There is a lot circulating in the world about gratitude. It’s hard to sift through all of it and not come out feeling like you need a litany of tasks and practices in order to stay grounded and full of gratitude. For me I like to keep things simple.
At the beginning of my spiritual journey, I was dissatisfied with almost everything in my life. I couldn’t be happy, if happy ran me over on the road! Forget even being grateful, which proceeds happiness.
I would find myself envious of others ability to be grateful in the midst of their messy human life. How did they do it? I often asked myself. I was in true awe of people who maintained authentic positivity in face of adversity, challenges, job loss, financial stress, health crises, grief and loss. They weren’t giving lip service to their gratitude despite the everyday ups and downs life was presenting them with. They were truly grateful, even when things went sideways. Without ever asking anyone I met with these qualities (which would have been the fastest, most sensible thing to do–but I live to do things the hard way) I continued on, drawing my own conclusions and assumptions about how they did this.
It was not until my spiritual expedition various religions and philosophies that I found Buddhism and I came across the answer for my eternal dissatisfaction. It was this tiny, powerful thing called contentment. In finding contentment, I found its twin: gratitude.
Contentment is defined as the quality or state of being contented. Content is defined as being satisfied.
Contentment was the missing intangible characteristic I couldn’t put my finger on that I seemed to find in all the people I encountered who possessed authentic positivity and true gratitude. They weren’t grasping at life. They were soaking in what is. They were just being. In flow. Allowing life to unfold, with trying to modify a single thing. Contentment taught me how to be here in this moment and really appreciate everything I had and didn’t have. You see, my dissatisfaction with life was causing me suffering because I wanted things to be different, better, or people to be different or to change my past and make different decisions. I was struggling to accept and meet life where I was.
Learning that contentment is the basis for being deeply and divinely grounded showed me that everything I encountered was a gift and that was life changing.
Contentment is not an emotion (which was lifesaving to find out). It cannot fluctuate or disappear. Contentment is always within us and we can always return to it. In returning to the of source of our internal contentment we can become full of gratitude for what is. We always have more than we think we do, I would also find out in embodying the practice of contentment. We can even cultivate a heart of genenersity from these twin flames of contentment and gratitude as a byproduct.
If you want to create more gratitude in your life, start by bringing your focus and awareness around your own internal contentment. If you find yourself wanting your circumstances to be different or better or you’re steeped in comparisons to others. Gently stop yourself and list out a few things about your current situation that is good. Do this over and over again, if you feel yourself wanting more or being unable to practice authentic gratitude.
Check in regularly with yourself to see how this practice can shift your mind and your emotions.
When you feel grounded in your own contentment, gratitude grows tenfold. It’s like being blind for most of your life and then finding your sight. Suddenly you see the world for the first time. You remember how amazing it is that you have clean water every day. That you have a roof over your head. You haven’t had to go without a meal. You get to shower every day. You can drive yourself to work. You are healthy. You have air in your lungs. You get to rest every night in a warm bed. You have family members and friends who think you are the greatest thing on Earth. You are loved and you get to love, every single day.
Let us know how you are cultivating your inner contentment and gratitude by joining us in The Garden or drop a comment below.