Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.~William Arthur Ward
You want to be grateful for what you have, but if you cut straight to the truth? You aren’t feeling it.
For a lot of people, acknowledging that truth brings with it immediate shame — the shame of knowing that in a world where so many people go homeless or hungry; or are hurt, abandoned, or abused; or are dealing with a serious illness or the death of a loved one, not feeling grateful is very, very bad.
So, we try gratitude on. “Okay,” we say, tossing our hair back and squaring our shoulders. “Let me focus on gratitude. Here I go.”
We think of 10 things to be grateful for, and then … deep breath … it is still there, that subtle and abiding sense of low-grade disappointment or sadness or disconnection from yourself or the world.
It can be the ultimate lose-lose scenario. If you push yourself to feel grateful when you know that it’s not happening on a core level, you feel like a phony. If you aren’t grateful, then …well, you’re ungrateful. No bueno.
“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
Countless self-help gurus urge people to find their purpose, to lead a purpose-driven life, to be purposeful about their choices.
The thinking goes like this: If you’re feeling a pervasive sense of un-fulfillment and lack — perhaps sprinkled with varying degrees of anxiety or sadness or anger — then you’re probably lacking your purpose. Find your purpose, the enlightened people say, and all else in life clicks into place.
Roger that. It’s a logical thread to follow.
There’s just one problem: Trying to find your life purpose causes a lot of people more stress and anxiety. It throws life wildly out of balance. It creates striving. Until that holy grail of Here’s my life purpose is found, life can feel perpetually lacking.
The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows.~Buddha
After I graduated from college and started earning a decent paycheck, I spent a fair amount of time flipping through glossy home decorating magazines and meandering through home furnishing stores.
I was “setting up house” for real for the first time in my life. It seemed very important that I get the décor exactly right because it would make an important declaration to the world about my personality and lifestyle.
But choosing just the right style was hard — because I didn’t have my own style yet. Well, no … I knew I must have one. I just had to figure out what it was.
Let go of who you think you should be and embrace who you are.~Brené Brown
Do you ever fear that who you are isn’t enough — you put on a mask and become someone you’re not to avoid rejection?
This has been me for most of my life. From a young age I never felt as though I was good enough. Growing up as an introvert surrounded by extroverts was what first got me questioning myself.
Everyone seemed to love the opposite of what I was. I felt unloved, and I became ashamed of myself.
This was the beginning of many years of self-destruction. I so desperately wanted to be accepted and loved by others. I did whatever it took to be what I thought people wanted to see. Even if it wasn’t in line with who I was and what I truly valued.
I hid behind a mask. I pretended to be someone I wasn’t. It was my protection from allowing people to get to know the real me so I could avoid rejection. This is how I lived for 23 years.
Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow. It only saps today of its joy.~Leo Buscaglia
My mother, a woman who is steadfastly spiritual and always looking for a way to move into greater understanding of herself and others, recently attended a meeting for our church where she serves as a prayer practitioner.
Each of the participants were recounting the issues they were working through, some rooted in relationships, others in careers.
When it was my mom’s turn to share, she expressed that she felt beaten down by the financial trouble that was on the horizon once again after recent layoffs left both her and my dad without jobs.
One of the women turned to her and simply said, “Are you ready to let go of the struggle?”
Her first instinct was to say, “Yes, of course. Who wants to struggle?” But as she sat with the idea, she noticed the pattern, the strings of attachment and the payoff of being in a constant state of upheaval, worry and uncertainty.
Compassion brings us to a stop, and for a moment we rise above ourselves.~Mason Cooley
I was on my way home after purchasing a lavender-scented candle to help kick start a relaxing atmosphere I desperately needed to wind down from a terrible and emotionally draining week at work. I was rummaging for my keys in my purse for what seemed like forever.
Oh no! Are you kidding me? I didn’t have my keys!
I could see my keys right now in my mind’s eye. There they were, resting on the table by the side of the door. That morning my boyfriend locked the door as we headed off to work, while I unknowingly left my keys at home.
The thing was that he just got on a bus to meet up with a friend on the other side of town.
I couldn’t help but laugh miserably at myself. What a fitting ending to a horrible week.
Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it everyday.~Henri Nouwen
“If I’m not fully happy right now in this moment, nothing will ever make me happy.”
The thought struck me as I stood at the kitchen sink scrubbing the dishes. It appeared organically, but it felt like something I already knew, a conclusion I was returning to, not recognizing for the first time.
One of those moments where you say, “Oh yeah, I forgot about that.”
It wasn’t a moment that I should have been happy — one of those milestones in which happiness is actually a requirement, i.e. graduations, weddings, etc.
It was ordinary. I was tackling a mundane task and thinking about what I needed to get done in the next 24 hours.
Yet, in a moment of clarity — one I didn’t muscle into fruition — I recognized that everything I had longed, begged and dreamt about a year ago was there, in my current experience.
Sometimes a leap of faith is the only available transportation.~Margaret Shepherd
The wind kicked up the desert sands behind me as I leaned forward, cautiously looking over the edge. The fissure had no visible bottom. On the other side, just a few feet away, the trees beckoned invitingly, promising water, promising shade.
There was nothing for me to go back to; if I wanted to go forward at all, I was going to have to jump. My heart ached to advance, but my knotted stomach held me back.
What if I can’t jump that far? What if I fall? What if it’s even worse over there on the other side?
OK, perhaps I’m being a little dramatic; I wasn’t literally standing in a desert. Or technically even jumping over anything. But the fear was completely real.