The gift of gratitude in a world spinning out of control

These are not nice times that we are living in; it seems almost daily our senses and souls are confronted with a never-ending stream of misery. Some say that things are not really bad, it’s just that technology and media cycles have increased our capacity to hear about the misery that is projected onto our fellow beings 24/7. I agree there is some truth in that but the constant stream of negatives seeps into our souls and has us living for the future and what we are hoping for or looking back in the past for what we had. I can’t speak for anyone else but for me such living is not life. It keeps me in a state where I ignore my present and considering that yesterday is gone and tomorrow isn’t promised all I have is this moment. This moment to grasp with arms wide and my heart ready to receive and enjoy.

Last night as I tweeted with others about the Trayvon Martin case and was reminded of just how fucked up our culture is when it comes to men of color, I felt myself tensing up and getting angry. Of course this is a situation where that anger is justified, after all a young man’s life was cut short all because a man felt he was entitled to play the role of judge and dole out punishment for perceived crimes (walking while Black). As the outcry and demand for justice for Trayvon continues, we are also hearing the shared stories of all parents raising black and brown boys and the state of anxiety that we live in constantly. Oh, it may not be a debilitating anxiety but for anyone that has ever raised or loved a man of color, there is a certain sense that tomorrow may never be.  Just last night I was reminded of that as I read a news report out of my hometown, over this past weekend 10 people lost their lives including a 6 year old girl and 40 were wounded. For 10 people tomorrow did not come.

In the past year, I have been striving to be present and lessen my anxiety and while I can’t change the world single-handedly I can change how I perceive it by the very act of being present in each moment and receiving the good with the bad. Last night as I did my evening meditation and gratitude, I was struck by for all the shitty things that happen, for most of us there is something good even in the darkest moments.

Since the beginning of the year, I have completed a daily gratitude journal, at night before I go to bed, I write down 5 things that I am grateful for. I admit when I started this process I had a hard time with this concept, often repeating the same things, family, roof over my head, etc…you get the picture. Recently though I have seen a shift in my daily gratitude, sometimes giving thanks for things it’s so easy to take for granted yet add to our quality of life. After all, hot water to shower with is a given but wake up one cold morning in need of a shower and find out there is no hot water.

I share this today because so many of us our grappling with life and big issues and frankly it is easy to not see the good in a world gone mad. Yet a practice of daily gratitude is one way to keep us grounded to our truth and see a hint of sun when the overcast clouds seems like they will never go away. So with the arrival of spring and new beginnings, I encourage you to take on 10 minutes of gratitude before you head to sleep. It will change your life!

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