Many years ago, I heard Oprah say that her gratitude practice had been her most significant source of transformation. At that time, I needed no other motivation as I was hungry for something deeper, something more. And thus, I began a daily gratitude practice. Each day seated in sacred space, I would reflect heart wide open on the blessings of my life. People, security, animals, freedom, flowers, health, big skies, challenges… The whole mess of it – big and small, eternal and fleeting.
This practice indeed transformed me; and continues to this day. I learned to see opportunity in challenge, to create peace in conflict, and to live contently and joyfully on the inside without needing external circumstances to align with perfection. Not always but mostly. And when I rolled off the wagon in the midst of an inner temper tantrum, I more easily witnessed myself and regained my footing. Equanimity.
The greatest gift was a melting away of stress. It wasn’t an elimination of it – effortful and intentional. It just seemed to evaporate like it never existed to begin. Again, not always. You may still find me from time to time full tilt, but generally, stress debilitates my life less. I shirk from the fear of failure less, and because I take more chances, my life is blossoming in fascinating ways that light me up.
What does this look like? For me, it looks like hands on heart, looking upward with a giant goofy grin as I radiate my joy, love, support, and appreciation into the world.
And here’s what I’ve witnessed. Our gratitude practices often give thanks for those people, things, and circumstances that fulfill us, nourish us, and protect us. They are, while altruistic, centered on self. But through our practice of gratitude, we cultivate a heart of gratitude. And that heart of gratitude innately shifts us from an inward focus: thank you for this blessing in MY life, to an outward focus: how can I spread love, joy, and light in the world?
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