Thursday, November 23, 2006

Cultivating gratitude

On this Thanksgiving Day it is appropriate to focus on the mind state of gratitude and how to cultivate it. I want to call your attention to an essay entitled To Give Is to Receive by Roger Walsh. Here's an excerpt:
Like other attitudes, gratitude can be cultivated. We don't have to wait for our fairy grandmother to shower us with gifts before feeling thankful. We can develop gratitude by reflecting on the gifts that are already ours. This reflection can be done for a minute, a day, or throughout a lifetime. Most people celebrate their birthday and holidays, but those who cultivate gratitude celebrate every day. We can be grateful because we are happy, but we can also be happy because we are grateful.

We tend to forget how very different the laws that govern the mind are from the laws that operate in the physical world. In the world, if we give a physical thing to another person, whether it be a toy or a diamond, we lose it. Yet in the mind, the opposite is true. Whatever we intend for another person we experience ourselves
, whatever we give we gain, whatever we offer flowers in our own mind.
I consider myself to be a truly happy person but, like anybody else, I can get frazzled and grumpy if I've got too much going on or if I'm experiencing events as frustrating. When that happens, all I have to do is remember gratitude - my own gratitude which is ongoing - and my feeling of deep happiness returns. Truly, there is no more powerful a practice for supporting our experience of profound well being.

6 comments:

  1. beautiful post, ellie. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones!

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  2. thanks for such a wonderful Piece, It's such a pleasure to read your blog.

    Happy thanksgiving day !

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  3. How does one remain "gratful" and "experience gratitude" when their gifts result only in pain? i.e. "giving" to drug addicts or alcoholics, or other "users" who seduce one into giving and good old co-dependent me, I give and give and give to "get that good feeling," but in the end it is more pain and pain and pain... no one ever seems to talk about that part!

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  4. What you're describing, Catherine, is known as "idiot compassion" in the meditative tradition. That's when we give a person what he or she wants (i.e. indulge the person) but the result is harm to the person or to ourselves. Part of our inner work needs to be cultivating wise discernment.

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  5. << known as "idiot compassion" in the meditative tradition. >>

    Ah, I have heard of this before, but not put exactly the way you have:

    "give a person what he or she wants (i.e. indulge the person) but the result is harm to the person or to ourselves."

    That makes some sense, when one can know what the difference is. Then comes "discernment," as you say, but how does one actually do that if one has few if any guides to follow?

    Glad - and surprised - you are online right now!

    P.S. Is there a way to edit a post to correct spelling errors? (i.e. "grateful" in previous post)

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  6. Hey! I knew what you meant! :-) No, you can only delete your post and start over if you've already published it.

    Discernment is the work of a lifetime and there are no recipes. If you are prone to co-dependent behaviors and the suffering that goes with that, I recommend Al-Anon and/or a good therapist in addition to meditative practice.

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