Monday, November 22, 2010

Thoughts on gratitude and happiness...

"...happiness is above all a love of is a purging of mental toxins, such as hatred and obsession, that literally poison the mind."
~~~Matthieu Ricard

I have recently started reading "Happiness", a book by Matthieu Ricard, a Buddhist monk who left a promising career in cellular genetics in his native France to move to Nepal and pursue his true calling. The book was recommended to me by a client who thought I might enjoy it; she was absolutely right! Everything that I have read so far has resonated deeply within me.

I have learned from my experiences over the last several years, just how powerful my attitude is in the way I view the events of my life. For years, I was a cynical, pessimistic person and, not surprisingly, my life was pretty miserable. I was devoid of hope and considered myself a victim of circumstance; I reacted to the events of my life and thought that everything (bad) happened to me. What I didn't know then was that I had choices, including a choice about how I looked at my life. I could focus on what was good rather than what, in my opinion, was bad or unfair.
This realization was a major turning point in my life! I felt empowered, rather than victimized. I could choose what to focus upon and, in doing so, shift my perspective. I felt like I has slipped on a new set of glasses, which enabled me to see the beauty around me that I had previously ignored. I felt happy.

For me, gratitude is inexorably linked to my level of happiness. The more grateful I am for what I have, the happier I am. I don't know how it works, but I know that it does.
We are faced with a lot of challenges in today's world. It would be easy for me to sit back and focus on everything that is going wrong and all the material losses that many people have experienced. There is no denying that we are facing a time of major change. However, I believe that there is still a lot of good in the world. As I type those words, I realize that, to some, that may sound a bit like Pollyanna. That's ok by me.

I believe that our attitude shapes the world we live in. To quote one of my favorite authors, Dr, Wayne Dyer, "Loving people live in a loving world. Hostile people live in a hostile world. Same world."

For me, negativity is toxic and it feeds upon itself. Most days, I choose to look for the silver lining in a situation. It just works better for me. I know what my life was like before I realized I had a choice to look for the good or focus on the bad; I don't want to go back there. My life is better when I focus on the good stuff. I'm grateful that I know I have that choice.

So, in preparation for Thanksgiving, I will be in the kitchen baking biscotti, something that brings me immense joy. Tomorrow I will spend the day with many of the people I love, eating delicious food and reflecting on the blessings in our lives. I can't wait!

I am grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you in this blog. I would love to hear how gratitude has worked in your life.

Wishing you and yours a joyous Thanksgiving!

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