This month’s Spiritual Toolbox Addition is right in tune with the Thanksgiving: it’s called Gratitude, and when you practice it on a regular basis (we are not talking lip service), life is a whole lot more beautiful.
You’ve heard the gratitude spiel from pretty much every life improvement master, because it is the Ultimate Truth. That said, being grateful for tough things is not exactly our default. The good news is that it can become that, with practice. And, I learned a long time ago that if I found even one tiny thing that was good in every situation, I could manage just about anything.
So: How do you find gratitude in the cat throwing up, the kids making you crazy or an outbreak of adult acne, much less in big things, like death or divorce? Look in the 7 Areas of Life, as defined by Dr. John Demartini, world-renowned international educator, bestselling author, and public speaker in human behavior. John’s a veritable genius, and his work changed my life.
The 7 Areas are: Mental, Vocational, Financial, Family, Social, Spiritual, Physical. If you put any situation into the 7 Areas framework, you are bound to find at least one thing (if not dozens) that you can be grateful for.
Example 1: The cat threw up.
Emotional: The cat gives me so much love I couldn’t care less
Physical: I got exercise bending down
Social: My friends all empathized
Family: I made my kids clean it up this time.
Example 2: My marriage/relationship is over
Emotional: I can be true to my feelings
Spiritual: I can re-create my life – on my terms
Social: My friends are incredibly supportive
Physical: I don’t have to shave
Physical: I have time to shave.
Example 3: I broke my leg.
Physical: I have an excuse not to exercise
Spiritual: I am so grateful for my other leg!
Social: I am getting all kinds of attention
Family: They are waiting on me hand and “foot”
Example 4: I am stuck in traffic
Physical: Thank goodness I don’t have to pee
Emotional: Grateful I’m not in the accident that is holding up the traffic
Spiritual: I have time to think
Family: I don’t have to cook dinner!
Now that you know where to look, check out this super simple-practice: Every night before bed, bring to mind any situation, put it into the framework of the 7 Areas of Life, and find at least five things about it to be grateful for – big, small, serious or silly. Write them down or speak them to SIRI. Close your eyes, and really FEEL the gratitude for each one. When you wake up in the morning, read them out loud or to yourself. Indulge with the time to really feel them again. If you do this for just one month, you will have at least 150 things to be grateful for…whether it is Thanksgiving or not.
Byron Keith Byrd is a nationally recognized artist with works in public and private collections around the world. For more information, visit www.ByronKeithByrd.com