Cultivating The Quiet Joy Of Gratitude
Far away, in the majestic Himalayan foothills lies an ancient little village, a very special place that almost does not belong to this world, and yet is so very valuable to it. Many things make it special. For one, it is a place hallowed by the footsteps of many great and wise saints from across the ages. These sages sought refuge in this peaceful place to carry out their contemplations on the meaning of life, going on to make a positive contribution to humanity with legacies that are alive over a century later. The name of the village, Rishikesh, translates from Sanskrit to mean ‘One who has conquered the senses, a sage’.
As one enters this heavenly picturesque place, there is a sign: “Welcome to Dev Bhoomi”, which means “Welcome to the Land of God”. Behind the noisy disturbances of new-age tourism, these ageless mountain foothills stand immovable, and the graceful sacred river Ganges flows happily on, providing a canvas of peace behind the mayhem of scooter hooting.
A heart-warming practice
But there is something else that makes it special, and that is the quiet joy of gratitude. Every evening, as long as time can remember when the ochre sun starts to drop toward the horizon, all the people in this ancient village gather along the Sacred River to pay homage. Circling golden flames of devotion, they sing with all their hearts to the mighty Mother Ganga.
And to the setting Sun, the great Earth, the Moon, the Stars and most of all to that Divine Intelligence that taps our heart into beats of Life with every breath we take. They sing to say ‘thank you’, with the most touching sweetness you can imagine; a joyful gratitude for all that sustains them. They have the deep poetry of soul to see a river which gives them so much, as not just a river, but as their living Mother.
Wealth of spirit
These are people of simplicity who do not have much materially by modern world measures, but who have the wealth of spirit to be so grateful for what they do have and to come out every sunset to show it. It takes greatness of heart and humility of spirit to do that. And what a refreshment to the soul this is, in a world where nothing ever seems to be enough for us.
This little corner of the Earth expresses gratitude with such an abundance of love and joy, that it seems to do it on behalf of the whole world, wisely knowing that in humanity’s unquenchable quest for ‘more’, an abiding gratitude for the simple abundance in our lives is rare to be found. How wonderful it would be if we could join them in our own way. And, of course, we can. What are the ways to cultivate the joy of gratitude?
How to cultivate the quiet joy of gratitude
- Every day, give thanks. What a wonderful practice it’s to say a small prayer of gratitude before each meal. Bring prayer into your daily life, in whatever way feels meaningful for you. Prayer connects us to our inner spirit.
- Observe the negative tendency of the mind to dwell on lack instead of abundance in our lives. Catch it and rewire it. There is always something to be grateful for, and always so many in the world far worse off than we are.
- Keep a daily or weekly Gratitude Journal. You will be amazed at how transformational this simple practice can be. In it, record the top five things that you are grateful for that day or that week. Write down why you are grateful for each. What does it bring into your life?
- Observe the impact of the practice of gratitude of your emotional, mental, and physical health. When we personally experience the benefits of a practice, we realize that it is not just an airy-fairy concept, but an act of conscious intelligence.
Consciously decide who you want to be in this life – a grumpy complainer, or one who has learned how to abide in simple joy. Because the beauty of gratitude is that it brings Joy. And none of that comes from anything outside your Self. It is the very essence of who you are.
“Every day, think as you wake up: today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it.” – Dalai Lama
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