Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Resolutions: Gratitude and Perseverance

It's the first Wednesday of the new year and safe to say some of us have already crumbled up our resolution lists and tossed them in the trash.  It is difficult and can be depressing.  The reminder of what we don't have and what we haven't done.  The lack in life is committed to paper and we don't like what we see.  All we can see is where we are falling short.  Facing the truth can be brutal.  However, if we allow ourselves to reflect deeper we might find a truth that would encourage and compel us forward.

Have we ever considered looking back and making a list of where we succeeded in the past year.  Maybe make a list of everything we are grateful for.  When we only set our goals based on what we don't have, we have fuel to light the fire that will compel us forward.If we only see the truth of our failures and not see the truth of our successes, we are automatically set up to fail.  In Girl Interrupted, Susanna Kaysen frames it this way, "...chronic feelings of emptiness and boredom came from the fact that I was living a life based on my incapacities that were numerous."  Our focus needs an adjustment towards gratitude.

The Bible instructs us to, "In all things give thanks." (I Thessalonians 5:18a).  There seems to be no distinction between giving thanks when we win or when we loose.  We are to give thanks in everything.  Emerson takes it a bit further   ".....and because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude."  So it seems that in order for us to move forward (which is the goal of these resolution lists) we need to be grateful for everything. And for some of us that requires a real mind shift.

For some, making the list is hard enough. Digging for gratitude can be the greatest challenge of all.  But maybe, just maybe if we are allow ourselves to strive for something we may find ourselves embracing gratitude.  Don't believe me?  Here is what  BrenĂ© Brown  "....believe in something with your whole heart, to celebrate a fleeting moment in time, to fully engage in a life that doesn't come with guarantee - these are risks that involve vulnerability and often pain.  But, I'm learning that recognizing and leaning into the discomfort of vulnerability teaches us how to live with joy, gratitude and grace."

Don't fear the journey.  We are all on a path.  Last year 215,880 pilgrims embarked on an 800 kilometer (497 mile) journey on the Camino de Santiago.  Most of the pilgrims walk. A few will bike. There are so many unpredictable variables along the way - the weather, accommodations,  people, your health, etc.  But, people have been embarking on this journey for centuries.  Everyone has their reason for the trip.  But, at the end of the journey, after overcoming the obstacles, they arrive at the shrine of the Apostle St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compestela in Galicia, Spain.  They celebrate with a mass full of songs, sweet fragrances, and communion.  They don't focus on how hard it was. They simply focus on the fact that they did it and they gave thanks.

Stick to your journey. Stay true to resolutions. Maintain focus on where you are going and not the land you left behind.  Practice gratitude.  Rejoice with each small step.

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