Attitudes of Gratitude Thoughts and Applications
M. J. Ryan presents some interesting practices in the book, Attitudes of Gratitude (1999). Here are some ideas. Hope you will practice some of them soon. As The 14th Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh suggest, we should always appreciate the preciousness and miracle of human life – our own life no matter what the challenges are.
- Understand that your emotional mood and the quality of your thoughts depend on where you place your attention and reflection. Do your best to pay more attention to the softness and warmth of your human heart and soul. Pay more attention to positive experiences and less attention to negative experiences.
- When you are plagued with GIANT problems or BIG emotional reactions to not-so-giant problems, look into the nature of the problem itself to see if any solutions arise. Life is all about arising and falling experiences – both good and bad. Causes and conditions present and lead to pleasure, pain/suffering, or neutrality.
- Pay much more attention to the little joys (“wonderment”) you may be missing by being on autopilot and rushing around trying to be happier trough material gain. Wealth and fame are nice, but they DO NOT bring lasting, inner happiness. Your happiness is an INSIDE JOB!
- Do your best to be in the present moment of experiences. The past is gone; you cannot change it. The future is not here yet; you cannot control it. Your real power comes from responding to whatever is now in your present moment experience.
- Pay much more attention to what is working for you now rather than what you desire and crave from the past or the future. If you are not present-minded, you cannot appreciate and have gratitude for what exists now.
- Reflect upon and honor your close friends, your family, and your ancestors. Use any of their spiritual supports to do well in adversity and to do great in happy experiences.
- Practice meditations on appreciation, gratitude, and loving kindness. These practices build your capacity to be happy. These practices also improve compassionate actions and self-compassion. Do you have self-compassion?
- Periodically, live a whole day as if it were your last day living on earth. Notice! See what you decide to do.
- In the final analysis, Buddhism informs us that life on earth will contain suffering, joy, and neutrality. All three conditions will occur in your experiences. You cannot escape suffering! How you respond will determine your level of satisfaction or your quality of life in the long run. Be happy! Be at peace! Be in the present moment!
For more information refer to Ryan, M. J. (1999). Attitudes of Gratitude: How to Give and Receive Joy Every Day of Your life. New York: MJF Books.
By Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
From the Eleanor R. Liebman Center for Secular Meditation in Monkton, Vermont
Author of Mindful Happiness
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