gratitude is transformative


Not long ago I was talking with friends about travel in India, how challenging it can be.  I remembered one trip that particularly rattled me.  And also brought home the message: Gratitude is Transformative.

After attending a close friend’s wedding, my daughter, her partner, and I were scheduled to take a bus tour to one of the lovely Hill Stations in southern India.  It was to be a ride of several hours.  We had not pinched our pennies and were booked on a Comfort Coach.  When we departed (hours late, no problem, one expects that), I found myself sitting, with room enough for only one butt cheek (pardon my French), on small bench squeezed tightly against two other people. It was a 2 person bench. There was a pole between my legs, and although Indian pop music, not my favourite at the best of times, was blaring at full volume from a loud speaker, I didn’t feel like pole dancing!  My daughter was many rows away, and there were hours to go.

I felt hard done by, gyped, outraged, accusatory but I wasn’t sure toward whom.  I felt a kind of desperation take hold, the feeling that often comes from the experience of powerlessness.  I can sense it right now.  You know the feeling?  It’s yucky as all get out.

Happily I had the presence of mind to step back and try to see the situation from a different place.  I asked myself what was OK, even good about my situation.  What could I be grateful for?  Well, I was alive, well, travelling with my daughter on a special trip, I was dry, safe (assuming the driver maneuvered the tricky twists and turns of the road up, which he did!), I could see out the window and enjoy the beautiful scenery, the bus trip would end, as everything does, and we would be in a beautiful place for a few days together; my neighbours were pleasant, I had food for the trip…. the list grew and grew, and the experience transformed.  So quickly, so radically.  Gratitude is transformative. Truly and deeply.

As we approach US Thanksgiving, Christine Paintner writes beautifully about the holiday, reaffirming that gratitude is transformative.

“Gratitude is a way of being in the world that does not assume we are owed anything, and the fact that we have something at all, whether our lives, our breath, families, friends, shelter, laughter, or other simple pleasures, are all causes for celebration. We can cultivate a way of being in the world that treats all these things as gifts, knowing none of us “deserves” particular graces.”  (Really reminds me of my bus trip!)

gratitude is transformative


Rather than moving through our day feeling cynical or burdened, we can consciously choose our thoughts. This doesn’t mean that we have to offer gratitude for injustices or abuse, we are always called to resist those. But it does mean we might be able to tap into greater joy to replenish us for those moments when we do need to fight for dignity and kindness. Gratitude overflows into joy and makes us feel connected to something bigger than ourselves.”  

Blessings to you and yours, may everyday be full of gratitude and thanksgiving, this week and beyond.

 Jill Schroder is the author of BECOMING: Journeying Toward Authenticity.  BECOMING is an invitation for self-reflection, and to mine our memorable moments for insights, meaning, and growth.  Check the website for a sample chapter, or see the reviews to get a flavor for the volume.  Follow me on Twitter, let’s be friends on Facebook :-)

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