Grateful living, or living in touch with the great fullness of life, has the ability to significantly and positively alter our lives and the larger world in which we live.
Grateful living asks us to purposefully direct our awareness to notice all that is already fully present and abundant in our lives - from the tiniest things of beauty to the grandest of our blessings - and in so doing, to take nothing for granted. Grateful living as a practice powerfully affirms that we can be in charge of our attention, and can point it towards that which serves the fullness of our learning, our lives, our relationships, and the world. And, amazingly, every single moment can offer us this opportunity…not a single moment need escape our gratefulness…even if it is simply to learn from that which is most difficult. We have the choice to be in touch with the “fullness” of everything.
In infinite ways, grateful living offers an unparalleled pathway to the experience of “enough,” and even more than enough, in our lives. Suddenly, the barren corners of our homes are rich with things for which to be thankful. What seemed lacking in our relationship now feels full to overflowing. Our bodies are miraculous. Electricity itself blows our minds. Our days can be one discovery after another of blessing and opportunity. And the earth can seem an endless symphony of beauty.
When we are in touch with enough-ness, when we feel like we are and have enough, we become less susceptible to cultural norms of complaint, envy, scarcity, comparison, and insatiability; all sources of suffering, and separation from ourselves, each other and the planet, and also the ways that we get caught in the “more is better” mentality. When we are so busy unconsciously rushing towards more, as Soul of Money author Lynne Twist says, we rush right over/past “enough” and do not even notice it…like an inconvenient speed-bump.
In this way, grateful living is an antidote to scarcity and insatiability. And it is radical because it establishes the only real, lasting conditions for generosity, kindness, compassion and the impulse to serve. When we are awake to all that is enough in our lives, we can turn our attention beyond ourselves. We need to feel our fullness in order to have anything truly meaningful to offer the world.
And since scarcity and insatiability are the drivers for so much that is unsustainable and unjust in our world right now, grateful living can be seen as not merely a salve of complacency and self-satisfaction, but as a protective impulse that wakes us up to act on behalf of the things for which we feel grateful. In this, gratefulness has the power to awaken us to greater purpose to preserve and tend the things we notice are worth cherishing – all the fragile blessing that surrounds us and is charged to our care.
Grateful living invites a radical experience of sufficiency, and sufficiency invites us toward using our lives and resources in more radically generous, open-hearted, and conscientious ways. This truth offers me hope - for our lives, each other and the world. And hope is a longing and blessing for which we can all be deeply grateful…