18 June 2012

Live Radically Grateful

We are truly abundant when we can live in a state of radical gratitude. Though simple gratitude is wonderful enough; radical gratitude takes us to places that are beyond our deepest imaginings. Being grateful means recognizing and appreciating all of the material abundance in our lives. We acknowledge our means and give thanks for them. Living in a state of radical gratitude means not only acknowledging those material and tangible things, but also acknowledging the intangibles as well. Those are the things we most take for granted because we cannot readily see and touch them in our lives. It is not until tragedy strikes that we begin to really see those things that are unseen to the naked eye.

There are the simple things to give thanks for: shelter, food, clothing, and some means to have all of our basic needs provided for. Yet, there are those things that we do overlook: a loved one’s smile, a mass transit system that gets us where we need to go, a reliable though slow computer, running water. It is usually when our loved one frowns upon us that we take notice and complain, rather than appreciating and thanking them for the smile. We do notice when the water stops running so freely as opposed to giving thanks for the countless times the water does flow effortlessly.

It has been said that until we acknowledge the small things, the big things will continue to elude us. I have found this to be the case. It is when I can truly acknowledge and appreciate all the small things, the intangible things in my life, that I see an increase in the larger things. Radical gratitude is seeing all of those small, insignificant things. It is also seeing those people, things and circumstances that seem not so kind: the rude boss, the loss of a dear one, an illness. It is difficult to find anything to be grateful for in those situations. Yet, this is the time for radical gratitude. Those are the moments in our lives that try and test our resolve; showing our true strength and stamina.

I have had many losses in my life, some worse than others. I am constantly asked how I stay so positive in those moments of crisis. My answer is radical gratitude. I always say to myself it could be much worse; others have it much worse than I, and this is a lesson to grow me and a blessing to show me that grace abounds. When those moments of crisis occur, that is the time to think less of myself and more of others. This can be a hard thing to do, especially when you are in some emotional pain. The pain will change and soften, if not totally disappear. But until that time, you are not meant to sit and suffer. Remember, pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. Instead of choosing to suffer, make the choice to reach out and help another person who is also in pain. It will ease the pain for both of you.

There is a Native American proverb which states, “When you share your grief, it is halved; but when you share your joy, it is doubled.” There is also a line in the famous Peace Prayer attributed to Francis of Assisi that states, “It is in giving that we receive.” I take these two quotes very much to heart. It is through the losses that I can live in these two sayings. Loss brings with it grief, and grief brings the healing and the growth to step into a new light. Radical gratitude helps you step into that new light. With radical gratitude comes an awareness of our own finiteness, therefore bringing us to a place of deep reverence for all that we have been privileged to receive. When I can live from that place of radical gratitude, then I can witness to the abundance in my life.

May you be radically grateful,

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