From early on in my professional career, and probably my whole life, I've been thankful that I'm thankful. Because I'm an aikidoist who teaches conflict skills, and because aikido teaches that the attack can be a gift when we embrace the energy, my ability to notice what's good has grown.
My first book, Unlikely Teachers: Finding the Hidden Gifts in Daily Conflict consists of 28 stories dedicated to this theme. And my blog is filled with posts about gratitude as a path to center, and the people in my life who have shown me how to be thankful, even when there seems to be nothing to be thankful for.
And there are days, of course, when I forget to practice. I don't start the day with gratitude and I don't say "Thank you very much," when someone gets in my way. And that day isn't usually as easy or as fun. I notice what's hard and what's not good in my life, instead of what is.
But because I do practice most days, I usually find my way back. And sometimes I get reminded.
I was reminded recently by a movie. A few days ago I started reading Forever Young, a memoir by Hayley Mills (you know--Walt Disney--The Parent Trap?), and so I'm watching some of her movies now.
Besides The Parent Trap, Ms. Mills made other movies with Walt Disney, including Pollyanna.
The young Pollyanna is an orphaned 12-year-old girl who brings joy into the lives of everyone she meets by playing the "Glad Game"--which means looking for something to be glad about when she's sad.
She doesn't bring joy at first. Mostly the townsfolk cast a cynical eye on Pollyanna, and some do their best to make her life as difficult as possible. She stays with her Aunt Polly, who tolerates her but doesn't really want to hear about the "Glad Game". She wants her niece to behave like a well-bred young lady. Fun is not part of the equation.
What I love about the movie is how Pollyanna gradually wins everyone over by simply living her game. She is the glad game, and in the end she is given her own gift in return, just when she needs it most.
It's a Practice
This is what I mean when I write and talk about a "practice." A practice can be something like aikido, yoga, or meditation. It can also be a way of living, being, and seeing life. A path. Like the path of gratitude.
I lose my way often, stray from the path, sometimes for a quite a while. And I come back. And life is easier, happier, lighter and more generous. I'm more generous.
I'm not giving you bullet points today. You know how to do it--to be thankful. Just start by saying "Thank you very much" and looking for something to be grateful for.
Are you healthy today? Do you have enough to eat and a roof over your head? Are you able to read this post? Name one thing and start there. Look for one thing again tomorrow. It's a practice.
Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving!!! See you in December!
Main graphic courtesy of Disney.com