Gratitude

The practice of gratitude is, I feel, one of the most important practices you can add [easily] to your day.

Feeling grateful for what you already have not only brings more into your life, but helps you become unstuck and creates a natural flow and restores a smooth rhythm. Being grateful benefits you and those around you.

Rather than focusing on what is missing or what you want or need, focus on what you already have, right now, in this moment, today. From the fresh food in your fridge, to your home [no matter what it currently is] and the clothes you wear, the air you breathe and for all that you have around you. Be grateful for things, people, situations and environment separately. When you are truly grateful your feelings create the energy that puts your gratitude into motion, and it is those feelings associated with your gratitude that create all that comes back around to you.

To explain this further, you could simply say to yourself, ‘I am grateful for my car,’ yet not truly feel grateful. To really practise gratitude, we must feel it. If this is not something you do often it might seem a bit odd, awkward or contrived. That’s perfectly normal and OK. After all it isn’t a habit and it isn’t something we are necessarily accustomed to. The society we live in functions on wanting more. We aren’t used to be happy with what we have. Gratitude will change that. If you think about it, to bring more into your life, you really have to be grateful and happy with what you already have.

The banged up car you have, the few pennies in your bank account or your falling down house. Doesn’t matter. Feel grateful you have a beat up car or a few pennies. It is truly amazing how the practice of gratitude transforms your life. You realise that you don’t actually need all the things you think you do to make you feel happy. Being grateful for what you already have makes you realise you are ok just as you are. That isn’t to say you can’t bring more into your life, with gratitude, that happens naturally and often faster, but be ok with what you have now.

By being grateful for what you have, you begin to see that you have enough and in that realisation it can translate to ‘I am enough‘. The most common self limiting belief is the feeling of, ‘I am not good enough‘, which weaves its way throughout our whole lives and works its way into a constant, ‘not enough‘ which in one word is fundamentally, ‘need‘. When you feel you are not good enough you will find that you don’t have enough and are in a constant state of need. You don’t have enough money,  you need more money. Your life mirrors your underlying feeling of not good enough by delivering poor, small and narrow.

It doesn’t matter what your current situation is. No matter how poor, dire or not enough it may seem, anything, or should I say, everything, is possible and you can turn it around. Your current situation is just a reflection of your thoughts, feelings and actions to this point. That’s ok. Start today and practice gratitude for all you have and then some. Be grateful for every detail of your life, including all those people who impact on what you have; from the person at the grocery store to the postman delivering your mail. From the penny you find on the floor to the bills you pay out.

Talking of which, have you ever noticed how much people complain about paying bills? Why not be grateful for paying the bills that put a roof over your head or food on the table every day. The money that enables you to drive a car and turn on a light switch when you walk into a room. When you practice gratitude for what you receive – and importantly, for paying for that privilege, you will find your experience transforms.

To cultivate a practice of gratitude takes time. Choose a regular time during the day when you can practise gratitude. Sometimes this can work when you are having a shower or I know someone who practises gratitude while she is driving to work. By choosing a regular time each day you are more likely to create a habit. You will notice after a short time that gratitude weaves its way into other parts of your day. After all, like attracts like. The more you are grateful, the more you will have to be grateful for.

‘Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.’ – Oprah Winfrey

Mindful of Others

A little background before I begin the story to this post…

I freelance as a brand and marketing consultant, which involves a myriad of different work situations from writing and creating artwork to branding and managing social media. I work for a variety of companies, some regular and some just on a project basis.

Yesterday, I was at a marketing meeting for a business where I’ve managed their brand and marketing provision for the past 3 years.  I enjoy being freelance because I can work from home and manage my own time, but obviously providing regular provision for clients means that I also dip into scenarios where, for all intents and purposes, I am seemingly an employee. I get involved in day to day operations and that includes meetings.

I don’t consider myself conventional in many areas and this lends itself well to being able to work different to most people. I am flexible and can adapt to changing environments and workloads. I like the variety and of having a different ‘head’ on depending who I am working for.

