Thursday, March 28, 2013

Gratitude Within Reach


No man is an island. ~John Donne

I was feeling irritable this morning. No particular reason. Just out of sorts. “Gritchy.” My spirit felt heavy. I read some inspirational stuff, but nothing was really shaking loose the dark cloud weighing down my shoulders. So I looked around.

I decided to be grateful for whatever I could touch within arm’s reach without moving from where I sat. If I were to do it right now, this would be my list: my computer, the table, the chair, a cup of hot tea, the coaster the cup is sitting on, my calendar, a pad of sticky notes, a lot of sticky notes with ideas written on them stuck on the computer and the table, a pen and pencil, a letter opener, my clothes, my glasses, some books, my body.

Then I decided to take one of these items and extend the gratitude. Let’s take the coaster, for example. I’m grateful for the coaster, for the people who work in the store where I bought the set it came from, for the people who designed it, for the cotton it is made of, for the people who grew and processed the cotton, for the people who manufactured the coaster, for the people who transported it and the vehicles they used, for the money I had to buy it,...

You can see that this could go on indefinitely. I could have expanded my gratitude just in the category of the cotton, for example, by thinking about the farmers, the equipment, the fertilizer, the water, and so on.

Whew!

By the end of this little exercise, I was astounded by how many people and things were connected to just the few items that are within arm’s reach. No kidding that no man is an island. It is humbling to consider how many hands have touched most anything I can look at around me, how many people have contributed to my comfort and well being.

The dark cloud lifted. I felt calmer and quiet inside. I just sat there breathing in the energy of all those hands, breathing out my gratitude.

Want to give it a try? It just takes a minute. If you like, please share your gratitude within reach experience in a comment.

In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy. ~David Steinal-Rast

related posts: I’m Grateful for That!; An Ordinary Day

58 comments:

  1. Beautiful idea... I hate it when I wake with that snarly feeling, as if I have thorns. It only takes a moment to find your center as you have said.

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    1. brenda, Having thorns--that's a great description. Thanks for commenting.

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  2. Lovely exercise Galen!

    I tried it out and as I am sitting on my Laptop and have my books and table around, I did as you said and started the extended gratitude exercise...gosh! the list was never ending...I could just go on and on as to who made those books, table, chairs, and the hard labor they put into it.

    Thanks for making us realize this important point. :) BTW - Happy Easter in advance too. :)

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    1. Harleena, I'm glad you tried it. As you note, it can go on indefinitely. How amazing to think that there is no end to the things we can be grateful for. Happy Easter to you, too, and thanks for commenting.

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    1. But you are cranky AND laughing! Thanks for commenting.

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  4. I embrace this exercise often, and have incorporated it into my blogging. Gratitude Moments are what I call them, and I never know what will flow from my fingers on the keyboard when I sit down to think of gratitude. It's one of those streams of consciousness that, once started, just flow effortlessly. I notice that I always smile as I write the gratitude thoughts, and I love how it lifts my personal vibration. :)

    Namaste',

    Dawn

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    1. Dawn, How nice that this is an exercise you are already familiar with. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about it.

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  5. Well, I have three beautiful fantail goldfish that gives me much enjoyment. I showed my gratitude by giving the tank a major cleaning! Hope that counts!!
    Barb

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    1. Barb, It all counts! And now your goldfish are grateful, too. Thanks for commenting.

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  6. Much better than kicking the cat or snarling at my co-workers. I've never thought of being grateful for my coaster before, but why not? And for the trees that grew the strong fibers that became the wood of my desk, and for the pens that leave smooth, beautiful trails of ink, and... Could go on all day!

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    1. Beverly, Welcome! Like you, I can't say that I've felt much appreciation for this humble little table protector in the past. Coasters are more often noticed when they are absent and you are left with a permanent ring on your table! As you said, though, once you get started, you can go on indefinitely. Thanks for commenting.

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  7. Cultivating a gratitude attitude does give us such peace and joy. I have discovered that the more consciously thankful I am, the happier I am.
    Great thoughts shared here, Galen!
    Blessings!

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    1. Martha, Indeed, an attitude of gratitude goes hand in hand with joy. Thanks for your comment.

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  8. What a beautiful way to practice gratitude! Just looking around now, I see my laptop (that I'm typing on), my hands that are able to type, my chair that is holding me up--oh, yeah, I could go on and on! I'm finding more and more that gratitude is important, so I'm glad to have this exercise to turn to. Thank you!

