Finding Gratitude Even When it Seems Impossible ll By Dorothy Wallis

The sunlight bounces off the myriad shades of burnished auburn and gold as I rake leaves into plump piles.  The azure sky is a deeper blue in autumn as the angle of the sun dips lower. The air has a bit of a chill. In Colorado the sun is quite intense and so the temperature is neither too hot nor too cold.  It is the perfect time to be in the garden or golfing or hiking or doing any activity outdoors.  

Live each Day Aware of the Simple Pleasures in Life

This simple act of raking leaves on this glorious day brings me a feeling of pure pleasure and gratitude.  I am a Virgo and I enjoy tidying up and seeing things in order. I tuck leaves around tender plants to provide insulation from winter’s cold.  I think about my friends in the southern hemisphere imbued with the flourishing of spring flowers and the explosion of green leaves adorning the plant world.  

I am aware of the cycle of the seasons and how tending and bedding down my garden now will bring an abundant renewal.  Being present to each moment with its special qualities knowing that this moment is fleeting begets deep appreciation. There will never be a day exactly like this one.  I am thankful for the opportunity to have tools and a garden and the physical ability to be able to gather the leaves and feel the sun and breathe the air.  

Gratitude arises as an inner feeling of thankfulness and appreciation with an energy of goodness that cannot be contained.  It must radiate outward and express itself. The warmth of gratitude shines rays of kindness from within your heart spilling over into compassionate acts.  It is an act of loving the world and life with all of its imperfections just the way it is.  

Of course it is easy to have gratitude when the moment is as beautiful and peaceful as this lovely day in the sun.  Can this feeling be cultivated when burdens and painful experiences distract you away from being present with what is good in your life?  When life is at its most difficult how do you find the glimmer of light within?  

Accept Life as It Is with Presence

Harsh realities obliterate the sense of wonder and delight.  Fear creeps in and drags you down into a well of negativity. Life is imperfect.  There is grief, loss, illness, chaos and violence. It is especially discouraging when you feel hopeless and powerless to do anything about it.  The world looks bleak, melancholy sets in and you despair. What can pull you out of the abyss?  

You start with one small moment of acceptance.  Life is made up of a series of moments. Each one is a particular experience that adds up to your life.  Some experiences are easily cherished and others not so much. Instead of resigning, you accept and acknowledge the world as it is.  You then empower your life with a simple movement of attention thereby creating a different moment of experience. Look around you. What do you observe?  If you cannot see, what do you hear? Use your senses to be present right where you are. Your body is the most miraculous virtual reality vehicle created with remarkable abilities to sense and perceive.  Do you take it for granted? What small thing are you thankful for…right now in this very moment? Find just one tiny thing. You might enjoy something in nature like birds, animals, trees, a special environment or a pet.  It might be clouds in the sky. It might be your ability to breathe. Notice movement. Nothing stays the same. Whatever ails you now, will not last. You are not powerless. You have the power to choose how you respond to your experiences. 

Be Generous with Acts of Kindness

Take is slowly.  Allow yourself to be still.  Do an act of kindness toward yourself.  Make a cup of tea or coffee. Whatever warms you with a sense of comfort.  Smell the aroma and drink it in. Every nurturing act creates a positive experience.  Be aware of the many blessings in your life. What goodness have you experienced? Are there people that have shown you support or kindness?  What kindness and compassion have you offered to others? Remember those acts of generosity and sustain the positive experiences. Do not pass over them lightly. Really receive and take in moments of pleasure, joy, benevolence, courtesy, tenderness, generosity, love and compassion. Sustaining the positive moments actually changes your brain altering your outlook towards optimism resulting in feelings of congeniality and vitality keeping you young and healthy.

Pay particular attention to the good intentions you offer to others.  Research shows that benevolence and kindness to others results in mega benefits for the giver.  On all levels of psychological, emotional and social well-being those performing kind acts generated an increase in positive emotions enhancing their health, contentment and optimism.  What is surprising is that offering good will to others proffered even higher levels of beneficial emotions than when participants gave to themselves. Gratitude naturally arises.

Expand Your Perspective and Change Your Patterns

Your brain is programmed to hold onto the negative experiences in order to protect and warn you of danger.  You readily become engrossed in ruminating over “bad” experiences. It takes effort to counter it, yet it happens when you consciously shift your attention and are present and thankful for what life has given you.  Every time you engage in positive emotions new brain cells and pathways are generated overriding the negative conditioned response.

What obstacles confront you?  Is it possible to meet them with acceptance and gratitude?  You may have pain. It means you are alive. What is it telling you?  Pain stops you in your tracks whether it is physical pain or emotional pain.  Your body is speaking to you; it wants you to notice something. Perhaps you’ve been going non-stop in one direction and there is an imbalance that needs correcting.  Maybe you haven’t paid attention to your health or needs. A long-standing habit or pattern may not be in your highest good. It could be that you are stuck in old beliefs that limit you.  Perhaps you are so self absorbed that you haven’t noticed the kindness of others or how life is giving you what you need. 

Challenges invoke you to grow.  Look at your situation with fresh eyes.  How is your higher self encouraging you to develop and expand?  What needs to be recognized? Have you given your power to external situations?  Are you taking care of your needs or expecting them to be met outside of yourself? Take a hard look at your expectations. Are you giving to get or are you giving whole-heartedly?  Giving and receiving are aspects of one continuum…a circular never ending flow. You can be depleted when either one is not in balance.  

Receive Grace through Gratitude

Filling yourself up with thankfulness is an act of receiving and loving yourself that energizes every part of your body.  The positive energy from gratitude strengthens your outlook on life and gives you resilience to meet life with confidence.  Grace occurs when you reach beyond the limited perspective that you are at the mercy of life and can see the higher purpose in the hardships and struggles.  Once you perceive strife as growth obstacles and resistance melt away as gratitude opens a channel to the clarity and truth of how life is supporting you. You become infused with a compassionate heart and shift out of distress, hostility, anger and depression. 

Gratitude heals you inside removing judgment, expectations and the limited viewpoint of the ego.  Without judgment, you see yourself as complete and whole and at one with humanity. You discover the grace of feeling safe, secure and connected.  You find there is no separation between you and all of life.  

Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice with an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy.  She is a Psychotherapist, Certified Relational Life Therapist, Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, and an International Spiritual Teacher at the forefront of the consciousness movement for over thirty years grounded in practices of meditation, family systems, relationships, and emotional growth.  Her work reflects efficacious modalities of alternative approaches to healing for individuals and couples based upon the latest research in science, human energy fields, psychology, and spirituality. 

 As a leader in the field of emotional consciousness and the connection to mind, body and spirit, her compassionate approach safely teaches you how to connect to your body, intuition and knowing to clear emotional wounds and trauma at the core.  The powerful Heartfulness protocol empowers your ability to join with your body’s innate capacity to heal through holistic Somatic, Sensory and Emotional awareness. and