For many of us life was a series of problems
to be solved and getting through the day was a
thankless task. We were so caught up in our dysfunction: trying to fix others so they would meet our needs, anticipating what other people thought about us or trying to win accolades so we would get the approval we so desperately sought.
When someone asked us how we were, we answered fine, even though we weren't and didn't actually know how we felt. We were surviving our childhood upbringing and were not in the market for being grateful for anything.
However, through A Program Of Miracles we are learning to change our thinking and to find a new freedom from previous emotional burdens. As we slow down our racing thoughts and compulsive behavior, we start to see the gifts from the universe. We begin to notice what is being placed before us.
We start to recognize that when we ask for what we need, solutions appear. Before, when we were so needy we became greedy, we couldn't see that our Higher Power was sending us daily gifts. Now we begin to recognize through our inner tuition when our Higher Power is giving us what we need at that moment.
Where once we admitted we were powerless, we now have a new power to stop compulsive and destructive thinking. We seem to have a new strength to help us stand up tall and claim our seat in the world. Our focus is directed towards growing ourselves rather than firing at external targets. We have more energy to get involved in and contribute to our community.
We see people through different eyes and understand they have weaknesses as well as strengths. We don't take things personally when conflict comes our way and we don't react in the way we used to when things don't go our way. We stop trying to protect others and instead use that energy to focus on ourselves. Through our work, our strength is greater than we could ever have imagined.
Now we begin to count our blessings. Gratitude opens our hearts and to acknowledge what we do have which pulls us away from focusing on what we don’t have. By recognizing that ‘every moment is a given moment’, we can begin the new direction of ‘grateful living’. Any moment maybe our last moment; we have no way of knowing otherwise. To understand that the moment is a gift is to know that there is nothing we’ve done to earn it; it has simply been given to us. Once we breathe in harmony with God, we recognize that we are being given these gifts and every opportunity that we receive within this moment.
The art of grateful living is simply to know this. And by knowing this, moment-to-moment, we become alert to the gift within every moment and make the most of each gift and this is the key to happiness. Of course, we believe that not every moment has a gift within it, but it does. For example: a huge argument with someone offers us the opportunity to come into the present moment and not act out old behaviors, or losing a job holds the potential to turn towards our Higher Power for strength and guidance.
When we acknowledge those gifts we change our internal mind set by bringing a more graceful and positive energy into our lives. This helps us to bring an awareness of the tiny elements in each day that we previously took for granted. Studies show that bringing gratitude into our lives lowers stress levels and increases our well being, decreases anxiety and depression, but increases our long-term satisfaction with life. By intentionally acknowledging the good things in our lives each day we also push out some of the negative thinking that has clogged our minds for so long.
For one week write down 10 things that you are grateful for in the morning and then repeat in the evening.