This post will be purposely short and to the point. It originates from a bit of journaling this morning. I like to start my day with a grateful practice, but my thoughts often turn to other questions about the meaning of our existence on this planet. Enough said, here is the journal from this morning:
I am grateful for being alive today, and having the opportunity to live a more fulfilling life.
The question you must ask yourself is what is the purpose of all this? What do you mean by living a more fulfilling life?
Why am I here? Is it to fulfill a destiny, serve others, or to master my own philosophy?
Maybe it is all or none of the above. Maybe it’s as the Buddha taught to end suffering.
Whose suffering? Your own and all sentient beings.
How? For me it must be by writing and actions.
It’s not much of a reach to say we all have more than one purpose for living and these can be noble or selfish, or even some combination of the two. As humans we are fairly complex, possessing desires, dreams, and sometimes selfless motives for what we do.
There are many noble reasons to exist including:
Service to your community
Taking care of your family
Showing compassion for others
Being more mindful and spiritual
Becoming a better human being through philosophy
On the other side of the coin exists our selfish or negative motives:
The accumulation of wealth and material things
Sensory desires like sex, drugs, drinking, etc.
The desire to punish, belittle, and criticize those that are different from us
Wrong thought such as anger, hate, or envy
A preponderance of ego; thinking you are better than everyone else
The selfless or noble motives for your life result in happiness and the selfish in destruction. The choice is always yours alone.
Your life is like a book where you turn a page every day as you awaken. Each page is to be savored because you may not finish the book and it would be in your best interest to enjoy each page that you read. Waiting until the book is finished to be grateful would be a shame and a waste of your time.
Each day you turn another page and you have another opportunity to be alive, to enjoy the time you have on this earth. Should you choose to spend your time complaining and wishing for something more you will have wasted that day. Your life unfolds minute to minute, enjoy the journey wherever it takes you. Remember you can’t go back and say I wish I would have gone in this direction or that direction. You are where you are for a reason because this is where your path has led you.
A couple years ago I started writing in a journal three to five things I am grateful for every morning. It has become a ritual over time, that is followed by some yoga and meditation. Starting each day feeling grateful for what you have will allow you to serve others, instead of having feelings of resentment, anger, or another ego manifestation.
Today I am grateful for?
My family who may not be perfect, but are always my top priority
My work that provides challenges and financial rewards
My writing, which is a therapy for me and hopefully benefits others
My yoga and meditation practices that make me feel good and calm my mind
Waking up today and having another opportunity to enjoy each moment as it unfolds
Being grateful has many benefits including:
When you are grateful for what you have feelings of entitlement and envy melt away
When you are grateful for the people in your life you will treat them better and be less critical of their behavior
When you are grateful for your dwelling and having food to eat you will crave less and feel more satisfied
When you are grateful for what you have you will have a tendency to serve or give back in appreciation versus expecting something
When you are grateful you will feel better and be more positive
Of course, I could go on and on, but you get the point by now that a grateful practice has too many benefits to not incorporate into your daily routine.
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I started this practice of writing what I am grateful for everyday some time ago . This sounded like a good idea, except that I was repeating myself writing things like:
grateful for my family
grateful for my work
grateful for all the opportunities
grateful for my home
grateful for my health
Maybe I’m a bit slow, but it occurred to me that I was writing about being grateful for macro level things in my life, and missing the little things in life. It all seemed a bit forced, and it appeared I really wasn’t grateful for anything I was just writing it down because it seemed like a good idea. You know everyone tells you that if you can express how grateful you are you will be happier and more content. It is also true that life is not so much made up of big events and accomplishments as it is small things that happen everyday that often go unnoticed or unappreciated. There is a quote I like that makes this point.
If you take this philosophy and start applying it to your grateful journal, you begin to look at things with more of a mindful approach, paying attention to those little events that make up your day. Now instead of repeating those macro level themes or conditions in your life, you now begin to record those little experiences. Here are a few examples that help make my point:
Grateful for the person at the cafe where I was buying some breakfast items who just gave me a banana, showing her appreciation for my patronage.
Grateful for the rain that poured last night, just after I had put fertilizer on the lawn.
Grateful for spending last Sunday morning with a three month old baby, walking and singing songs to him.
Grateful for how attractive my wife is as she walked by me this morning with her workout clothes on.
Grateful for my manager at work who always greets me with a smile, and has something nice to say.
See the difference? These are little things, but they are positive events that compose your day and should be things that you can appreciate. These little things bring you closer to the world you live in, and as you begin to notice these things you are beginning to live in the moment, where real appreciation resides.
Hopefully you can begin to notice these little things, the people, and events for your own grateful journal. If you can’t find time to write them down at least notice that they are occurring and be grateful.