"You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you."
~ Sarah Ban Breathnach ~
I own a lot of "self-help" books. Books about managing money, managing clutter, managing time. I have books on diet (lots of them), exercise, massage and living holistically. Of my three 7+foot bookshelves, several shelves are devoted just to books on improving my life. Of all these type of books, there are five specific books and one series that I read over and over and over. Those books are:
*Simple Abundance, Sarah Ban Breathnach
*Simplify Your Life:100 Ways to Slow Down & Enjoy the Things That Really Matter,
Elaine St. James
*Living the Simple Life: A Guide to Scaling Down and Enjoying More,
Elaine St. James
*Inner Simplicity: 100 Ways to Regain Peace and Nourish Your Soul,
Elaine St. James
*Eat, Pray, Love; Elizabeth Gilbert
*The Chicken Soup Series; Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen
The common threads throughout these books are finding peace within yourself and practicing gratitude. I have come to believe over the last few months that if you practice gratitude- it will lead to finding peace within yourself and the more you find peace within yourself- the more you find for which to be grateful. It is a lovely circle.
It is interesting how your mindset changes when you look at things with gratitude in your heart. One prime example is my struggles with my body. For almost thirty years now I have had issues with my body. I have always been a curvy girl. As a teen- I hated those curves with a passion. As an adult- I yo-yo'd up and down, tried a diet, gave up on dieting, tried a new diet, gave up on dieting- over and over again. When I developed rheumatoid arthritis- I was not surprised that my body would betray me, after all we have had a love/hate relationship for years. This just added fuel to the fire. Then I started practicing gratitude. I found that I could be grateful for all of the things my body does FOR me. I can be grateful for what hasn't given out on me. When it comes time (twice a week) for my injections, I can be grateful for those curves! If I were a skinny-minnie, those injections would hurt a heck of a lot more! Now- am I completely satisfied with my body? Absolutely not. That said- my gratitude has brought me peace with it and though I still struggle with the need to change my body, it is not out of loathing but out of hopes to minimize the further damage to my joints. I can be grateful that my pain is at an acceptable level. I can hope to stay here and ward off future flares by being better about the way that I care for my body. I can be grateful that I have not been too sick or had too many infections (knock wood) and hope to keep it that way by being conscious of the vitamins and antioxidants in my food choices. When I started my methotrexate I was terrified of losing my hair- to the point that I cut it all off; dumb move in retrospect but the sight of long hairs in the drain sent me into a downward spiral. Now, a year later I can be grateful that not only have I not lost my hair (thank you folic acid!) but the fact that it is growing more slowly also means that the rest of my hair is doing the same which means shaving less often and who wouldn't love that? I have discovered that, probably courtesy of my cocktail of drugs, my hair no longer holds artificial color. In the past year I have tried and tried to color my hair darker and cover my grays. Realizing that even "permanent" color won't take any longer has led me to realize that my dark blonde hair has natural highlights and that my half a dozen gray hairs are hard earned in my forty two years. I can now look in the mirror and see the beauty in my natural color and leave it alone to do it's own thing. I have accepted my wrinkles and laugh lines as evidence of the happiness I have enjoyed over the years and rather than fighting them I can wear them proudly being grateful for all of the worries and smiles that put them there.
Ms. Ban Breathnach is absolutely correct in that the more you find to be grateful for, the more you are given to be grateful about. She estimates two months but common wisdom says that it takes three weeks to create or break a habit. I have found that day by day we can change our outlook on every aspect of our lives just by giving thanks for what we have. It doesn't take being thankful for the big things, it is the little things that add up and make the biggest difference in our overall attitude. Slowing down, simplifying our lives and counting our blessings can be so rewarding on a physical, emotional and spiritual level. It opens our hearts and minds to the things that we may be missing if we continue to see the darker side of our lives.
Whether you think I have hit on something here- or have lost my ever loving mind, I challenge you to stop today, take as long as it takes, but look around you and look inside and find ten things you can be grateful for at this time. See if it doesn't change the way you feel about your life if only for a moment.