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    1. Tina, I'm glad you enjoyed this little exercise. Thanks for your comment.

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  9. Good insight Galen. It's a little disconcerting to realize that it takes a village to make a coaster though :)

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    1. Cairn, No kidding. I think it might take a small city to make a coaster! Thanks for your comment.

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  10. Never thought of this, but it's really nice. I happen to be in the kitchen, and so right now I'm esp. grateful for B and the sticky roll she brought me on the way home from work, which I will eat tomorrow morning for breakfast. Aah, sweet dreams!

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    1. Tom, It's easy to be grateful for sweet treats, and for the people who bring them to us! Thanks for your comment.

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  11. beautiful!! I have never met a happy person who was not a grateful person.

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    1. Annmarie, That is very true. They go together. Thanks for commenting.

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  12. Galen, this is a beautiful post.

    I have slowly (but surely) come to the belief that gratitude opens the door to life. We all face so many situations and experiences each and everyday - it's so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and completely forget the joy in all of it.

    For me, I have found taking the time in the middle of my day to go on a walk has made a massive difference. I tend to be very goal oriented and am always in danger of turning into a robot, so by setting time aside to just appreciate life it reconnects me.

    I love this post because it shows me another way to reconnect with life. Awesome!

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    1. Izmail, That is a great idea. In fact, my daughter is coming over right now and we are going to take a walk. Thanks for the idea, and for your comment.

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  13. Loved this! There is a famous essay written by an economist called I,Pencil. It is a fascinating look into the genealogy of a simple wood pencil, told by the pencil. You can read it here: http://www.econlib.org/library/Essays/rdPncl1.html

    The story the pencil tells is very similar to what you did with the coaster. Check it out. I think you'll appreciate it.

    Again, loved the post, Galen. I'm convinced that gratitude is the single most important characteristic to enduring happiness. Thanks for sharing your funky mood that gratitude turned into a sublime experience with us!

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    1. Ken, I agree. If you have to pick just one practice, gratitude would be my top choice. And I will check out the pencil essay. Thanks for sharing the link, and for your comment.

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  14. Hi Galen,

    What a sweet idea - I love it!

    Here's another one, even closer to where you are (without moving :-)):

    Say thank you to yourself. Thank yourself for feeling whatever you feel right now, seeing whatever you see right now, for experiencing whatever you experience in this moment. Thank yourself because it is not easy and yet you are doing it, you are feeling and sensing and experiencing it all. Your presence in a challenging moment deserves all the appreciation in the world!

    Warmly

    Halina

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    1. Halina, Great point--we need to remember to be grateful to and for ourselves. We often forget that. I love the way you expressed it. Thank you for commenting.

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  15. I love your word, gritchy, Galen! It does so describe that feeling! Right now I only have to look outside my window to feel grateful. The ducks are back in the pond, the sun is shining and that snow IS melting whether it wants to or not. I'll work on extending it because it runs counter to the heavy feelings I'm feeling of the first Easter without Alex.
    Lori

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    1. Lori, I can't remember when I came up with that word. It is a combination of grumpy and _itchy, if you catch my drift! I am so sorry that you are having to go through a year of sad "firsts." Blessings to you and thanks for your comment.

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  16. I've been practicing radical gratitude, exactly along these lines and the thing is--its totally and amazingly energizing. It's amazing how much we have to be grateful for!

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    1. Charlotte, It is amazing, isn't it?! An infinite list, in fact. How wonderful that you have been practicing this radically! Thanks for commenting.

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  17. What a great idea, Galen! I had eggs yesterday, and I found myself grateful for the chickens and also asking for blessings for them. That is somewhat similar, and I could now carry it further, since reading this cool post!

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    1. jean, True, there are a lot of steps to be grateful for between those chickens and your eating eggs. Glad you like the post. Thanks for your comment.

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  18. What a beautiful exercise to embrace and practice daily -- not only when one wakes up feeling cranky, but every day. Thanks for the lovely inspiration!

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    1. Kathleen, Good point. If I practiced this more often, especially upon waking, maybe I wouldn't get so cranky in the first place! Thanks for your comment.

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  19. Gratitude is certainly a pratice - just like YOGA.....There is no JOY without Gratitude as you and I have experienced.

    In love and joy,
    Nancy

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    1. Nancy, It can become our basic attitude towards life, can't it? What a joyous way to live. Thanks for your comment.

