Tis the season to be jolly, but is it really a jolly time of the year for all? Behind the holiday bliss, there is another naked reality. The truth is, that many souls, even those in our own backyard are suffering at this moment from poverty, illness, loss and a host of other ailments that most prefer to draw the shades to. It is at times like this that we can extend our hearts to those in need through prayer, warm benevolent thoughts, the gift of our time and of our full attention as well as monetary offerings. How do we know how much to give? My grandfather used to say, ‘’give so that you can feel it but not so much that you suffer in return.’’
Whether we realize it or not, generosity is always available to each and every one of us regardless of our situation. As Mother Theresa reminds us, ‘’not all of us are capable of huge acts of kindness but all of us are capable of small acts with a huge heart.’’ Intention is essential. When graced with intention, one may receive even the smallest of gestures as colossal gifts.
But what does one do when the harsh naked truth hits home, and hits hard? Patanjali, in his Yoga Sutras, offered the perfect remedy for misery, depression, wanting and even suffering. ‘’Want what you have and you will have what you want.’’ This simple formula, when consciously applied is the antidote to our heavy hearts. As cliché as this ancient sutra may be for some, why not experiment during this auspicious time of jingle and lights with truly desiring everything that you already possess and observe what happens to your heart.
By wanting what you have, you instantaneously reverse the downward spiral of wanting more. There is a sudden shift of energy within, evoking an inner smile of expansion and contentment. This leads to an open heart, one that can feel, give and in turn receive. Suddenly, you began to see things from a different angle and you realize just how truly blessed you really are. There is no need to compare to others or experience guilt. Satisfaction, or santosha in Sanskrit, is a state of being that shapes our mindset and, in turn, creates our reality of now. It is a matter of choice whether to be bathed in the water of contentment or the murky waters of discontentment.
This is the beginning of cultivating an attitude of gratitude in our own lives even for the slippery steppingstones that have guided us to where and who we are today. Gratitude helps us ‘’enjoy the little things in life because one day we will look back and realize they were big things.’’ Being grateful never goes unnoticed and always leads to abundance. The more that you recognize what you have and are thankful the more you are showered with the gift of happiness.
Take a moment every night before you drift off into a deep slumber to allow your heart and soul to be filled with gratitude for the gifts of today. For those that want to jump start the process and magnify it a thousand fold, devote daily time to sitting, just being present with the magical essence of your life and the magical essence of your soul. You will quickly notice an infinite well of joy that lies within a grateful heart. Today and every day take a breath of gratitude and watch your life transform.
So I leave you with this poem that speaks directly to the heart of gratitude and I wish you a very Merry Holiday Season of wanting everything that you have and rejoicing in every bit of it.
The park bench was deserted as I sat down to read beneath the long, straggly branches of an old willow tree. Disillusioned by life with good reason to frown, for the world was intent on dragging me down.
And if that weren’t enough to ruin my day, a young boy out of breath approached me, all tired from play. He stood right before me with his head tilted down and said with great excitement, “Look what I found!”
In his hand was a flower, and what a pitiful sight, with its petals all worn-not enough rain, or too little light. Wanting him to take his dead flower and go off to play, I faked a small smile and then shifted away.
But instead of retreating he sat next to my side and placed the flower to his nose and declared with overacted surprise, “It sure smells pretty and it’s beautiful too. That’s why I picked it; here it’s for you.”
The weed before me was dying or dead. Not vibrant of colors, orange, yellow, or red. But I knew I must take it, or he might never leave. So I reached for the flower, and replied, “Just what I need.”
But instead of him placing the flower in my hand, He held it mid-air without reason or plan. It was then that I noticed for the very first time that weed-toting boy could not see; he was blind.
I heard my voice quiver, tears shone like the sun as I thanked him for picking the very best one. “You’re welcome,” he smiled, and then ran off to play, Unaware of the impact he’d had on my day.
I sat there and wondered how he managed to see a self-pitying woman beneath an old willow tree. How did he know of my self-indulged plight? Perhaps from his heart, he’d been blessed with true sight.
Through the eyes of a blind child, at last I could see the problem was not with the world; the problem was me. And for all of those times I myself had been blind, I vowed to see the beauty in life, and appreciate every second that’s mine.
And then I held that wilted flower up to my nose and breathed in the fragrance of a beautiful rose and smiled as I watched that young boy, another weed in his hand about to change the life of an unsuspecting old man.