Gratefulness as a daily practice

As we have just celebrated Thanksgiving in the US, I thought it appropriate to write about gratitude today.

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We have all heard the common expression: Is the glass half empty or half full? which is used rhetorically for any given situation. Our answer to this question reflects our outlook on life, we either see what we have (the half-full glass) or what we lack (the half-empty glass), and… we always have the choice.

Every day is an opportunity to see “the glass” half empty or half full. Every day and in every situation we get to decide what we want to focus on. By focusing on what we have as opposed to what we lack, we are practicing gratefulness, it is as simple as that!

By opening our eyes to the things we do have, even in times of crisis, we are hanging onto what is good in our life, and that will help us see through the hard times more effectively and find the resources we need to solve problems and overcome difficulties more easily. This does not mean being in denial, not at all! we can be aware of the struggles, we can honor our emotions, we may need an outlet for tears and grief, and all that is normal and is totally OK; but we can still practice gratefulness in the midst of it all, by acknowledging the good things that we have (however few they may be).

Making gratefulness into a daily practice is very important, and we can do so by establishing a daily ritual so in time it will become second nature. A good time to do this is every morning when you wake up or every night before bed, it only takes a few minutes at most!

You can simply acknowledge all the good things you have (or have experienced), or if you prefer you can give thanks to God, the Universe, etc. I usually write a list of things I am grateful for or simply say them our loud.

Some days it may be harder to find things to be grateful for, when everything seems dark and hopeless (we all have those days), but there is always something! For instance: I may give thanks for my eyes, that allow me to see, for the big smiles my kids greet me with, for my parents’ unconditional support, etc. We can ALWAYS find something, always!

We can also be thankful for the small things that happen in our days, for instance: spending a couple hours with a good friend, or sharing a good meal with a loved one, or the smile we got from a stranger… every day gives us an opportunity to find something good, but we need to be aware of it! People often take those things for granted, and focus only on what they lack or what is not working in their lives, so they diminish importance to the, sometimes small, gifts that are around them all the time. They don’t even see them!

Once you become aware of the importance of simple gestures and actions, you also become more willing to offer them to others. When I realize that a smile can make me grateful, I chose to smile more, because that might make other people feel grateful, so gratefulness is also a way to expand your own heart and to give off good vibes around you. Gratefulness is a beautiful thing! Its effect in our life is much greater than we can imagine.

According to the law of attraction, we attract what we focus on, so if we focus on the good things, we will attract more good things, and if we focus on what we lack we will attract more lack… the law really works. If we think of it, it makes total sense, we are made up of energy, so the energy waves that we emit are like magnets that attract the same type of energy, if we vibrate at the frequency of abundance (focusing on what we have) we will see more abundance in our lives, and vice-versa.

Being grateful is very important especially in times of crisis, as it helps us remember that there is always something that is good, something that is working in our lives. This will help us navigate the difficult times much better by keeping us connected to the good things, so we don’t sink into total despair or hopeless mode.

As long as this practice is part of your daily life, you can tap into it whenever you need some comfort and relief.

I would like to share an excerpt I found in the Magazine Psychology Today.

The Benefits of Gratitude

Gratitude is an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has—as opposed to, say, a consumer-oriented emphasis on what one wants or needs—and is currently receiving a great deal of attention as a facet of positive psychology. Gratitude is what gets poured into the glass to make it half full. Studies show that gratitude not only can be deliberately cultivated but can increase levels of well-being and happiness among those who do cultivate it. In addition, grateful thinking—and especially expression of it to others—is associated with increased levels of energy, optimism, and empathy.

So I encourage you today to start a daily practice of gratefulness, it doesn’t take more than a few minutes and you will see how it magically brings more and more blessings into your life. You don’t need to wait till next Thanksgiving!!

Here is a video that may inspire you to be grateful every day!

Have a good week!

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The Truth is Within Us

I have always been deeply interested and curious about the striking similarities we can find in the teachings of great Spiritual Teachers like Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, and others. These great Spiritual Teachers have embodied proof of the undeniable existence of God (the Divine, the Cosmic Universe, Consciousness, the Creator, etc. )

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However, the Spiritual Teachers did not personally start any religion, they simply shared their teachings and hoped that they would spread, so in time, their followers gathered in their name and established institutionalized religions based on their Masters’ teachings. Most institutionalized religions are based on ancient scriptures that are believed to represent the original teachings of the great Masters.

The problem that often arises when following scriptures is the conflicting interpretations of words. Although words and languages are one of our most trusted ways to communicate knowledge, words are limited and can be interpreted differently by different people in different stages of human history and evolution.

Therefore, it is hard to own the truth behind the words, especially if the words are being interpreted solely with our intellect, and in most cases people don’t even seek to interpret the words, they just take the interpretations of those who came before them and make them their own; which is what happens in most religions.

The reason why we can’t rely on our intellect or that of our ancestors is because the truth of God can not really be explained or measured, it can only be experienced. Our reasoning can not possibly grasp the immensity of the Divine, so it is literally impossible to convey it with words.

Another problem with religions is that in most cases they worship their Spiritual Leader and by doing so they often forget about the essence of their message. True Spiritual leaders are not seeking to be worshiped, they are trying to convey a message, the message of their experience of God. I once heard a metaphor that said that Spiritual Teachers are like a teapot containing a delicious magical tea, but religions are focused on worshiping the teapot instead of drinking the tea!

The experience of God or rather the experience of Truth (the truth of our existence) is open to every single human being, regardless of their religion or lack of, their level of education, their culture, their color, etc. there are no conditions to the experience of God, it is accessible to every single one of us. This is because the experience is unique to each of us and the truth is within everyone of us.

Although we can certainly use the wise teachings offered by religions, we need to seek the truth inside ourselves, if we don’t do this, the truth will never be revealed to us. The experience of God (or truth), is the inner knowing that lies dormant within every human being. This is something most great Spiritual Leaders have said, in different ways:

Jesus: “The kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21)

Prophet Muhammad: “There is no intermediary between God and man. By remembering God, a person establishes direct contact with Him.”

“The secret of Buddhism is to remove all ideas, all concepts, in order for the truth to have a chance to reveal itself.” Thích Nhất Hạnh

The story of Brahma in Hinduism: “Brahma seated himself on the floating Lotus and looked in all directions for any other beings. Not seeing anyone around but feeling a desire for knowledge, he meditated, seeking knowledge within himself. There he found Truth, God himself, in his own heart, and looking around he now saw God everywhere.”

It is by removing the obstacles to our understanding that the truth will reveal itself from within. The problem is that our material existence brings a lot of obstacles to our understanding of the truth. Our judgments and resistance of our surroundings are major obstacles to our connection with our inner wisdom.

It is not easy to let go of these obstacles (distractions) as long as we are in a human body, but if we see our body as the temple that holds our spirit, our soul, our essence and our truth, we can begin to connect with it, even through our body itself. If we let go of our mind reasoning and logic, and our sense-based perceptions and judgments we can begin to connect to our inner knowing, we can allow it to come out, and we can start to feel the truth, to experience it.

The teachings of religions, as much as our everyday life experiences and relationships can be great teachers, because God (Truth) is revealing itself to us everyday and through everything, but it is only until we “take our blinders off” (remove the obstacles) that we can finally see the truth or rather feel it.

I encourage you to find ways in which to quiet your mind and let go of judgments, in order to find that silence within that will help you reveal the inner wisdom that lies beneath you.

Have a good week!

Related Articles and links:

The Opportunity is Here

Faith, Religion and Spirituality

If you are interested in exploring the similarities amongst religions I recommend you look at The Harmony Project Website.


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