Several weeks ago, I developed a floater in my left eye. I didn't think too much about it, but then I noticed a flash of light in the outer corner of my field of vision when I moved my eyes a certain way. An internet search scared me to death, as they often do, and I made a hasty appointment with an ophthalmologist, who squeezed me in as an emergency after hearing my symptoms, which of course compounded my fears. It turns out that I have a common condition as people age. It's not serious. And so I drove home from my appointment, so relieved and grateful that I swore to myself I'd never take my vision for granted, ever again. I'd be grateful every day. Well it lasted about a day and a half.
There are happiness gurus and law of attraction types, who say that you should make a practice of gratitude. And while I can attest to its effectiveness in shifting one's mood or perspective, sort of like positive thinking, there's something about this approach that feels a little outer-focused and ego-directed, and for me, temporary. It suggests that as long as I'm using my will and mental discipline to control, monitor, and direct my thoughts, I'm gonna feel OK. This strategy is popular in the psychology field and many popular therapy techniques are based on this premise. I however, think it's crap.
As long as you are counting on your little personal will and ego-driven, control-seeking thinking brain to make yourself feel happy, grateful, or OK, to override your physiology, to improve your emotional state, there will come a time when the circumstances of your life exceed your egoic mind's capacity to control your bodymind's emotional response. The thinking brain is limited in that way. That is why the combat veteran cannot positive-self-talk his way out of hitting the ground when he hears a car backfire.
So what does this have to do with gratitude and why is Shelly turning a perfectly lovely holiday intention into a problem?, you might ask.
It's because I want so much more for us than what our minds can conjure, because we are so much more than our minds and what our minds can know. Beyond my gratitude for the many blessings that my mind can rattle off, like a gratitude laundry list, lies the state of deep appreciation, wholeness, and all-is-wellness, that lies beneath, above, through, and on which all of my gratituding appears. It is this state that is always available to us. It's who we really are. And from that place, conditions don't have to be right in order for me to feel good, and I don't have to work at it if they're not. I'm like George Bailey in It's A Wonderful Life, Isn't it wonderful? I'm going to jail!
That is my wish for me and my wish for you. Beyond I am grateful for___, beyond I am grateful, is I am. And friends, it just doesn't get any better, greater, or more abundant than that.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!