A few weeks ago, at our Living the Five Agreements group we were talking about gratitude from a Toltec Perspective. We read a paragraph from Sheri Rosenthal’s book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Toltec Wisdom. One of the points she made was that from a Toltec perspective Warriors do not see experiences as good or bad, but instead as learning experiences. Her writing reminded me of a piece of wisdom my Bubby shared with me that I was to seek the blessing in all situations and circumstances. There is a lesson in every moment of life she would tell me. See the lesson. Who knew that my Bubby, who had never heard of Toltec wisdom, knew that this is what she was teaching me.
“Gratitude is a reflection of how much peace and resolution you’ve made in your life” said Rosenthal. What we hold on to from the past, the hurt, the pain, the anger, the resentments keep us from seeing all with absolute love and acceptance for life. This reminded me of what Thich Nhat Hanh said when he wrote “I forgive you, I forgive myself. I set us both free.” It is this freedom from the pain that allows us to see all that has happened and is happening through a lens of love. So for example, I no longer stay angry at my mother for something she coerced me into doing when I was in my 20’s. I was for a while, but now I can look at it from a lens of love and give thanks because that experience helped me to become stronger, wiser, and more compassionate today then I was then. In all situations, I can choose to hold on to resentment or I can choose gratitude.
Today, I am following the path of a warrior and fighting for my gratitude through the choices I make. You are invited to join me. When you find yourself getting upset about something that is happening, stop and breathe. Make a conscious decision to see the situation differently and look for the gift. Sometimes it helps to step away from the situation and do something that brings us enjoyment. When we find ourselves wanting to judge someone, stop and breathe and think about what good might come out of what is happening, even if one has to use their imagination. Some situations may require more than others, but it is about learning how to make those conscious choices about how we respond and pulling on our strength to control how we see the world and a situation.
In each of these situations, give thanks. So as we gather with family and loved ones this holiday season, may we remember to give thanks, stop and breathe when we need to, draw on our imagination and seek out something we can do to infuse joy in the situation. Gratitude is not just about giving thanks, but about practicing it in our daily choices and view of the world.