Thinking about gratitude at times like these, I am reminded of the book ‘diary of a young girl’ which was gifted to me by my friend a few years ago. For those who haven’t read it yet, it is a diary of a young Jewish girl of 13 years old named Anne Frank, which was written at the time of Second World War when she and her family were hiding in a secret annexe from the Nazi Germans. I had wondered then how she must have lived with constant uncertainty and fear of getting caught.
Most of all, I just couldn’t imagine myself in her situation of not being able to go out anywhere, not even being able to open their windows for fear. She only could open her windows at night when no one would be able to see them.
Still reading her diary imparted in me hope and filled my heart with appreciation for the little girl, for she still had the heart to give, heart to feel deep gratitude and appreciation for all the beauty that she still could see even amidst war and the greatest of fear looming in her heart.
The global pandemic that we are facing right now is no less than any war. It is as if the whole world is in hiding from an enemy which we can’t even see. At such times feelings of hopelessness and despair seem to arise naturally. We’re all trying to win against similar struggles ranging from fear to economic insecurity. But if Anne Frank could still have dreams and think of the future, so can we.
At such times, one human emotion which can help us cope with anxiety, fear or any distressing emotions is the noble feeling of gratitude or appreciation for all the things we still have.
Gratitude is the opposite of complains.
While Complaints blocks our positivity, gratitude gives way to more positivity.
While complaints drain us of our energy, gratitude makes our heart light and gives us hope and assurance.
While complaints make us focus on the problems, gratitude begins by counting our blessings.
Complains also drains us of our mental stress, increases anxiety, levels up the pressure and is the cause of various health problems. Doctors have now started to understand after all how important our inner state of life too is in battling any illness or in preventing any illness. They are now starting to advise their patients that they need to remain calm, fearless and hopeful above all else along with prescribing medicines.
Hence here is where the practice of gratitude comes in.
Gratitude is good for our health. Having a sense of gratitude improves our immune system and this is all the more important because all we need in order to fight against the Covid-19 virus is to build up our immunity. Perhaps it was rightly said by one of our senior leaders in faith, that “developing a high life force is the only vaccination against this illness.” And we cannot hope to have a high life force if we are constantly complaining and fearing. We need to replace it with the practice of gratitude.
Yes, gratitude IS a practice. If we can learn how to complain, we can also learn how to be grateful.
Here before I mention about all the things that I still find myself being grateful for, I’d like to share with you my experience.
Recently one of my college classmates added me in a group named ‘21 days abundance program’ by Deepak Chopra. I find no harm in trying what tries to improve us and I consented to do the tasks. I have been receiving an audio clip of 12-15 minutes of guided meditation along with the tasks that we need to do each day.
On my 17th day of this abundance program, I received the task for the day which was about living carefree where I had to write all the things that I have which I am grateful for. Synchrodestiny (a word given by Deepak Chopra) always seems to be working for me!
The tasks were as follows. You can write about this too. You need not do the 21 days program to write these down.
Tasks for Day 17:
Create a list of all the important things you have. Material and spiritual. Manifested and not. For example: I have a smart phone. I have real friends. I have internet etc.
As I wrote down my list, I felt really good. It reminded me of all the things that I still have to be grateful for. The list of things I wrote down is:
- I have good sleep every day. I have known the misery that comes in with sleepless nights. Sleep is so important and I am grateful for a good sleep every day.
- I have a home which is surrounded by greenery with some walking space
- I have books to read
- I have education for without it all the treasures that are there in good books wouldn’t mean anything to me.
- I have delicious food to eat which my mother, my loved one and sometimes I cook myself.
- I have a laptop which makes my work easier.
- I have a mobile phone and access to the internet
- I have access to electricity without which nothing I owned would mean anything.
- I have access to water 24/7 which allows me to wash my hands frequently, bathe, cook food, stay hydrated and feel clean. Water is really so noble.
- I have money. No matter how much some say money is nothing, Money is good because through it we are able to provide for our needs, make our loved ones happy and give to the needy.
- I have a good secure job which I love and which gives me full salary even in these uncertain times. This is making me thank more than ever that I got a job at the right time. Had I not got last year, everything would have been delayed because of this pandemic.
- I have hills near me which even though I cannot go now, I can still see its beauty from our terrace and balcony
- I have faith in the Gohonzon, ‘Nam Myoho Renge Kyo’ and my comrades in faith.
- I have spirituality
- I have good health and strength in my body which enables me to exercise using the SWEAT app by Kayla Itsines’ and makes me feel greatly rejuvenated.
- I have my mother close to me. She is safe and in good health. That is the greatest thing.
- I have my partner close to me who loves me and whom I love to love.
- I have my dog, Bella. Without her, this lockdown wouldn’t have been so fun. She makes us happy and makes us laugh. Her presence eases us and I am so grateful for Bella.
- I have genuinely good friends even though they may be few.
- I have street dogs I give food to every day. They are indirectly allowing me to do good every day too. They love me and I love them.
- I have legs to walk, eyes to see, ears to hear and body to touch and feel. We forget that our body is perhaps the most important thing for without it, we cannot enjoy anything.
- Lastly, and most importantly, I Have Life~ without it none of these things not even our body, would be possible to enjoy and appreciate. Always deeply grateful for this gift of life. As long as we have life, everything is possible. Without life, nothing is. And it is sad that we don’t remember this often and so end up living our days complaining and feeling bored not knowing what to do with this gift of life.
Most of the things from my gratitude list is something which we all have but end up taking for granted. These days I have been writing a gratitude list every day in my journal. I write down 10 things I am grateful for along with the reason.
If you make your own gratitude list, you might not have some which I have and I might not have some which you have. But there will always always be something to be grateful for. Also, every day presents us with something unique to be grateful for. Even if you find that there is just one thing, focus on that one thing and let it give you hope.
I know the world right now is such that even feeling grateful and happy makes us feel guilty when we see the world and other people suffering. But if we suffer too, become unhappy and miserable, what good does it do too? We then only add up suffering to the already suffering world. Hence no matter what happens, you and I must be happy, you and I must practice gratitude, you and I must have hope, you and I must be invincible together, because only then can we add happiness, appreciation and hope to this world that is suffering.
And this always begins with less complaints and more gratitude. Let us start making our own gratitude list and find things every day for which we must be grateful for.
Lots of love