The good news is that gratitude can be cultivated! It requires the intention to remember that within any situation there is always something to be grateful for. This begins to open our heart and mind to new possibilities.
The truth is that there are losses and gain within each situation, but sometimes we don’t notice any possible gain, as the loss seems so devastating.
However, we can choose to become aware of what our mind is feeling and what we are thinking about. This is important, for neuroscience tells us that mind structures the brain.
Our attention structures our brain. Many times each day I ask myself what my mind is focusing on right now. Is it worry? Is it anger? Is it sadness? Am I remembering a painful situation? Am I concerned over plans that I am putting together?
No matter what my mind is focusing on, I have a choice as to my response.
The ability to choose my response is a gift and I am grateful for this amazing gift of choice!
I don’t get to choose the outcome, but I do choose my response. Each response affects my life, and I believe affects the world, as we are all interconnected.
Or we can stay in reactivity—simply being unaware of what our mind is doing and following our conditioned behavior. But reactivity offers no solutions to what we are facing. Instead it will keep us on that hamster wheel, going round and round and staying stuck with the same old challenges.
Our decision to be grateful that we can choose gives us power. We are not totally immersed in the situation. We have wiggle room. We have options!
Taking time to observe what our mind is doing slows us down and we are well served by not jumping to a conclusion and then reacting.
Instead we can ask, “And what else?”
We choose to become an observer instead of jumping into the contents, the story of a situation. We stay in the observer’s seat watching patiently as the scenes change.
We notice if we are blaming, ourselves or others. Blame is a sure sign of reactivity. Blame helps no one. There is no gratitude in blame.
It is important to clarify whether we want to be a part of the solution or the problem. This is our choice.
Whatever we focus on becomes more so. This is the way the universe works. When we focus on what we don’t have, we have less well being. When we focus on what is here and available to us, we feel more hopeful about life. This is gratitude.
Our focus cultivates neuropathways through which our energy flows. This is how our brain gets structured. Old neuropathways are filled with old opinions and beliefs. Do we want to keep walking down those old paths?
Our view determines our experience. Gratitude is a lens through which we see life.
When we remember to choose gratitude we open new neural pathways in our brain.
Each choice either brightens our future or creates more darkness and despair.
Paying attention to what our mind is doing and the lens through which we are seeing puts us in a place of power in our life. We are not victims of circumstances. Old patterns and conditions do not need to win the day.
Gratitude (which is a decision) causes us to feel lighter, as it has opened out heart in compassion. We feel for what has been. We open our heart to the pain while not falling into the pit. We know what it is to suffer. We don’t discount any suffering or pain. And we also know that this is what has been and there are new possibilities. We don’t need to know what they are, but just open to them.
Through this process our vistas have widened. The future is not already decided. Fate does not hold us in its clutches.
Instead the next moment quivers, unknown, waiting for us to step into. As we do so we are being helped by invisible and subtle resources. The mysterious power of an open, grateful and compassionate heart guides us and reveals new paths.
We can be so grateful for this! Our heart feels more joy as we follow the inspiration we receive. We step into the new and unknown. Yes, this is the hero’s journey, and we are the hero.
Choosing gratitude takes courage. It is our choice.