Gratitude Is Good
No matter who you are or what troubles you find yourself with, it’s always good to count your blessings. Here’s a quick run-down the things my backyard friends make me grateful for.
- Their connectedness Every time I watch siblings of any kind play and fight with each other I can’t help thinking about how much we miss that as humans. Sure, we fuss and fight but how often do we check each other for bugs? I know it sounds ridiculous but when was the last time you were that focused on your brother or sister while with them? Reminds me of how precious the time we spend with them is and how much more engaged we could be with them.
- The comedy of their play There is nothing that makes me laugh harder then watching two of my squirrels chase each other up and down a tree. Or, how about seeing them hop in the air to avoid a bug? They give me the chance to step outside of my life briefly and feel the shear glee of playing without a goal or care. This is worth far more than whatever I may spend to feed them.
- Their maternal or paternal instincts We humans can only hope to mimic their selflessness when it comes to our children. If there were ever an unconditional love testbed it would be my backyard. They do everything they can to guide their young towards a productive and (hopefully) long life. They don’t care what school they attend, how much money they make or who they hang out with. They love them no matter what.
- Their gift of song At any time during my busy day I can stop and listen. I’m never disappointed but I’m always surprised. Surprised at the numerous vocalizations going on in my backyard. No matter what may be troubling me they have a way to bring me back to the here and now. They help me see just how unimportant those troubles or cares can be.
- How lucky I am It’s impossible to take stock of my life without thinking how lucky I am to be right where I am. Most humans spend untold hours thinking about where they want to be and not where they are. I struggle with this very demon. The very nature of goals seems to be at odds with being happy where you are at any point in time. It’s only when we realize that we don’t need to be miserable with our current lives to work for something more. Remembering to savor the journey is the key here.
If what I’ve been talking about here sounds a little bit too new-age for you, I would encourage you to take a look at the resources below. I’m a big believer in mindfulness and taking time each day to meditate and just be in your skin right here and now.
Let me know if I can answer any questions about anything you may encounter on your journey.
Tara Brach is a buddhist teacher and lecturer. Her site has an incredible wealth of free resources (donations are appreciated) for learning more about mindfulness practice.
Jon Kabat-Zinn is a physician and mindfulness researcher and teacher. He came from the world of traditional medicine but realized there was way more to healing than drugs or surgery.