Living in Gratitude

I spent a lot of time during my childhood sitting in my room pouting.  Decades later, during my personal therapy journey, I was able to move beyond much of the negativity and pain of those early years.  It was in my therapy community that I first had a strong sense of belonging.  I felt content and happy.  One day, though, I heard a friend talking about feeling joy.  Happiness versus joy….. hummm.  That was something to contemplate.  I felt happy, but I certainly did not feel joy.

When I met Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi), a humanitarian and spiritual leader from India in 1989, I started having experiences of joy.  Often the joy was short lived, but it was always accompanied by a feeling of overflowing gratitude.

Through the years, Amma has taught me the importance of meeting each of life’s challenge with equanimity, being thankful for negative events as well as the positive ones.  She said “We should understand that life gives us what we need and not necessarily what we want. It follows its own wisdom, which is often incomprehensible to our gross minds. We should learn to accept situations in life. This attitude of acceptance is the secret to happiness.”

I have come to realize that I daily make choices between living in gratitude or resentment, happiness or suffering, abundance or scarcity, in the present moment or in the past or the future, and in acceptance or resistance.  My choices are made moment-to-moment as I decide where to focus my attention.

Learning to live in gratitude will certainly be a lifelong endeavor for me.  I recognize there will be joy and there will be pain and I can learn from both.  To the best of my ability, I will focus on my progress rather than my failures.  I feel immensely grateful that there will be people throughout my life who will accompany me as I walk this journey of life.

Written for Dungeon Prompts: Season 2, Week 9- Gratitude

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39 thoughts on “Living in Gratitude

  1. I love this and can so relate to this. I have written a draft for this and I vacillate from the pain and the joy in my life. I could never have experienced moments of elation, warmth of happiness and joy if I had not embraced suffering first. I really like the look on this blog…very nice!! Namaste, Oliana

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    1. Thanks Oliana. It is fun trying to figure it out how to create the blog. Sreejit helped me get the “about me” page up this morning! So wonderful that India and Seattle are only a Skype call away.

      I agree that there is a relationship between pain and joy. I believe working though our pain makes it more likely we will see the opportunities for happiness and joy when they come and also that we will be able to experience them more fully.

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  2. So glad to hear you have started a blog, there is an abundance of people including ‘us’ here to help you if you need tips 🙂

    Sreejit has been a great inspiration to me unwittingly and helped through his prompts to open up a wealth of thoughts/emotions & acceptances, so I thank him and you for being his mother and look forward to reading more of your posts.

    I will promise to get my mind together and from my chronic pain blog formulate my post for your prompt of gratitude, I always seem to procrastinate even though I thought this would be an easy one.

    Justine x

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    1. I just may take you up on your offer for tips!

      Thanks. I’m glad that you have found inspiration from Sreejit’s prompts. I have found them very thought provoking and valuable too.

      I look forward to reading your gratitude post whenever you finish it. However long it takes is just fine… and exactly right.

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  3. I really enjoyed reading this. It was very thought-provoking. ‘

    Often the joy was short lived, but it was always accompanied by a feeling of overflowing gratitude.’ – this is something that I too have experienced. I am a Christian and many times my joy is linked with my faith and I can have joy in the midst of the most awful circumstances imaginable. I hadn’t realised til I read your blog but there is always a link with gratitude for me – grattitude to a God who loves me, protects me, forgives and regularly rescues me. And I’m sure that it works both ways – when I am grateful – joy comes with it because I recognise value in my cirncumstances.

    ‘She said “We should understand that life gives us what we need and not necessarily what we want. It follows its own wisdom, which is often incomprehensible to our gross minds. We should learn to accept situations in life. This attitude of acceptance is the secret to happiness.” ‘ – I too agree with this sentiment. In my experience when I have accepted that which I cannot change, somehow wisdom, understanding and peace come. I think it needs to come with caution though – I have a friend who ‘accepted’ that her husband would abuse her and stayed in a bad situation much longer than she could have done. I think there is a time for acceptance and a time for non-acceptance. After all there is great injustice in the world which should and must be addressed.

    Thank you so much for your blog. Reading it has added joy and peace to my day.

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    1. I’m glad reading my gratitude post added joy and peace to your day. I resonate with everything you said here. Amma’s music and Gospel music both have brought me exhilarating joy. And yes, acceptance is meant to be used with discrimination. Sometimes it may accepting the fact that you have to leave a toxic situation.

      Your post reminded me of the serenity prayer written by Reinhold Niebuhr:

      God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
      The courage to change the things I can,
      And wisdom to know the difference.

      Thanks for reading my post and commenting.

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  4. Such a lovely post.
    Have been thinking about the gratitude theme all week (or for the last few weeks really, since a dream reminded me “you need to be more in gratitude”) but haven’t gotten a moment to really focus on writing.
    Happy just to read this.

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  5. What a beautiful blog post. I already want to look at your book Getting To Joy…I too am a Pacific NW blogger, so glad to have company 🙂 Thank Sreejit !

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  6. Great read to start the day with. February was a stressful month with a few changes for the good, even still, yesterday I needed a “downtime” day and right now feel the need to refocus. I am grateful for everything I have. I know a lot of people who spent their childhoods pouting in their rooms and may or may not be better for it. One thing I’ve learned is that you’ve got to live life your own way as much as possible while still living for others.

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  7. Loved your post! Such a beautifully written work of art and it has such a lovely peaceful rhythm about it. I found your blog through Sreejit and I am thankful for that. Although our journeys differ, as all do-for our footsteps imprint the path like snowflakes..and each is unique-I have come to believe as you; that our experiences should be embraced and we are given what we need, when we need it.

    I hit my bottom and started my blog a little over a month ago. A bottom that felt like it would be the end of me. I genuinely felt that way. The love of my husband pulled me out, though if I had not changed in my deepest heart, I would not be talking to you. I am so grateful now for things, little things-tiny bits of joy. Big joyful things do not come often, but if I fill my little jar of hope with those tiny bits, it becomes full.

    Even if there are bad things now, I embrace them, though I have bad days where I fight still. I am human. In the end I try to learn something…and not hold on to it; And I am more forgiving of others and infinitely more patient.

    I wish you such joy and blessings and abundance on your journey. I will be following you. If your path takes you there, I hope you will wander to my tiny blog.

    ❤ Holly, Inkberry's Quill

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  8. I just looked at your blog. It is beautiful and your poetry is so powerful. I’m glad you found this way to help you heal from the big challenges you are experiencing now. I will definitely go back and explore your blog more thoroughly in the future.

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  9. Your post is inspirational, Karuna! When I struggle with pain I tend to fall prey to darker thoughts and yet I am so grateful for what I have. And even pain gives my muse so much to work with. I have noticed that plus in the past year. Your post is a nice reminder for me today.

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    1. I imagine we are all more likely to go into dark thoughts when we are in pain, but luckily when we get used to focusing on gratitude we are more likely to remember that the light will come back! I think that usually makes the pain more bearable.

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      1. I used to say, pain means I can still feel. But in the past year I have noticed physical and emotional pain are wonderful companions for writers…that’s what I did last night, I wrote several posts on both blogs and the pain was so bearable.:)

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