Gratitude: An expansive muscle

November 25, 2015


It’s the day before Thanksgiving and we’ve been busy with the usual prepping, something I enjoy every year. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s doesn’t require lines at the mall to spend money you don’t have on gifts, just because it’s expected. Or two-hour waits at a restaurant for Mother’s Day. No, it’s about spending time with family, good food, and giving thanks for all that we have in our lives.

I say this for those of us who are fortunate to live in a country that is not torn apart by war, or faced with widespread famine, or religious persecution. Such is the plight of the Syrians which remain heavy on my mind. We took a break in the joyful preparation for Thanksgiving to consult with our board about any topic they wanted to share. Here is what they had to say.

Arad: Always an ever ending list of topics here, but let us start small. Gratitude!

Elena: Yes, tomorrow is Thanksgiving.

Arad: Yes. How can we embrace this [gratitude] more fully in our lives?

Elena: Well, for me, it’s always having gratitude present in my mind—all that I have in my life—and demonstrating my gratitude in many ways. Living from a place of gratitude alters your day-to-day behavior and outlook in life and having gratitude ultimately gives you the utmost compassion for others.

Arad: Well defined, Elena. Another query—when do you feel a disconnect from your well of gratitude?

Elena: I think when I’m distracted with the mundane things of everyday life, when life isn’t going my way and when I feel self-pity.

Eryn:  I find I lose my connection to gratitude when I compare myself to other people. I feel gratitude always as an experience outside myself. I don’t want to look at people starving in Africa to feel gratitude. Real gratitude should be felt…not just something you are reminded of.  I question that in myself, my ability to truly feel grateful. I’m so fortunate and I wonder if I realize how fortunate I really am.

Gratitude is a joyful discipline, a gracious habit, an expansive muscle…

Arad: And we feel that you both can view the emotional responses that you have to the refugees in this way. There is a larger narrative here to explore—one where those who are without homes demonstrate the true meaning of wealth and security to those who live in the mansions.

Elena: Yes, and even those who don’t.

Arad: Yes. We ask that you spend one moment between frantic noise and obligation to be truly grateful for all the majesty that are your lives, respectively.

Elena: Yes.

Arad: Gratitude is a joyful discipline, a gracious habit, an expansive muscle—move it, grow it, breathe it! Now we ask that our two beautiful passing ships in the night, take a moment to say one expression of gratitude to each other.

Elena: Yes, we should do it everyday.

Arad: Now.

Elena: Oh, you mean now?

Arad: Pressure is on!

Eryn: I’ll start off today! I get up this morning and it’s cold outside.  I know I have to take out the trash and I discover it’s already done. You’re always thinking of me and I don’t know what I would do without you. You are my horizon. So I’m grateful for that and grateful to my soul and your soul for making an agreement to be in this life this way, because it’s so incredible.

Elena: Well, to start, I’m grateful you came into my life…this beautiful little girl. You are everything I always wanted in a daughter. I’m also grateful for your hard headedness because it keeps me in check. You stand up for yourself, you’re an individual and you’re not easily controlled. So I appreciate that in you. I think one of the things I appreciate the most is your sweetness…you bring such sweetness to my life. You’re always very present with me and the communication we have fills me.  Every embrace, every kiss on my cheek fills my heart. I’m very grateful for this outward affection you show me. I know it can be difficult as a young woman. As I was growing up, I struggled with that because it made me feel like I was still a child, not independent, not my own person.

Eryn: You’ve always helped me feel that I’m my own person.

And so we embraced, filled with gratitude for each other. We talked about the significance of this exercise Arad led us through. When was the last time we spoke of our appreciation for each other? We get busy with life and are not mindful of the importance of expressing our gratitude to others. It was then that Khaled joined us to express our board’s gratitude to each of us.

-Khaled joins the board.-

Khaled: A beautiful expression dear ones, Khaled here to butt in on this conference of love!

Elena: Always welcome!

Khaled: Dear and curious E-l-l-e-e-n-n-a-a, we, the collective, are grateful for your insatiable curiosity. May your curiosity never be sated and may you feast at the table of wisdom and delight!

Elena: Lovely. Thank you!

Khaled: Nourished by the love of all who surround you at your table in this world and beyond! We raise our glass to you and smile at the soul who awaits to share your glass, may he fill the cup of your life with beauty, integrity, joy, and grace.

Khaled: Eryn—sweetness that you are—we are grateful for your beingness and the beauty-love-succor that you offer others freely. You are a gift, Christmas eternally early.

Elena: Yes, she is isn’t she?

Khaled: Yes. We raise our glass to you and smile to the beauty and wisdom you will be recognized for sharing. We know you will smile because you will recognize this in yourself!

Elena: We raise our glass to all our board members…

Khaled: Much love and thanks to you both! Goodbye.