Someone new joined this particular company and although there is great benefit to the business in this person’s role, there is also, in the process, as there often is, a lot of toes being trodden on. Egos are bruised, emotions are high and the meeting became rather fraught. As a parent, it reminded me of when my kids were younger and I would go pick them up from nursery. In this tiny space there would be all these kids jostling for the slide or arguing over who had something first.

Having been through a journey of self development for over 10 years I have come to realise that as we grow into adults, unless we become aware and address our dysfunctions that form from our childhood experiences, they will continue to play out and actually become stronger the older we get.

What better way for them to appear than in the workplace.

I meditate daily, I practice yoga every morning before the birds wake up, I eat a healthy diet, I don’t drink and I have worked on my issues more than I can myself comprehend at times, but this does not make me super human, in fact I would say it makes me more human. It makes me more sensitive and certainly more aware. During the meeting, I too felt a surge of emotions come to the surface around my own role and the benefit of that within the organisation.

I am a constant work in progress and so naturally when I drove home and later mulled over in my mind the events of yesterday, I realised how attached we truly are to things that really, in the grand scheme of things, do not matter.

I don’t say this in the sense of not caring about your job or that the work you do doesn’t matter, I say it in the sense of the way we allow our egos to steer the ship. For when it does, we are allowing our emotions to take control and run away with us. This is what happened yesterday for me and I believe most definitely, for a couple of other people in the room too.

Not only was the meeting difficult, but in jest my beliefs were also questioned. My Buddhist path and the core of what I believe and that which I choose to guide my life with. Together with my role in the business, I not only took these things to heart, but actually questioned them to a degree that resulted in me feeling stressed.

Is it bad to question yourself? Not at all. Tony Robbins always says, ‘quality questions create a quality life.’ I try to avoid good and bad but it came to me in meditation that questioning myself wasn’t the issue. That was just part for the course I was on. The problem was in that I allowed myself to respond unconsciously. I wasn’t present or being mindful at the time. I had slipped into autopilot and the old patterns that had previously for most of my adult life ran the show, were once again in control. You could think of this as your child like self acting out and as I said earlier, jostling for position to keep on the slide or hold the toy. The common saying is known as, throwing our toys out of the pram!

When I am mindful I have empathy for others. I see that often people act out (much like children) their dysfunctions and let their egos run the show. They respond to each emotion as they arise. If you have ever watched children in a playground before, you’ll know the behaviour I am talking about. Adults in a meeting are at times no different.

When we are mindful we are present and aware of our responses. We notice emotions within us, but because we are present we can choose how to respond. We can remain silent, we can ponder on a question or a comment before we say it.

The outcome of being mindful in a situation like I was in yesterday, is vastly different from one where you are on autopilot.

I would not ordinarily question my core beliefs, because over the years I have chosen for them to be there. They are part of who I am and how I choose to live my life. I would not question my value because I have come to know my value and I would not question my behaviour because I always try to be the best I can be and to help others.

However, when you are on autopilot you are not clear and when the ego and emotions run the show there is confusion, doubt and fear.

I left the meeting yesterday feeling all of those things and they plagued me as I went to sleep and during my yoga practice this morning.

Meditation of course brings clarity and during my practice it came to me, that of course I am human (people often need to remind me of that fact), and I can only do my best. To keep on giving, whenever there is opportunity to, to remain humble and keep learning as if a beginner, to continue working on my own personal development so that I can help others, but most importantly to be mindful. Mindful in every moment I can be, because ultimately that enables me to be mindful of others.

When we are mindful of others we can smile and let things go, because we see the humanisms in others that are also present in ourselves. Everyone has their own set of dysfunctions that they play out on a daily basis, everyone is doing the best they can with what they have and who they are. When you are mindful, you are in a place of forgiveness and acceptance of that.

Being mindful of others means you do not need to be right, instead you can choose kindness.

Namasté (I honour that which is in you that is also present within me).

[This beautiful ink and letters image is from Geli. You can visit her blog and read and see more of her work at http://hellogelibee.blogspot.co.uk/ Thank You Geli!]