JOURNEY TO AUTHENTICITY, FEARLESSNESS AND FREEDOM
Can we be grateful in the present moment? In the past I believed that gratitude was an exercise in reflection or an extension of politeness. For example, Thanksgiving Day is a time for Americans to “count our blessings,” to look back and take notice of what we are grateful for. Appreciation is extended as a courtesy, an appropriate response when someone does something kind. One way I improved my mindset was to find three things I am grateful for that I experienced each day. This resolved many sleepless nights as my mind calmed, seeking the good things in life. There was no need to create scenarios; simply looking for the good and satisfying experiences allowed my mind and body to relax.
I experienced gratitude in a whole new way today. I was overwhelmed by the simple experience I witnessed. A group of disabled teenagers were enthusiastically walking towards an intersection on this sunny autumn day. They clearly exhibited great pleasure in experiencing life as they raced to see who could press the button, a game I still secretly enjoy as an adult. Noticing their different mobility abilities, I realized that I take for granted some of the basic aspects of my life; and that I am profoundly unaware of how others experience daily activity – basic to me, challenging to them.
In this moment I could feel the blessing of some of my life’s “hardships.” Having my own experiences has created different challenges for me as I move along my life’s path. I could feel myself letting go of any angst or worry I was feeling about my current and past situations. I felt blessed to be who I am, while tears of gratitude welled up for these strangers showing me life’s joy despite their physical challenges.
In a week I’ll be headed for Greece, meeting with friends and living a childhood dream. While I was remembering my declaration made three years ago – I wish to create a life I do not want to leave – I could feel this daily moment was just as monumental a life experience as my upcoming trip. Brené Brown’s wisdom entered my mind: those who are most deserving of our heart’s trust earn their place based upon small gestures of kindness and thoughtfulness. This day’s unexpected gift prompted me to notice that I am “being present” – exactly what I intended just a few years ago.While we are working, striving, “living,” or being busy, focusing on that next event, it is truly the little moments along the way that will prove to be the most meaningful. Truthfully, I think part of the overwhelming appreciation I felt was gratitude for myself. Grateful for not missing the gift of presence, and witnessing and recognizing the beauty of life in the moment.
Original article appears in Sibyl Magazine: For the Spirit and Soul of Woman