The Problem With Gratitude
We hear from many sources that gratitude brings huge benefits to our mental health. In the Backpack programs and courses, we encourage participants to examine those things for which they are grateful. However, there is a difference between sincerely felt gratitude and what can amount to a quick, surface exercise that cannot be experienced below the surface. Should we feel guilty because we cannot FEEL our gratitude? No. That’s not it. But let’s try to slow things down so that we can feel gratitude more deeply.
Slow Motion Gratitude.
We open our eyes in the morning. Are we in a safe place? Do we feel physically secure from threat? Perhaps we spend our first minutes feeling grateful for the amazingness of sleeping in safety. How grateful we can be to anyone or anything that contributes to our freedom to sleep without fear. This is very big indeed and we could spend the whole day marvelling that we are among those people who sleep without fear for our safety. All by itself, this is a good thing, a wonderful thing. We are blessed to have a safe space in which to rest. We express our gratitude deeply and earnestly.
The next thing might be to ask questions about our comfort. Are we warm? Sheltered from too much heat or too much cold? Do we have clean air to breathe? Clothes? The expectation of breakfast and perhaps lunch and dinner? Can we wash ourselves with running water and soap? Even shampoo? There is nothing nicer than feeling washed and putting on clean clothes. Truly, our human dignity is so much easier to accept when we can be clean and wear laundered clothes. If today we have those things? We are blessed. Let us feel that blessing and give thanks for it.
In each day, we have so many things to feel grateful for but we can miss most or all of them if we move too quickly. Each life is a series of moments. We do not want to go numb by moving so quickly that we no longer think or feel. We recently posted about the importance of finding silence in the day. When we chase and capture silence, and allow it to hold space, everything tends to slow down. That silent space creates conditions where we can feel our feelings and allow our being to relax into the gratitude that heals us. Yes, the benefits of gratitude drop down in the spaces and places we create when we still noise and stimulation.
Today, let’s choose one or two or three things to rejoice in with gratitude. All day long, let us be thoughtfully grateful for these things. We draw this gratitude into every hour today, through all of our moments. We take a ring and put it on another finger or wrap a string around our wrist to remember, to marvel, to reflect on how blessed we are for these one or two or three elements that provide welcome background to our moments in time now. This is Slow Motion Gratitude. In it, our moments become full of meaning, rather than empty of it.
Living life at speed can be addicting, all by itself. Our moments should not be tossed back casually over our shoulders, like so many used up water bottles. Our moments, informed by silence and decorated with gratitude, become sacred to us, and full of meaning. It is this disposition of quiet dignity that The Backpack courses aim to bring about for us all.