On this Thanksgiving weekend, I want to remind you that gratitude is a virtue that is essential to our happiness. It requires nothing from us to have good things in our lives but it does require something from us to acknowledge and appreciate the good things in our lives.
It takes a willingness to see life as it actually is to take in and savor the good things we enjoy.
To live is to suffer. It is true. In life, there will always be pain and loss. We cannot live without experiencing the often disappointing incongruence between our hopes and the realities we live in. However to be alive at all, to have the privilege of experiencing mortality (including such everyday things as the pleasure of chocolate, the hug of a child, a conversation with a friend), is a remarkable privilege.
When I was exercising recently and rather bored and uncomfortable, I decided to focus my attention on what a privilege it is to be able to exercise at all. I turned my attention to the amazingly beautiful color variation in the brick on the wall I was facing. I reflected that someday I won’t be able to move my body so freely. Spending time meditating this way changed my experience; it moved me into gratitude and increased my ability to embrace the discomfort that comes along with the privilege of living.
We easily look past the miraculous realities in our lives, and more troubling, we often look past the miraculous people in our lives. It is far too easy to take for granted the important others we rely upon, the friends and family who give our lives meaning and offer us connection and acceptance.
So I invite you to make a habit of reflecting on the remarkable everyday realities you get to experience. To more fully embrace the gift of your deeply imperfect life and the deeply imperfect people in it. Doing so will strip you of your entitlement and allow you to see the beauty of being alive.