"Nowhere else will you find greater demand or greater satisfaction than that which the bloom of self caring can bring to the Garden of Life." - Gregge Tiffen
I’d not especially noticed the link between gratitude and self-care until earlier this week when I had the experience of feeling deeply grateful for the commitment I have to what Thomas Leonard, my first coaching mentor, called “extreme self-care”. It was a bright, sunshiny Sunday morning after an amazing early hike with Luke as I sat down to enjoy the tasty brunch I’d prepared. As I took a moment to be thankful for the food and all who had some role in putting it on my table, a feeling of deep gratitude for how I take care of myself swept through me. In that moment I realized that living in gratitude is, for me, an act of self-care.
Perhaps some of you will think “well, duh, of course …”, but for me it was an ah-ha moment. It took me back to when I first began to consciously practice gratitude over a decade ago. I started a practice of consciously breathing in love, breathing out gratitude. Several years later, I realized that love and gratitude lived in each and every breath I take.
This week I have a deep sense that this and other practices of gratitude are acts of self-care that make my life the joy that it is to live, one of many acts that keep me healthy, happy, and, hopefully, on purpose. My first and last thought and words each day are “Thank you” and I’ve come to feel those words in my heart. Meister Eckhart, the 13th century German theologian, philosopher and mystic, is quoted as saying "If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough." I’m experiencing the truth of Eckhart’s words as well as that in Gregge’s wise words above.
Living in gratitude, like self-care, is easy when life is flowing in the ways we want. As I celebrate the birth of my step-son’s daughter this week, I am grateful on many levels. I’m grateful for our relationship across the years and miles, for his happiness, his health and that of his growing family. And, I’m grateful for the internet which keeps us easily connected (not to mention the flow of baby photos since her birth!). It’s easy to be grateful.
But perhaps the ultimate self-care is to develop the capacity to be genuinely grateful in the midst of adversity. What kind of world might be created if we learned to be grateful to live amidst and navigate through life’s challenges with gratitude? Is gratitude a path to world peace? And, aren't our children and our children's children worth whatever it takes?
Exploration for the Week: Notice your relationship to gratitude this week. What are you thankful for? What else might you be thankful for?