I keep a gratitude journal. Every night, before I close my eyes, I acknowledge the moments, and gifts that enriched my life throughout the day. The idea being, that our awareness of what enriches our life is heightened by the commitment to focus on it everyday. Often my perspective shifts as I begin to reflect on what made my day richer: the riot of colour from the garden on the corner that explodes as the sun rises, the shade of grandmotherly maple trees as I run through the oppressive heat, picking sun ripened tomatoes from the garden, the inspiring intellect of individuals committed to problem solving…..finding a twoonie that enables me to buy that second doppio long espresso.
Recently, however, I had an encounter that triggered a deep and meaningful expansion of my understanding of gratitude. A window of lithe, beautifully dressed mannequins lured me into an unfamiliar store (which is saying a lot because I am really not a shopper in any sense!). Lamenting the fact that the dress might reveal a few too many bumps and lumps, the storeowner reassured me that I looked beautiful in the dress, and then graciously added, “ My mother blessed me with huge hips, and I wear that dress proudly.”
I bought the dress, and ever since I’ve been thinking about what it means to be blessed. Imagine, as a woman, feeling blessed with big hips. Blessed means: to bestow good of any kind, glorify, divine favour. Which is to say that this woman recognized her body, whatever the shape and size, as a glorious, divine, gift – and she appreciated it, celebrated it, in fact. Now, this is not a lesson in female body image and self-acceptance (although it never hurts), it is more of an insight into what it might mean to consider, each day, how we have been blessed.
Where gratitude means thankfulness, and it is good to be thankful, blessed implies a gift that we have been given undeservedly, just because we are glorious images of the Divine. All that is required is a tiny shift in consciousness from, I was cursed with big hips, to, I was blessed with big hips. The choice is ours. While I believe that recognizing how we have been blessed each day inspires gratitude, the gratitude is an outcome of the awareness that we do nothing to merit such gifts. It’s a matter of choice and perspective. A lot like deliberate acts of kindness.
In essence what I am suggesting is a reflective practice, in practical terms, of advice we have all heard countless times in our lives: ‘Count your blessings’. I imagine, as I think about it, that it was always meant to be a daily practice, to cultivate gratitude and awareness and compassion. It’s a simple shift, but an important one. I think from now on I’ll keep a Blessed Journal and nurture gratitude from the inside out.
I recently was blessed with some amazing experiences in Scotland, a country of extreme beauty and hospitality!