While taking A Million Steps on the Camino de Santiago, puddles of gratitude seeped into my soul from the most unlikely pools. These satiated feelings were stirred by getting a bottom bunk in the hostel or helping a stranger with a blister. Always the simplest events and never involving buying or having stuff.
On my current journey through Manhattan, I have been fortunate to visit the 9/11 memorial on several occasions. The rim of each building is memorialized by a four foot raised bronze wall with every victim’s name perforated on the surface. On the other side of the divider, a strip of calm water passes a steel grate before cascading 30 feet to another flat surface. It slowly glides down a very subtle slope before taking another 30 foot decent into a final and smaller square abyss. Wandering through this space and fills my heart with gratitude for being alive.
How many times is your day ruined because someone cut you off in traffic? Ever pouted because an expensive phone does not get a WiFi signal and you missed the latest treasure on eBay? Have you ever carried a week’s worth of excess weight that originated from a trivial egocentric fight with a colleague.
Time spent on the other side of the ledger will build a protective shield of gratitude. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have and your neighbor does, start each day by appreciating what you DO have in life. Gratitude dilutes toxins from worry, cleanses insatiable greed, and prevents suffocation from self pity. It comes from within and begins as a choice.
Three billion people, or about half of the world’s population live on less then $3.00 per day. Many fellow citizens lack clean drinking water or even basic sanitation. Simmer on these topics next time your are rudely cut off in traffic.
Happiness will rarely make you grateful, but gratitude will always make you happy.