Yesterday I was inspired to post the following expression of gratitude on my Facebook wall:
I am so grateful for my life: for every triumph,
for every crushing defeat, for every choice,
for every risk, for every life-altering decision,
for every raw, devastating heartbreak,
for every betrayal, for every lesson learned.
I am grateful for every moment,
for each one has made me who I am today,
living this incredible life, so full of gratitude.
As we have just celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States, we were all reminded to pause and give thanks for the blessings in our lives. But as someone who has come to understand, firsthand, the sheer power of gratitude, I have learned that the practice of gratitude is really meant to be a daily one, not one that we simply do just one day a year.
A few years back I found myself at the darkest depths of my soul, living through the most painful, most challenging years of my life. I was at rock bottom and I had become merely a shell of the vibrant person that I had once been. Through a stroke of Grace, a new friend stepped into my life and introduced me to the Law of Attraction, to the idea that our thoughts do have power and that with those thoughts we can attract both positive and negative into our lives; and that whether we realize it or not, we are doing so unconsciously, on a daily basis.
As the clouds above my head were growing ever darker and more ominous, I decided that I would try anything to turn my life around. So in order to shift my thoughts to the positive, I began a daily practice of gratitude. Every single day I would write down a list of all of the positive things that had happened in that day, and all of the things for which I was grateful, however small. It didn’t matter how miserable I felt or how little I wanted to drag myself out of bed, I forced myself to write the list.
I did this every day for months on end, and as I did so, I was shocked by what began to happen. Little by little, unexpected, positive things would appear in my life: the right people would show up, happy synchronicities would occur out of the blue, and slowly but surely the circumstances in my life began to change. The negative began to be replaced by the positive until after a few years of continued gratitude practice (complemented by a consistent yoga practice), I found myself living the most fully and vibrantly that I had ever lived in my life. This is where I sit now. I have become whole, I have fully embodied my spirit, and my inner light glows more purely and brightly than ever. I largely credit this to the practice of gratitude.
Unfortunately, it is a sad reality of the human condition that all to often we find ourselves feeling like victims: we blame others for the pain and betrayals inflicted upon us, we feel sorry for ourselves for the bad things that have happened to us, we find ourselves asking, “Why me?!” We say to ourselves, “If only “X,Y or Z” would happen, I could finally be happy.”
The problem is that every time we embody one of those feelings, we are giving away our own power. When we hold someone or some force outside of ourselves responsible for our happiness, we are giving that force power over us and we are ignoring the reality that we have the power to co-create happiness in our lives. The power resides in our thoughts and our feelings.
If we look back on our lives with anger, bitterness and regret, we are sending negative energy out into the Universe, and that is exactly what we will attract back: more negativity. And then we head into a downward spiral. So instead of begrudging our past, we must look back and embrace every aspect of our journey: the good, the bad, and the ugly. We must look for the lesson in every experience, and if we look really hard, we may even find a silver lining, something beautiful that came out of a dark experience.
We must embrace the light and the shadow sides of life. We must be thankful for our challenging and painful experiences, for teaching us invaluable lessons, for giving us strength, and for delivering us to new places where we were meant to travel. We must look back and delight in how the dots connected, realizing that so much of it was for a reason.
So, yes, when I look back at my own life, I am grateful for every triumph for giving me courage and showing me that of which I was capable.
I am grateful for every crushing defeat for giving me the motivation and the fire in my belly to get back into the ring and keep on fighting.
I am grateful for every choice, no matter where it led, for each choice has taught me that there are no mistakes, just detours; and that often those detours proved to be for a beautiful and important reason.
I am grateful for having the bravery to take risks, to walk boldly in the face of fear, and to forge my own path, regardless of society’s “rules.” It is these risks that have allowed my life to expand beyond all wonder.
I am grateful for every life-altering decision I have had the courage to make, for these decisions have afforded me rich, breathtaking, and priceless experiences, and have allowed beautiful souls, from all over the world, to cross my path.
I am grateful for every raw, devastating heartbreak: I am grateful for the first for revealing to me my profound capacity for love. I am grateful for the second for allowing me to feel true soul connection and subsequently for breaking me, because it was that experience that set me free for future love and growth. And I am most grateful to the third for showing me the highest vibration of light and love I have ever known, and for shattering that which was already broken… for it was this experience that led me into the powerful fires of transformation.
I am grateful for every betrayal, for each one made me a stronger, more resilient person, and allowed me to better understand my own values and inner truth.
And lastly, I am grateful for every lesson learned, no matter how excruciating, no matter how much the wind was knocked out of me, for each lesson has allowed my soul to evolve into the conscious and awakened being that I am today. I am grateful for every single moment, from the breathtaking, life-altering ones, to the seemingly unimportant ones, for I understand that every moment is a precious step along the soul’s journey.
For all that has come before, for all that is now, and for all that will come, however unknown, I am and will always be grateful.