. I ask for help more easily. I am freer than I have been in a very long time. I am learning -- a novice really -- at Grateful Living. And, I have been awakening with daily gratitudes for over 10 years. I have kept a daily Gratitude Journal for 6 years. There are always opportunities to learn and grow. It takes time, daily practice and reinforcement. It is messy. In my experience, the process of personal development and growth never goes in a straight line.

And somehow.... it becomes possible, or you start to believe it is possible... and to see and hear the messages in the teachable moments.

One day … you start to 'See' the world with new eyes. You gradually start, one breath at a time, one step at a time, one day, one week, one month, one year -- to shape a new lens of perspective on your World. And you start to 'See' and feel the meaning and the energy in Grateful Living.   

Let's dive deeper into how we develop a mindset of gratitude for the opportunities in challenges. The first 7 days in an amazing course, "21 Days of Morning Gratitude" by one of my favorite teachers, David Gandelman, dives right into the 7 main energies that tend to throw us off balance in the morning. For example, the 1st lesson explores how we can shift our mindset to have gratitude for a Noisy Mind. David moves on to lessons on how to develop gratitude for Life Challenges, the Past, the Future, Time, Resistance and Difficult People. This is deep work. 

Let's focus on Day 2 of the 21-Day Course, "Gratitude for Life Challenges."  David encourages us to start to see and feel that our challenges are here to teach us something.  Whether we like it or not.  Whether we know it or not.  Can we accept -- or become more aware that our challenges are here to teach us something … that they are opportunities for us to learn and grow?

I hope you will listen to this meditation and identify an important challenge in your Life, right now or the recent past. David will gently guide you to meditate on issues like: What is the energy of the key challenge you are facing right now? What shape does it take? What color is it? Observe the energy -- without judgement. Rather than labeling something as a 'Problem'  -- can you accept and be open and grateful for the opportunity to grow. Observe how your energy starts to shift. The key idea is to not label something as a 'Problem. Rather say, "Thank you, I am open and welcome the challenge, the opportunity to grow." This is a total change in your mindset. The first time I tried to do this, I was in total resistance -- which is Lesson 6, by the way. I said to myself, "You've got to be kidding, right?!" Be patient with yourself. I trust you will keep doing the work.  It's ok to say -- I don't know what the lesson is. Just keep doing the work, trust the process, and gradually as you open your heart, as you open your ears and your intuition, the messages will come. I have listened to the 21-Day Course in its entirety and gone back to Lessons 1 through 7 many times. 21 Days of Morning Gratitude

When you come out on the other side -- meaning your mindset is starting to shift -- you are seeing or feeling the lessons in your Life Challenges --  ask your self these questions: Do you feel lighter? Do you have more confidence and energy now? Do you feel stronger, more courageous and resilient? 

This is what happens -- or can happen oven a period of time -- in a practice of deep and consistent meditation. It really is all about energy and raising your vibrational frequency. Changing from negative emotions of fear, anger, and struggle to more positive emotions of courage, confidence, gratitude, and love.   

This is a good point to segue into the concept that we all walk around with an emotional frequency that other people and even animals, especially our 4-legged pets, can feel. Pause and feel the shift in your Energy Field as you start to see the opportunities in Life Challenges, as you start to feel grateful for the opportunity to grow and learn. This Energy Field is outside of our physical body. Some call it our Aura. Some people feel it or see it -- and some people don't. This is an exploration, an adventure in awareness. Can you feel your Energetic Body -- around and outside of your Physical Body?  Well, that a topic for another day. Please accept that we all have an Energy Field -- and it actually can be measured.  

Let us move on to a practical framework which helps us engage the mind-body-heart in Gratitude for challenges. How do we reframe our trials, tribulations, mistakes, mindsets, setbacks and difficulties?

Here is one tool -- a practice, which may help. I know it has helped me. This is the exercise: 

  1. First, start the sentence, I am grateful for ____  … and fill in the blank with 1 issue that is important in your life right now. 
  2. Next, add on to the sentence … the "Why". I am grateful for this challenge because  ___... and fill in the blank with your 'Why'.   

Using Helen Keller's quote, this is how the practice works: I am grateful for my handicaps because through them I have found myself, my work, and my God. 

These are a few other examples: 

1. I am grateful that I am tired … because it means I have been of service and made a difference in a dear one's life. 

2. I am grateful for my 'mistakes' … because I have learned valuable lessons. 

3. I am grateful for my limitations … because they have given me insights into my strengths. 

4. I am grateful for the difficult times … because they stretch me out of my comfort zone, and give me opportunities to grow.

Of course, it is important to be grateful for all the good things and people in our lives. Is is also important to be grateful for all the little things in our lives we may take for granted.  

Learning to be grateful for the challenges we all encounter on our journey takes our Gratitude practice to the next level. This is when we start to shape the lens of our perspective and truly see the world differently

This is when we start to embody Grateful Living. To return to where we began, Grateful Living is a way of 'Being,' a way of Living, a way of 'Seeing' the World -- and our energy vibrational frequency increases. We feel it and everyone in our energy field of resonance feels it! 

 For me, this is the real message of Wayne Dyer's famous insight: 

 "Change the way you look at things and
the things you look at change."

 When we start to learn to be grateful for both the good things and the challenges in our lives, we start to 'See' the world through new eyes.

 As John Milton said: 

"Gratitude bestows reverence, 
allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies,
those transcendent moments of awe
that change our life forever
how we experience life and the world. " 

I am in awe of the brilliance of John Milton who penned this insight over 350 ago. Grateful Living changes the way we experience life and the world. Indeed!  This is one of my AHA moments. THIS I BELIEVE. One person's opinion. 

 In closing, here are the links to my last 5 Blogs on gratitude. Every year there is a shift. Every year there is an opportunity to grow and deepen my gratitude practice.   

Heartset of Gratitude.2. Novemberish 2022

Heartset of Gratitude November 2021

Heartset of Gratitude November 2020

My Daily Gratitude Ritual Novemberish 2019

I AM Alive with Gratitude

Till next time, with big love and deep gratitude,   

May you be happy now and always,  Alison 



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