Gratitude - Don't take anything for granted



By God, when you see your beauty you will be the idol of yourself.

- Rumi


I once heard about an experiment a school teacher did with the children in her class.  They made three groups of plants which they watered exactly the same.  To the first group they lavished attention and nice words upon; to the second they did nothing but made negative comments about.  To the third group they ignored as much as possible.  As you might expect the first group of plants thrived, the second were small and stunted.  The third group was even worse than the second group.  Small, tatty, weak and dying. 


Without realising it, this is the way people live their lives - by taking huge chunks of it for granted, by ignoring it.  We wake up in the morning without a second thought for the fact that we are alive, that throughout the night our hearts kept beating, our lungs kept filling with air without us having to do a thing.  Our feet are on the floor and we're off to the shower without even considering the magic involved in walking, the balance, the coordination.  We turn on the water and never marvel at the mechanical genius that means we can have hot water delivered to us, without us having to do more than turn our wrist (...and pay the bill... which we never really appreciate how good it is to have a job or source of money -whatever it may be- that means we can).  We eat our breakfast and drink our coffee and arrange our day and juggle our appointments with our loved ones rarely without even noticing how amazing it is to do all these things at once, without appreciating the good people around us, without knowing how wonderful it is even to have food in our bellies and a roof over our heads. 


We ignore so much of the goodness in our life, only missing it when it is gone.  The only time I would not take my body for granted was when it was sick - when I couldn't just jump out of bed without sneezing and wheezing and blowing my nose all the way.  The only time I appreciated the fact that I had a washing machine was when it broke down and I couldn't just throw my clothes in and walk away.  The only time I was really grateful for the things my girlfriend did for me was when she went away on holiday and I had to do them myself.  I also routinely ignored the fact that I had someone who loved me, that I loved too, despite the little things that annoyed me that I seemed set on focusing on.  I remember reading a story from the bombing of the twin towers in New York; a woman refused to kiss her husband goodbye on the morning he set off for a meeting in one of the buildings because her lipstick was fresh on.  It was the last time she saw him.  We take it for granted that our loved ones are coming back home to us, that we'll get a chance to say goodbye, to tell them how much they mean to us. 


And then we wonder why our lives aren't as we wish, why they aren't matching our ideal.  But if we ignore what we do have, it never has a chance to grow, to become perfect. 


The answer?  Gratitude, the opposite of taking things for granted.  By being thankful for what you do have, exactly as it is, you give it the space and the nourishment to become more.  You transform your perspective on life.  No longer are you a victim, lost as life pushes you in whatever direction it wishes.  You cannot judge and be grateful at the same time.  Perfect.  Envision a child when you give them a present.  When they are truly grateful and excited for what you have given them, you want to give more and more.  Now consider the same child who is not grateful, who complains about what you have just given.  The last thing you want to do is give more.  Life is a giver of gifts, large and small, and you are that child.  Be grateful for what you do have, don't ignore the blessings under your nose. 


But we sit at our boring, unfulfilling jobs, dreaming of being on holiday.  "I'll only be happy when I'm there, on the beach.  Only then can I relax and do the things I want to do.  I'll be peaceful on holiday.  It's actually this job, the people are stupid, no one realises how amazing I am, how much this place needs me.  Without me, everything would fall to pieces.  I definitely need a new job, only then I'll be able to shine, only then I'll be able to live my purpose."  We look at our partners and the way they talk, walk, sit, eat.  "I'll never find true love with her, I need someone else, someone more able, more refined, more intelligent.  Only then will I be content."  We look at our bodies and the way they wobble and go grey and how bits don't work.  "When I lose that weight I'll be perfect, only then can I love myself fully." 


Later, later... always later, always somewhere, something, someone else. 


Don't do it.  Happiness, satisfaction, peace, true love is only found right now, right here, within you.  You don't need to look any further.  Don't ignore the beauty of what you do have, right now; of who you are right now; of the fact that you are alive, right now, able to make any choice you wish, able to do anything you want, right now.  Find satisfaction right now and everything is given the space to change, to grow. 


All is well, right now. 


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