Gratitude

While swiftly sailing from one Turkey Fest to another propelled by a furious Hellgate wind at our backs here in Missoula, I am internally wrapping Thanksgiving gratitude and New Year's resolutions into one contemplation. Squeezed inbetween lies the return of Light to the world, and days getting longer by the minute - soon. And last not least, the next installation of "The Hobbit" is being released to the big screen just before my birthday. Oh yes, I have so much to be grateful for! Today, at sub-zero temperatures, firewood and space heaters are ranking right at the top of my list. 

Our world is changing faster and in more dramatic ways than ever before in human history. How quickly our best laid plans can change! How abruptly our expectations of continuity can be trashed! This realization can bring about anxiety and depression. How can you deal with that in a constructive way?

First and foremost, don't believe everything you think. When your mind conjures up frightful possible scenarios, bring yourself back into this present moment. Right here, right now, do you have what you need? If you don't have something, is it really true that you need it in this moment? Is it possible that the things you need will show up when you actually do need them? Cultivating an attitude of gratitude turns our creative energy towards that which we want more of. The most effective prayer is: "Thank You!"

Make space in your busy day every day to sit still and listen for 10 or 15 minutes. Listen to the chatter in your brain with a little internal distance until you become conscious of the repeated pattern in your thoughts. Writing them down might help in the process. You already know the story you tell yourself over and over again. But being aware of your story as a story, nothing else, you can choose to not buy into it any longer when you realize that it does not serve you, does not bring about peace and happiness. You can realize that you are not your story. Ask yourself, Who would you be right now without that story? How would you feel?

When you are ready, take a deep breath, and switch your attention from the mind chatter to the still, quiet Voice Within. You might have to ask it to turn up the volume a bit. A sincere request will be granted. If your ears are plugged by doubt or cynicism, hearing is not a question of volume but of receptivity. In that case, ask for help to remove such obstacles. Again, every sincere request will be granted. It just might take a little longer than some of us impatient characters would prefer.

If you are done sweating the small stuff, ask the Voice Within what It considers to be the Big Stuff. You know it in your heart. Concentrate your goal setting on the Big Stuff. Indicate your commitment to it by taking some practical, pro-active steps in its direction, and trust that a benign Universe will conspire to carry you safely to your destination. If you need some inspiration, watch the movie "Kon Tiki".

Most importantly, throughout your journey on this earth, day by day, treat yourself kindly. Let yourself be filled with kindness to overflowing. Compassion for oneself is not narcissism. It is a prerequisite for true compassion for others. And that is Big Stuff indeed!