My own transformation has been about changing my perspective. Perhaps that seems too assertive, as I have only made myself open to the blessings around me. The blessings were always present in my life. I did not notice them because I was mired inside myself and sinking in negativity.
Gratitude is a spiritual discipline. It is not the airy-fairy bullshit that is often pedalled off as being grateful. There are days I do not feel grateful. There are days I do not want to leave the imagined safety of the shell I have constructed over to the years to protect myself from people (real and imagined).
But I do it. I remind myself that every day is a gift, even if I might not recognize it as such. I have a responsibility to myself and others around me.
I think of the many ways I am blessed. And then I take a moment to let that settle in. Now my day can get underway with a strong footing. If I wait until later in the day, too many things can crowd in and take the place of a grateful spirit.
And that is a shame, really. There is so much beauty and wonder in our world. For me to ignore these things is to deprive myself of what I have been freely granted by God or Nature, or whatever you call that force that encourages kindness and fairness and love between people.
Relationships fail when we are not grateful. Gratefulness opens a window to our souls. We become vulnerable when are truly grateful and that is unsettling and even frightening, especially when we live in a world more concerned with self-indulgence, self- edification, and self-protection.
And that is what is frightening. Common courtesy comes from a heart filled with gratitude. Remember the last time someone did something really kind for you? That felt good, did it not? Why not help others feel that kind of internal wonder?
The main barrier to a spirit of gratitude is a sense of entitlement: “I earned this. I worked my ass off to get here and I deserve whatever I have.” It is not difficult to see how such a self-important attitude can alienate others. It is a short step from there into “I don’t need anyone else.”
But you do. Everyone needs other people. This is the whole point of the human experience, I think. It is often said that people are cruel and unkind. Your response to a world that seems hostile- especially when world leaders in business and politics do their best to keep us angry and afraid- is all that makes a difference.
Blame others. We are taught that from an early age. Proper behaviour is praised and negative behaviour is punished. Do you remember the first time you blamed someone else for something? We do it all the time. “you made me angry”…”if you didn’t, then I wouldn’t”.
And there is always someone who deserves a finger pointed in their direction, right? Things would be ok if it weren’t for them. Pick another individual or tribe and point away. Yeah. Did that for a large part of my life. Did not help anyone. Especially me.
How can I change me? That is the tough choice, right? I cannot change anyone else. So the buck stops with you. Just you. Not your partner, sister, brother, mother, father, boss, or anyone else. They gave you a load of shit? Ok. Use it as fertilizer. Use it for motivation.
I will be different than the world. I will not bow to the pressure to hate and lie and hurt my fellow humans, or my planet. That is what it takes. No one else can do it for me. I do not ignore the things I have suffered, but I no longer want them to rule over me and dominate my decisions.
So I choose to make a small adjustment. I make a tiny mental adjustment to start my day, and if I get overwhelmed along the way, I take a moment to refocus. And it is helping. I get through days much easier and I usually go to sleep with a content heart. That works for me.
That is enough for now.
John of the Asylum
KID’S CORNER (Sarah and I have raised a blended family of four boys and four girls. We have three grandchildren and likely more on the way. I made my fair share of terrible parenting decisions, and could likely be described as one of those “toxic parents”. But we never get a “do-over” with our children, so I thought I would take a little time in each blog to say a word to my kids)
My children likely remember the “Children’s Moments” during church services. The kids would come to the front and someone would tell a story or illustrate some spiritual truth, like sharing. This is for you guys.
LOVE DEEPLY. When you say, “I love you”, do it with some enthusiasm. Make eye to eye contact and pay attention, because this is one of the most meaningful things you can say to another human. If you are blessed with a partner in life, speak to them with a gracious heart and “gift” them often. The poorest person can pick a flower, go for a walk. or say something real and meaningful. If you love this person. be sure they know it. All else depends on this, for deep love can carry one across many hurdles. Dad loves you.
Incidentally. Joseph’s brothers were a bunch of jealous bastards who sold their brother into slavery. Do not do this. Thanks.