I have a dear friend who begins every conversation with me by asking, “What’s on your gratitude list today?” There was a time when I responded to that question in the same way that many people respond when someone tells them to smile, with a bit of resistance. “Don’t tell me to smile.” “Don’t ask me what I’m grateful for.” Gosh, the root cause of that resistance is worth meditating on for a full year! Maybe a lifetime! Perhaps we think it’s simply easier to contract, to say no, to not make the effort? From experience, I can tell you that when I go with it… reflect upon my “gratitude list” for the day, it is exponentially rewarding. And actually requires very little effort – not unlike a smile.
It seems that as soon as soon as I find the first thing that I am grateful for, the momentum builds and I find myself in a delightful state of expansiveness. Suddenly, the floodgates open and gratitude and appreciation flow… at least that’s my experience. It becomes like a game of appreciation hopscotch… hopping about, noticing everything in my world—the smallest details of the most inconsequential things: the nice splash of blue on the handle of my tea cup, the softness of the shadow on the wall, the wide variety of pleasant birdsong coming in through my window; these things are just there, right in front of me and all around me. And I appreciate them.
And then there’s gratitude for the larger things: gratitude for my health, for running water—for my friends, for the patience of my husband, for the caring nature of my father, for the humor of my best friend. Pondering the things on your gratitude list for the day generates a shift. That shift is from smallness to grandeur—from contraction to expansion—from pettiness and judgment to acceptance. That shift is from the limitations of the personality to the wholeheartedness of Being. The human spirit is big enough to hold gratitude and to welcome appreciation.