As we know so well, children really do think it’s all about them. Present a situation to a child and their first thought will to be about how it affects them. Additionally, they will become very distraught if it is not in their favor. We all started out in life with this childlike attitude of inherently wanting the world to revolve around our needs and desires. For most of our lives we are learning not only to accept that it’s not always going to happen, but how to incorporate that truth into our belief system.
When we can enjoy our world as it is right now, inclusive of unmet desires and numerous challenges, we have likely been around the block a few times. We balance our expectations with the realities of our experience. Whatever the situation may be, life experience has taught us to roll with it.
Even with this great awareness, there are times in our lives when we face mighty challenges and wonder how we’re going to get through. Chances are, gratitude is pretty far from our minds in times like these. It isn’t common to face a great physical or emotional challenge and think “wow, what an interesting lesson that I’m having the opportunity to learn and grow from today.” Yet it is exactly that type of thinking that will help us connect with the gratitude that will shine a light on our struggle.
As we age, there are increasing opportunities in our lives for someone rise to the occasion when we most need them to help us achieve our task. It is lovely when we feel touched by these actions. There are also times in which we are proud of our own accomplishments, whether the result benefited ourselves or someone else. To not only feel deep gratitude in these moments, but also find a way to express it, will bring our attention towards the beauty of the experience rather than the hardship.
How do we truly experience gratitude on such a deep level that it helps maintain the balance of enjoying our world amidst challenges? I was reading a compilation of some of the works of C.S. Lewis, and in his “Reflections on the Psalms,” he wrote about the satisfaction there is in expressing our delight and to get out “in poetry or music or paint the upsurge of appreciation…Then indeed the object would be fully appreciated and our delight would have attained perfect development.”
C.S. Lewis really seems to be onto something there. To journal about that which we are grateful for, start off a story with the positive lesson learned or express our appreciation through art would keep our inner eye on the beauty of each day. I believe that we are here to live fully, love deeply and value every interaction to it’s fullest while we are able to experience it.
We can’t have our attention on ego and gratitude at the same time.”
– Deepak Chopra