mindful Gratitude Challenge Week 4
Below are the mindful Gratitude Challenges for Week 4:
Day 22: mindful GRATITUDE CHALLENGE *Appreciating Our Modern Conveniences *
Today we continue appreciating the world around us, specifically focusing on the tools in our world that make modern living easier. That’s not to say living in this modern world is easy. There is still suffering in this world as seen in disease, poverty, political unrest, and discrimination, to name a few. But let’s face it; the challenges and conditions our ancestors faced were much harsher than those we are presented with today.
Modern conveniences, such as:
- medicine to alleviate most pain and diseases,
- technology that connects us to each other – like the phone, internet and television,
- technology that makes our work easier -like computers, washing machines, and even indoor plumbing,
- transportation that enables us to travel at speeds never realized before (comparing walking and the horse & buggy to an airplane or rocket).
We are blessed to be living at this time. A slough of inventors and practitioners who have come before us did the hard work to imagine something different, and toiled to put it into place. We can now reap the rewards, and perhaps be motivated to continue the progress. Afterall, we have not eradicated ALL disease. The world is still hungry, as there are groups of people in the world starving. We have political unrest that threatens our daily existence at times. This list of advances we may propagate can go on and on– and motivate us to continue to learn, improve, and go beyond.
But for today, let’s notice and call to mind all the devices and conveniences that you use daily, weekly, monthly or yearly. Bring gratitude for all the minds and hands that came before you, to help make these things possible and enable you to live your day with some ease. Be it the developers of vaccines, or medical practices; the ability to connect in a multitude of ways (with more than computers/phone/internet. Think here of our language systems and shared knowledge); conveniences in the home (many we take for granted); utilities that deliver resources to help us to live somewhat safe and organized; healthy food to sustain our lives, and social resources that we collectively employ to ensure the devopment and survival of our species and all creatures on our planet. Simply notice today, and bring some gratitude for all the others of our past that directly influence the quality of our days, and allow the possibilities in the future.
Day 23: mindful GRATITUDE CHALLENGE *Appreciating Connection*
Continuing the theme of appreciating our outer world, today’s focus of gratitude rests on connection – being grateful to those with whom we connect, and the ability to connect. The pro-social nature of humanity is engrained in our DNA: we are made to connect and cooperate. From the time we are born, relying on others for our care and development, to the time we have lived life fully- once again relying on others for our care– our survival depends on moments of connection. This interconnectedness is one of the greatest influencers on our well-being as it allows us to open up and flourish, seeing the big picture and where we may fit in, and the resouces we have available to us.
The connections don’t have to be monumental to have an impact. Even the smaller or micro-moments of connection have a role in our lives. In her book, Love 2.0, Barbara Fredrickson talks about how a micro-moment of connection – like a smile- can impact the life of one person, who may then continue that smile and connection with another. Ever hear of emotional contagion? Of course the longer the connection, the more profound effect- one would hope.
Connection doesn’t always have to be through positive interactions… infact, many connections are made through other emotional states as well. To shed some light on this topic, we look to mirror neurons (Barbara Fredrickson talks about this in her book as well). The mirror neurons we possess in our brains allow for us to experience the distress or state of another, and mirror the emotion we see or feel through empathy. What may then prevail is the feeling of compassion to help alleviate the distress. The ability to connect in this manner is universal- enabling a sense of common humanity- and the feeling that we are not alone. We are all connected by our human experience and ability to share in the feelings we universally embody- sadness, happiness, joy, pride, compassion, awe, anxiousness, etc…
So, today bring gratitude for this feeling of human connectedness. Whether you are grateful for humanity at large, or the smaller social, professional, and spiritual networks, to the most basic social groups as seen in family, friends and even a partnership; connecting to others can bring so much reward, fulfillment and health. It improves our immune systems, emotional states, and strengthens our social support.
Be grateful for all the connections you have- not focusing on quantity as in how many Facebook friends one’s acquired, but on the ABILITY to connect in whatever way possible, even micro-moments. And tomorrow as you sit around your table giving Thanks for life, acknowledge the connection you have with those around you, the connection to those outside your family and friends, the connection to the community, the state, the county and the world. Acknowledge other people from all walks of life, for connecting on the most basic level- being human.
And as you bring in this gratitude, may you breathe out loving -kindness to the world:
May all beings be safe and protected,
May all beings be healthy and strong,
May all beings be happy and content, and
May all beings be free from suffering and live with ease.
Day 24: mindful GRATITUDE CHALLENGE * This is It!*
Welcome to this moment! You have arrived, and you are home. In your body, in your breath and in this moment, as we begin our 24th Day (and last day) of the mindful GRATITUDE CHALLENGE. As the name of today’s challenge suggests, today we will cultivate gratitude for this moment, as this is where the living takes place, and not in the future or the past.
“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present.”
~Bil Keane, Joan Rivers, Kung Fu Panda, and many others
On this day, when the United States celebrates a day of being grateful, let us take the present moment to be thankful for what we have, and all we have experienced that has lead us here. Meeting yourself right where you are, take inventory of your present life. Whatever measure of breath, health, relationships, and job or life satisfaction you are experiencing right now, acknowledging it for being present in your life to the degree that it is. Taking inventory of your past—where you cannot live any more, but where you can reflect and bring some gratitude towards, as all the experiences in your past have lead up to this moment. Consider the words of Entrepreneur, Business Man and Life Changer, Steve Jobs:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward;
you can only connect them looking backwards.
So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.
You have to trust in something-your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever”
By connecting the dots, we see that all experiences have lessons and trajectories that we may not have predicted in the present. It’s only by looking back that we see the thread. And it’s by looking back that we can put trust in the future, as Steve says. Knowing that life will unfold as it needs to, and that all we need to do is trust in our decisions and actions, can help us from living in the future and ruminating over the what-if scenarios.
Taking inventory of this moment, bring gratitude for whatever is here—in your thoughts, emotions, sensations. Giving gratitude for being able to experience whatever it is that is before us: whether we are gathering with friends and family today, or finding solace in our own presence; whether we are in the heights of happiness and joy, or the lows of sadness. Let’s bring gratitude for being right where we are in life, for all experiences are fleeting, and have made all the difference in our journey.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
Bring gratitude for the blessings of nourishment in the form of people, food, activities, purpose, and dreams. Bring gratitude for how we experience this world, and bask in the gift of today! Today is all we have, and is where we can make a conscious choice. As Thich Nhat Hanh says, “This is it.” And as Mary Oliver says, “What will you do with your one wild and precious life?” Putting them together consider, “What will you do with your one wild and precious moment?” Today is a gift…
mindful Gratitude Challenge Week 1
mindful Gratitude Challenge Week 2
mindful Gratitude Challenge Week 3