By Girtrude Belle.
Once more, I’m a few steps behind Saida. Of course, that’s not surprising considering that she is already a superhero and I am just learning to use my superpowers. The point is – I was meditating on what my second conversation with you should be about. The first was really just an introduction, and now we begin. But where to begin from? To paraphrase Lewis Carroll, let us begin from the beginning. In the beginning there was… God, you say? Light? Chaos? You are all right! To make order out of chaos, to bring light out of darkness, to call forth the spirit of godliness which makes all things possible, you need one thing – gratitude. It is interesting that Saida began her 30-day challenge from a talk about gratitude and that I, without having seen it, came to the same conclusion about starting a conversation with you. Perhaps there is something about bowing your head and saying thanks that makes all beginnings meaningful.
Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and, in fact, every other religion and tradition contains some form of thanks-giving before eating a meal. It’s as though humans figured out naturally that saying thanks aids in digestion and ensures somehow the future ability to obtain sustenance. Indeed it is so. A grateful person sleeps better, feels better and as a result is better able to meet the demands of his daily life and journey. An ungrateful, frustrated person spends all of their energy before he gets a chance to use it for what he truly needs.
People the world over have decided that food is important enough to bless ceremoniously, but what about the rest of our life’s activities – are they any less important to our existence, to our success, to our happiness? As we eat on the run and do things in a hurried fashion, because it is so “important” that we get them done we, ironically, strip them of their importance. By not stopping to acknowledge what we are doing and what we are about to do, it is a ghost in the machine performing our actions for us. Our activities become a series of motions that are largely disconnected from our consciousness, our spirit, our essence, our self. And this is the way most people live – frazzled, overwhelmed, and able to see just inches past their own nose. I know – for a long time I lived this way. But we can do better. I know we can because I am watching this transformation happen in myself and I have seen it happen in others. And saying thanks is a great place to start.
Instead of the usual – I wish my legs were longer, maybe you can say to yourself something like “my friend has long lovely legs, and I have beautiful skin. We are so lucky, the both of us.” Instead of I need to get laid, maybe you can think “I am young and alive and my sex drive is healthy, how wonderful!” Instead of I need a boyfriend, I need a better job, I need those Chanel boots, perhaps you can just for a second stop, look around you and say – “my goodness look at all I have!” As soon as you do that, a strange miracle will happen – you will start gradually getting those things you want.
Be grateful to all the people who liked you even when you didn’t like yourself. Where would you be without them? Be grateful for those who took advantage of you, because they showed you what kind of people you won’t be letting into your life again, regardless of their other virtues. Be grateful to those who betrayed you for similar reasons, and also because they were a spoiled apple that you were carrying in your life’s basket, which is now cleaner and fresher. Be extremely grateful to those who truly stood by you, not asking for much in return and were steadfast, loyal, strong and true. On the one hand, there are few such people in the world – on the other hand, the better you get at appreciating and recognizing them, the more such people you will begin to attract into your life. This is how gratitude works. Amazing but true.
As for me, today I am grateful for the creative and brilliant people around me, who believe in themselves and in me. I am grateful for New York City – that it is safe and full of art, that it manages to be full of life and full of quiet magic at the same time. I am grateful for cats. I always figure, God, or whoever created them must have been in a really good mood that day. What about you? What are you grateful for today? Can you think of a time when you failed to be grateful? What happened? Do you know people who are ungrateful for the life they have? How do you think their lives would improve if they were to practice gratitude?