The greatest gifts, the most meaningful lessons and the most intense personal growth in my life, have come from the conscious practice of gratitude. I’ve found that no matter where I am in life or where I want to be, the fastest way to get there is with an attitude of gratitude.
There is always a reason to be grateful, for when we appreciate and celebrate what we already have in our lives, our hearts open, our blessings multiply and we discover a greater capacity for generosity, cheerfulness, and contentment.
A few years ago I had an experience that demonstrates the overwhelming power of gratitude. I was part of a small group that gathered to assemble and distribute “goodie bags” to the needy people living in the park in Santa Monica, California.
Our group met at a local shelter to fill bags with a toothbrush, toothpaste, warm socks, deodorant, a razor and other necessities. We were putting the items into bags, when a young homeless man in his 20’s walked into the room.
Thinking that he was being impatient and was there to pick up a bag, one of the men asked him to please wait outside with the others. Instead, he told us that his name was Josh, and that he wanted to help.
Surprised and somewhat ashamed of ourselves, we quickly welcomed him. As we worked side by side, he proceeded to share that he’d been homeless for a few months. Just the night before, he’d been beaten and robbed of his last few dollars, his coat, his glasses and his shoes.
His came into the shelter not to ask for help, but rather, to offer his assistance. Josh told us that no matter what happened to him, he was grateful that he still had two hands that were willing to serve his brothers and sisters on the street.
We were humbled by Josh’s compassion and most of all, by his profound sense of gratitude. For most of us, being homeless was about the worst thing that we could imagine. Yet, here was a man that was not only homeless but had also been beaten up and robbed- and all he wanted, was to express his gratitude to us and be of service to his friends.
Somehow all of my “problems” disappeared. My perspective changed from worrying about the things I don’t yet have in my life, to extreme gratitude for what I do. I went to that shelter to give, but I was the one who received. I left with the greatest possible gift- a tangible reminder of the power of gratitude.
Josh reminded me that regardless of my personal circumstances, each day I am given a choice. I can choose to wake up worried about the drama of life, or I can consciously shift my energy and perception and count my blessings. It’s impossible to focus on both at the same time.
The volunteers were so impressed and humbled by Josh, that after working with us for the afternoon, Josh left with shoes, a coat, a cell phone, a place to stay and even a job offer. The amazing thing is, all of this came from Josh being grateful for what little he had.
Gratitude helps us find the blessing, even in difficult situations or circumstances. When we feel gratitude deep within our souls, we grow as a person, the world is a brighter place, our attitude is uplifted, and anything seems possible.
Gratitude increases our connection to one another and to God, helps us see a greater bounty of blessing in our life, and creates even more things to be grateful for. Gratitude is the fastest way to move from where we are to where we want to be.
When one intentionally expresses gratitude at the beginning and the end of each day, we not only grow as individuals, but also, the world is indeed a very blessed place.
I’m curious to know: What has inspired you to grow as a person? By replying you will be entered to win one of two prizes! First Prize: $150 to a Local Spa, plus $50 Gift Certificate to the CerraBoutique. Second Prize: One of Five $100 Gift Certificate to the CerraBoutique.
Photo Credit: Max Elman