Right up to my mid forties, I lived in an enchanted world of milk and honey. Sure, there were difficult times: there were stresses, there were arguments and there were even deaths (lots of) but life was always comprehensible because the people who co-existed with me in this blessed world all share a mutual intelligibility. Though from different nationalities, backgrounds and age groups, we all seemed to speak the language of love and kindness.
And then the good Lord decided that I should learn a bit about life in the outside world. I guess it is a bit like the prince Siddharta Gautama who left his sweet life within his palace gates in order to find self-realisation. Only that I did not voluntarily choose this path.
I found life in the outside world unkind. In the outside world, I gave my best, did my best, lived my best, but what I got back in equal measure was poison that corroded my soul. In November 2015, I sat in a Caribbean restaurant on Brixton Hill with my friends Anna and Vicky and found that, like me, they were experiencing the same. There we were, three mothers from modest but loving families, who had no big dreams other than to live meaningful lives and raise the next generation. Yet Fate dealt us with bad hand through the agents of fear and unkindness.
It seems that the Law of Karma has broken down because the natural order of things in this world where fear and unkindness live in people’s hearts and dictates their actions, thoughts and words. Fear often leads people to behave unkindly towards each other. The fear that is endemic is the needless fear of scarcity, be it not enough time or not enough money. In this poverty of the soul, people have lost their strength, their courage and their dignity.
Like fear and unkindness, gratitude and kindness go hand in hand.
I would like to focus on gratitude in this post. But how does one start practising gratitude?
When you wake up tomorrow morning, thank the three people in your life that you had the most interaction with. You don’t have to verbally thank them (that would be a bit weird) but just thank them sincerely in your heart. Believe it or not, you life will become more peaceful (and who knows, it might save your relationship).
I give you an example. I thank my 15 year old daughter (my accidental last child) for being in my life and for always inspiring me to be my best self. She motivates me to get out of bed, to fight back when Fate deals me a bad hand and to laugh loudly and fearlessly at all life’s challenges. So during the day when we have our skirmishes, I’ll think back to my silent words of thanks that I uttered in the morning. That close reminder of what she is to me makes me look at her with more charity and more softness.
Yes, if you practice gratitude daily, you might save a precious relationship by appreciating what you have more instead of taking it for granted. You might take care of the people in your life more. You might fell lucky to have all that you have instead of hankering for fantasy.
So, make a list of the three people whom you will thank tomorrow morning. It is truly life-changing.