Arts & Crafts Magazine

on the Topic of Gratefulness (and Changing Your Life)

By Laharris1
on the topic of gratefulness (and changing your life)
Hello dear friends ...has it really been weeks since I've been here?

Sigh, I haven't been a very good blogger lately and I've missed sharing with all of you.

And frankly, it's hard to know where to begin after all this time--I wish we could share a pot of coffee and catch up the proper way, but I'll start by plopping you into the middle of my personal December challenge.

And I hope there's something here that you can use in your own life.

I've always found December to be such a special month and yet, it’s so easy to get caught up in a constant sense of busyness where I find myself looking at the calendar, and wondering where the days flew by.

Does this happen to you too? Well, I don’t like that feeling of not fully remembering these precious hours or days of my life.  So I've been consciously doing a few things differently this season.One of the changes I'm making this month has to do with my focus on being grateful.My inspiration for my "gratefulness challenge" came to me after I listened to Brother David Steindl-Rastinterviewed by Krista Tippett in her On Being podcast series. I was so intrigued-- not just by this man's incredible life—but by his suggestions on how to practice gratefulness in our daily lives. Yes, that's what I like. Easy to use ideas that I can incorporate into my day.I was so impressed by the depth of his work in this field, and because I worry that the topic of gratitude is in danger of becoming a pop cultural fad, I thought I’d share a few of his ideas with you today.
becoming aware of your fountain bowlFirst of all it helps to be aware of what gratitude actually feels like when we’re experiencing it—in our bodies and our minds---and Brother Steindl-Rast uses a few words to explain his two components of gratitude, called gratefulness and thanksgiving.Have you ever stopped to think about how "gratefulness" actually feels---so you can recognize it when it's happening?  The reason this is relevant is because we now have so much research telling us the profound impact gratitude has on our happiness.Brother Steindl-Rast uses the analogy of a fountain bowl brimming with water to talk about how we experience gratefulness. So that we can think of ourselves as being this fountain bowl that has the ability to fill up with these wonderful sensations of joy and gratitude.

Most of us can recognize this experience as a warmth or a glow of happiness that expands inside of us although at this point, it's still what Brother Steindl-Rast calls “unarticulated joy,” because our feelings ("the water inside the bowl") are mostly quiet and still.

However, similiar to water when it reaches the top and begins to gush over, becoming louder, bubbling and glistening---so do our emotions get stronger, letting us know that we’re feeling something positive and good. This is his analogy of gratitude welling up in our hearts and overflowing into joy. He calls this the ‘thanksgiving’ component of gratitude.

But here's the crucial part.In our day-to-day living we need to be aware of how our bowls can change their size. When we keep a small, humble bowl size, it is able to be filled up easier. And we’re able to walk around feeling in touch with gratefulness and joy for even the littlest things.However, when we fall prey to consumerism and comparisons to our neighbors—our bowls become harder to fill up; the water is there but it can never reach the top and spill over if we are always seeking more quantity, if our bowl is always growing wider and deeper with all our wants and dissatisfaction.It’s a simple analogy. But I love this visual image because it stresses that living a grateful life is a chosen response. We can chose to stay aware of our fountain bowl size. We can chose to remain aware that real joy comes from quality not quantity as our water level inside our fountain bowl reminds us. But what happens when life gets hard? And when gratitude simply feels out of reach,?For those who struggle to feel gratitude Brother Steindl-Rast makes this distinction. Not everything that’s given to you—can be something you can be grateful of, he says, certainly  war, violence, sickness… are a few things you would never consider a gift. So when people ask him, “Can you be grateful for everything?”“No, not for everything,” he says, “But in every moment.This is how it works.



The Stop-Look-Go practice

for feeling gratefulness in our daily life


Stop


This only takes seconds. But it's a game-changer. Because when we’re rushing though our day, busy juggling our lists and schedules it’s impossible to appreciate any opportunity for gratitude. That's because we’re not grounded in the present moment. So the first thing we need to do is simply stop.

Look



This is when we ask ourselves this one question.“What is the opportunity in this-given-moment? Only this moment. Right now.

This is the stage of ‘beholding.’  This is when we look, listen, and attend to the moment in front of us, with the purpose of discerning the opportunity for gratefulness. Remember that surprise is often the beginning of gratitude. Think of the uniqueness of the moment and ask yourself.What is the opportunity I can take away from this? Brother Steindl-Rast reminds us that even in the most difficult situations we may ‘see’ an opportunity to learn something.

To Understand. To grow in a deeper way. Even to take a stand on a topic that matters to you.

Go


This is the action step.The crucial step that changes your life.If you can see the opportunity, then you simply act. Do something with it. You avail yourself of this opportunity and as Brother Steindl-Rast says,

“If you try practicing it at this moment, by tonight you will already be happier because the immediate feedback is joy.”


Clearly Brother Steindl-Rast and his message about gratefulness touches something deep inside us. We sense truth in his words and that’s why an astonishing five million people have listened to this Benedictine monk’s Ted Talk. I think the longer we live-the more we recognize that life is messy and inherently out-of-our-control-- but the mere act of choosing our response to any situation empowers us, it offers us a tremendous way to grow. So this is what I've been doing this month. Nothing too intense; I’m keeping this casual:

on the topic of gratefulness (and changing your life)

    I’ve been waking up earlier than usual for a little yoga and meditation time.

         

    I’m trying to actively use the Stop-Look-Go in my daily interactions

    I begin each day using Brother Steindl-Rast’s own words to remind myself not to take anything for granted:

      on the topic of gratefulness (and changing your life)

         Try saying this a few times over your morning coffee. It's pretty powerful.
      Well friends, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this post. In the meantime, you can follow me on instagram (gwenmossblog) where I'm currently more active.
      Love and Peace to you allNamaste,

      Leslie



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