You hear it all the time—from ministers, priests, rabbis, self help and motivational speakers, books, tapes, CDs, DVDs: You must develop an attitude of gratitude. Well, it can get tiring. Quit telling me what to do. I’m grown up now. You can stop with the finger shaking, the fire and brimstone, the threats, even the promises. I know an attitude of gratitude is probably a good thing. But you don’t need to keep guilting me about it. Enough already!
Okay, enough, then. I won’t tell you to be grateful. You know, right? Moving on.
This morning, I decided to see just how grateful I actually am. I engaged in a little exercise. You don’t have to participate. I’m not preaching at you or saying you’ll draw bad karma if you don’t join in. It’s up to you. You may or may not get anything out of it. Only you will know that. Anyway, here’s the exercise I practiced this morning (and by the way, I do my best to practice this little exercise at least a few times a week. But you don’t have to. You have your way, I have mine.)
While still lying in bed, just after the musical clock comes on, I turn on the lamp on the nightstand because I wake up when it’s still dark out. Then, I begin to look at as many objects in the room as I can. As I do so, I bless each one because every item has served me in certain ways. The clock itself, the lamp, the bed, the windows, the walls, carpets, dressers--all of it. Many more than two billion people don’t have bedrooms.
After I get up, I go into the bathroom and bless everything in there as well. Sink, toilet, shower, towels, lights, fans, soap, everything. Many millions have never even seen a bathroom.
Then, on to the kitchen, and ultimately, the living room. So much there. Furniture, TV, computer, a cat, phone, candles, books, stereo, and so on. Hundreds of millions of people don’t have kitchens, living rooms, TVs, computers. They don’t even have houses.
These blessings only take a few seconds.
After I leave for the day, I bless the sidewalks, street lamps, trees, all the stuff between my house and the bus stop. And whether the bus is on time or late, I bless it, too. Plus, everyone on it. Millions walk miles just to fill a jar with muddy water.
Each time I do these blessings, I allow myself to determine if I am actually grateful for all this or just blessing everything out of obligation because someone told me to. That might be true to a small degree but over the years, the practice of blessing everything in my life has created the habit of blessing everything in my life. It’s become second nature.
Now I walk through a blessed world. To be sure, it has its challenges, its traumas, its bad guys. They make things interesting. Still, I find I actually am grateful, not only for what I have and what I can do, but just for being able to experience the whole thing. I am indeed blessed. What a trip!
But don’t concern yourself with all that. This is just what I do, just how I feel. No guilting here. Your world may be quite different. You may have absolutely nothing in your life to bless or to be grateful for.