Have you ever bought a car and then suddenly you start seeing that car everywhere? You never really noticed it before, until you brought it into your life and then it seems you see that car more than any other. This is how life seems to work. Our reality is what we make it, to a great extent, and what we focus on manifests into our reality. When I’m down, I tend to notice all the negative things in my life. A friend who needs to cancel is suddenly “mad at me.” If I make a mistake, I’m replaying the old record of how I’m not enough, how I’m too irresponsible to be trusted, how I’m absent-minded and stupid.
When I’m feeling good, the record is different. It’s one of thanksgiving and gratitude.
My husband was reading a book by Tony Robbins last week and he asked me to read a chapter. The book was about financial freedom and the last chapter, the one my husband said I should read, was about the fact that financial freedom is nice, but no amount of money on earth can make us happy, if we don’t find happiness where we are right now.
We can choose to vibe higher, in what Mr. Robbins refers to as a “beautiful state,” or we can choose to vibe lower. The fact is, regardless of circumstances, we choose how we’re going to react and our thoughts and actions determine what we bring into our lives.
Just like the new car you suddenly see everywhere, our thoughts manifest our reality.
I think one of the things that brings negativity into my life is comparison. For me, it is the great thief of joy and it’s a liar. Comparison whispers in our ears, “I am better’ and ‘they are better.” Neither of which is true.
This morning, I opened my Bible to read, as I have been doing for a good while now and I came upon Psalms 123. In this psalm, verse four stood out to me, “Our soul is exceedingly filled with scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud.” Prior to that, you read a plead to God for mercy. “As the eyes of servants look to unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress, our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until that he have mercy upon us.”
As I read that, I think of how I have sometimes looked to others and felt a great sense of lack in my own life. I’ve been here so many times in my life and social media tends to exacerbate it. I log in to see the beautiful pictures of vacations and fashion, and happy families, and moms who seem to wake up all put together in their beautiful showcase homes, while I’m waking up bleary-eyed, in a home that’s caught in a state of perpetual renovation. I become filled with scorn of those that are at ease and I feel contempt of the proud.
We think, they have it so easy….their children are so well-behaved….they have the money to do that…it must be nice…and it’s from a false place of lack that negativity creeps into our souls. This is what Mr. Robbins would refer to as vibing pretty darn low. When we think this way, we are certainly not in the beautiful state. We think there’s not enough to go around. We fill up with jealousy and envy and pointless competitions that will never fulfill us, and because we are starving for love we will continue to grasp for these straws that lie to us and tell us if only we had [insert whatever you choose] we’ll be happy. We cry out for happiness and fulfillment as a servant does to a master, but we fail to realize that the key to our happiness is within each of us.
I’m reading a book entitled One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp right now, and she brings up the idea of living fully right here, right now. This idea struck me years ago, when I read a book by Thich Nhat Hanh entitled Be Free Where You Are. Both authors remind us that freedom isn’t an elusive thing out there to be had, or learned, or bought, but rather something we cultivate in our lives ourselves. Hanh and Voskamp say that we find our freedom in the mundane moments of our every day lives. There, in the thick of it – the runny noses, the middle-of-the-night illnesses, the arguments, the deaths, the boring endless days, the broken down cars, the feeling of abandonment, and everything else we all experience in our lives – is where the magic is. It’s there where all of our gifts are, if we only take a moment to notice.
It sounds so simple, right? Just take a few moments our of your day to be grateful. I’ve started so many gratitude lists in various journals over the years and I have noticed a trend: when I’m making lists of the amazing gifts in my life each day, I’m happier overall. I open my arms to possibilities and I find even more in my life to be grateful for.
And while this has happened every single time I’ve begun taking time to be grateful, I still forget to do this and the next thing you know, I’m filled with contempt of those who live at ease. I become envious, or jealous, and I suddenly need to go shopping, or I want to drink more wine, or I feel the need to just run away – ANYWHERE.
I forget that this life I’m living is THE GIFT. Even when it sucks.
Recently, I was really sick and awoke in the night feeling absolutely horrible. As I sat on the toilet, almost in tears because I felt like, well, shit, I took a moment to thank God for that time with him. Even while I was feeling horrible, I noticed how quiet the house was. I noticed the sweet cat at my feet, and I recognized that while I was ill, I’d get better and everything would be okay again.
I’d never have felt that if I hadn’t already been working on a mindset of gratitude. I’d have simply been miserable and alone.
I’m not saying I walk around feeling super happy all the time. I don’t always feel like smiling and I don’t always feel grateful for this life and that’s okay. I’m human. However, I’ve learned that being vulnerable and honest shows my inner strength more than putting on a smile and pretending I’m okay for everyone else’s sake (or my pride, if I’m being honest). I just want to keep it real. I give myself a reality check through the practice of gratitude, because when I do this I remind myself how beautiful this life really is. I can climb out of my hole of self-loathing and self-indulgence and be genuinely grateful for this life experience and all of the thousands of precious fleeting moments that might otherwise be overlooked. When I do this the beauty of this precious life grows.
“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:21
What are you grateful for today?
Take a moment to jot a short list, if you like, or just take a moment to say it out loud to the universe and see what happens.