"I Am Gratitude"
The “Gratitude as a Way of Being” approach seems to correlate most strongly with the development of happiness and joy in one’s life. Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Catholic Benedictine monk and creator of Gratefulness.org , says that we have the ability to go beyond momentary grateful experiences, in other words, to “live gratefully.” And how do we begin such a practice? Well, according to Brother David, it is as simple as “Stop. Look. Go.”
*For more depth, watch Brother David’s Ted Talk below
At the core of Brother David’s method is the idea that a grateful person is able to recognize that life, each and every moment, is a gift and an opportunity. Regardless of the situation or circumstance, there is an opportunity to be taken and/or recognized. And this, itself, is the greatest gift.
Living gratefully can only come from practice. If you look for gratitude throughout the day, it pops up in little moments. Joy itself, then, is not what makes us feel grateful. In fact, Gratitude as a Way of being suggests it is the practice of gratitude that invites joy into our lives. As Brene Brown adds, “we are chasing the extraordinary and forgetting the ordinary.” And, by doing so, we do not actively practice gratitude in our daily lives. When you listen to Brene Brown and Brother David, you will hear a differentiation between joy and happiness. Brene Brown says that “happiness is an emotion reliant on other people and circumstances. Joy is a way of life.” Happiness is fleeting and reliant on the moment. A life of joy, on the other hand, is entwined with the notion of living a life in which we are grateful for the gift of opportunity. When we practice gratitude we are able to move beyond a way of thinking, our attitude, and our thoughts become our actions and behavior. Gratitude becomes not what we are doing, but the way we are living, and joy manifests in every moment.
Joy, Brown says, is one of the most terrifying emotions because it has the potential to pair with a sense of apprehension: what if we lose the very thing we enjoy so much? For example, high school graduation day. You have been waiting for this day since the start of your freshman year. You are finally going to take the leap into adulthood and independence that you have been craving. And, with this excitement comes a sense of loss and, perhaps, fear. You will be leaving your comfort zone – moving out, friend groups dispersing, and new responsibilities that come with this independence. What if you fail? Suddenly high school is a safe haven that you couldn’t possibly leave and you lose sight of the new experience you once yearned for. When we interpret a joyous moment as foreshadowing for the worst possible situation, we lose touch with gratitude.
Living a grateful life constantly invites us to find joy in the little things. It is in these moments that we once again can become humble and can break out of the fear of loss mentality. Whether that be the old adage of ‘stopping to smell the roses’, finding shapes in the clouds, listening to a favorite song, watching a smile spread across the face of a child, or finding more french fries at the bottom of the bag, the possibility for joy is all around. It is then up to us whether or not to be grateful for it.
Creating ‘Stop Signs’
These ‘stop signs’ serve as cues to remind us to take a moment to appreciate and feel gratitude. A stop sign can be a note on the light switch that, every time you see it, reminds to be feel thankful for electricity and how lucky you are to have it all the flip of a switch. The stop signs offer us the opportunity to fit moments of gratitude in our day hectic days via ‘scheduled’ time to be present and mindful. Think about some ‘stop signs’ you can create at camp. For example, when you hear the clinic bell (or meal time bell ; )
Get creative and find what works best for you : )
For further information, inspiration, and practice click the link below.
This website offers many resources to start you on your gratitude journey – check out Practice Space page
“Key: We can not only have grateful experiences. We can be people who live gratefully. How? By becoming aware that every moment is a gift” – Brother David
“It’s not joy that makes us grateful, it’s gratitude that makes us joyful”. – Brother David
“It was lovely. I woke up with a great feeling. It was really like she had visited me at this very difficult point in my life and gave me this message: Be gentle, don’t fight things, just try and go with the flow and it will all work out.” – Paul McCartney, on the inspiration for ‘Let it Be’
“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” —Robert Brault
“The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.” —Dalai Lama
“Gratitude is the doorway to joy.”—Thomas Hora
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” —Albert Einstein
“This is a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before.” —Maya Angelou
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