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  20. I woke up crying this morning, because I am on a new medication which has some awful side effects - and is working for me - and because once again I do not get to have an out of house experience and go on an adventure. It just felt like too many times I have been left out in my lifetime.
    So your post popped up and I started right in...it was a wonderful walk and not raining, I do share my days with the happiest of pups anywhere around. I get to go have a Mammogram today and Qigong and a National Geographic Lecture tonight...Now the sun is breaking through I saw the sun rise between the mountain tops and a gap in the clouds...
    Twinges of sad, but feeling so much better... As my mother always said - "this is your cross to bare/bear" (This is how I heard it as a child!)

    hmmm..... appropriate?

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    1. Patricia, Thanks for sharing what is going on with you today. Sometimes medication can help us, but with a price. And sometimes we just wake up sad (or cranky) anyway. Thanks for your comment.

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  21. It is a great practice. We used to play it as a game as I grew up. :-) I love how the chain gets longer and longer as we grow up - thanks to technology.

    Thank you - sweet reminder.

    Happy Easter!

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    1. Vidya, What a great idea to play this as a game with your children. I love it! Thanks for your comment.

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  22. Wow, that is an awesome challenge. What creative thoughts you have on this one. We do tend to take everything for granted and don't think through the detail of what it took to make it and then have gratitude for it.
    I am grateful for my computer and screen. I can't even fathom what it has taken to make the computer. It's way to technical for me. Technology is so incredible. I haven't gone deep on this one. It has made me stop and think about what miracles there are with in my arm's reach. Blessings!

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    1. LeAnn, You and I are so much alike. I know so little about my computer, that it would be hard to know who all to thank. I suppose I could thank the folks who are smart enough to design a computer. I can see that it has plastic in it, so I can thank all the folks involved in that part. The computer was transported from somewhere to somewhere else, it came in a box that was made by folks somewhere. Hmm, I guess I can still come up with a few but you are right that it is a challenge with technology! Thanks for commenting.

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  23. I too have found gratitude to be the ultimate mood-lifter, Galen. Thank you for the reminder.

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    1. Corinne, It's easy when we can remember to do it! Thanks for commenting.

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  24. Great exercise, Galen! I wrote about something similar in my blog recently, in which I thank things out loud as I'm using them. It's a similar form of mindfulness, and it really does work! I'm glad you're feeling better now anyway, however you managed to get there. I wouldn't expect you to be down for long! :)

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    1. Jennifer, Another great gratitude exercise--thanks for sharing that one! And for your comment.

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  25. This is a beautiful practice that anyone can do anywhere. you make it so easy for people!

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    1. Jodi, I agree. I like techniques that we can use as we move through our every day lives. Many of us don't have the time or resources to take an extra hour of our day, or an extra day out of our week to go somewhere and practice something that we can't do as we move through our normal lives. Thanks for your comment.

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  26. Ms. Galen: I can't imagine you “Gritchy.” I am grateful for knowing you.

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    1. JJ, You don't know me as well as you think you do! So glad that so far, at least, I have presented my best side. I'm grateful for knowing you, too. Thanks for commenting.

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  27. What a wonderful exercise. I will try this later today when everything settles down. Wishing you a Happy Easter.

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    1. Bonnie, I think you'll have fun with it. Thanks for commenting.

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  28. I try to do a gratitude exercise everyday but forget sometimes. And then go about my day thinking I've forgotten something important. Once we realize all the blessings in our lives, Galen, we can't be filled with sadness or lack - only contentment and happiness. I've done the exercise where I take into account the good things in my life but have not (yet) looked at anything around me, household objects, etc and been grateful for them! Which we really should be because the items and the people who make them bring a whole lot of convenience and happiness into our lives.

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    1. Vishnu, There are so many ways to be grateful. We can be grateful for that, too! You are right that when we focus on our blessings, we shift away from sadness and lack. Thanks for commenting.

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  29. Love this exerise Galen. What a wonderful idea. being grateful just adds a wonderful spirit to life.

    When I go to the store and need to buy something and the cashier says, 'thank you' I always say ' thank you, because if you were not here I would not be able to purchase what I am in need of.'

    I shall go try your exercise now and you sweet lady have a wonderful week
    Debbie

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    1. Debbie, That is a wonderful practice. I try to be appreciative, too, to the people who help me. If someone is especially nice, I make a point to find a supervisor and leave a compliment. Thanks for your comment.

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