Gratitude is an attitude

Posted on June 16, 2013

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Gratitude-is-the-open-door-to-abundanceI spent this evening at a thought-provoking talk at the Capital Club with life and executive coach, Marwa Karoura. The topic?  “Operating out of Abundance: A Journey into the ‘Never Enough’ Illusion.”

I was with my friend Brandy and chatting en route home, we both agreed that whilst we didn’t necessarily learn anything new, we certainly had a few things re-enforced, things that we, and I suspect most around us too, could identify with.

Think back to when you were little.  Most of us were brought up to believe that an ordinary life is meaningless. Ordinary is simply not good enough. 

We were often weighed down by parental expectations from getting better academic grades to sporting PB’s, from getting a lead role in the school play to perfecting our scales on piano exam day … when parents put that level of expectation on their kids, is it any surprise that those kids become adults and continue to place the same high expectations on themselves? As adults, these expectations are just inflicted on our career progression, our hobbies, our sports, our social and community responsibilities and so on.

And this ‘never _______ enough’ is sadly, something we too often drag along into adulthood.

We’re constantly adding more and more to our lives, we’re constantly achieving extraordinary things yet we’ve cultivated, over the years, a sense of insecurity and fear of never being _______ enough. Fill the blank yourself … it could be thin, good, rich, fast, secure, powerful, smart, talented, confident …

The overriding message was that we need to learn to take a step back, to chase and be content with the ordinary. That doesn’t mean boring or conventional but it does mean being authentic and realising that we need not be perfect in everything we do. It does mean that we must learn to treasure what we have and to appreciate that we live abundant lives. It does mean that we must stop constantly seeking approval and validation and instead, show ourselves a little compassion.

How often do you wake up and before you’re even out of bed, feel inadequate?

Perhaps you berate yourself off for not having had enough sleep or for pressing the snooze button one too many times? Perhaps you suddenly remember you forgot to run an errand the day before or never wrote that email you planned to write. Do the words ‘failing’, ‘behind’, ‘losing’ or ‘lacking’ feature highly in your vocabulary? They’re all negative words, which should be banished … words which will only lead otherwise to frustration, disappointment, jealousy, judgement and greed.

Marwa talked about learning to be kind to yourself … something that I’m very good at now but once upon a time, I was relentlessly hard on myself, placing expectations on consistently high achievement and being unforgiving in the case of falls or stumbles.

Being kind to yourself means being forgiving, being graceful, being mindful, being connected and being you … choosing you and loving you. If you don’t love who you are, how on earth can anyone else love you?

Practice gratitude too. See the positive in yourself. Take a jar and fill it regularly with little statements of gratitude, an active reminder of how much abundance we have in our everyday lives.

The closing slide was the Dalai Lama’s ‘Paradox of our age’, the words of which I have noted below. Read them. Then start right over and read them again. I don’t believe there’s a single reader who could argue that these words bear no meaning.

We have bigger houses but smaller families;

more conveniences, but less time.

We have more degrees but less sense;

more knowledge but less judgment; 

more experts, but more problems;

more medicines but less healthiness.

We’ve been all the way to the moon and back 

but have trouble in crossing the street to meet our new neighbour.

We built more computers to hold more copies than ever,

But have less real communication;

We have become long on quantity,

but short on quality.

These are times of fast foods but slow digestion;

Tall mean but short characters; 

Steep profits but shallow relationships.

It’s a time when there is much in the window

But nothing in the room

Ultimately, abundance is all about acknowledging what we have and being grateful for what we have. It is not something we acquire but something we tune in to. It is an attitude, a paradigm shift, which changes your entire view of the world and enables you to shine brighter than ever before …

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