By Kate Bartolotta
I’ve often wrestled with this balance: How do we embrace the present moment with gratitude, while still having a clear focus on what we desire or want to create in our lives?
When many of us talk about gratitude for our lives, the idea of what we have versus what the less fortunate have comes in to play: “we should be grateful.”
In fact, I’ve found myself on many occasions not owning my feelings of unhappiness, instead saying, “well, I should be grateful. These are first world problems.” And that attitude neglects both true gratitude and an honest look at what I desire.
There is truth to this idea, to shifting our perspectives to see that the problems we are facing are small in the big scheme of things. But to avoid looking at these difficulties isn’t helpful!
I love how Pema Chodron talks about it: “Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look.”
Authentic gratitude that can actually affect and transform our lives cannot come from a place of avoiding the truth of the present moment.
Hmm. Let’s think about that a minute.
I am an upbeat, “look at the bright side” kind of person. Inside, there is a part of me that always wants to see the best in the people and situations I encounter.
But, obviously, life is life, and not all of what shows up feels awesome. Some of it hurts like hell, and even if we believe that we will eventually learn from those painful moments, desiring something else isn’t wrong; it’s sane.
True gratitude isn’t like sitting Christmas morning opening a gift from a distant relative who still thinks you’re ten years old and knuckling under with a knot in your stomach saying, “Well, I guess I should be grateful that I got a gift at all.”
It isn’t looking at your problems and ignoring the hurt because someone else is worse off. Many spirituality writers talk about how we need to express gratitude and acceptance of what we have before we can open up to receive what we desire, but this doesn’t mean we sit around and try and pretend we love the parts that suck.
Instead, it takes looking at our lives honestly and acknowledging the good and bad parts of the present moment, and noticing the parts that best reflect the desires of our most authentic self.
This isn’t like sitting in front of a bowl of cold oatmeal and saying, “well, I should be grateful because there are many people who are starving.” It’s looking up at a cloudy sky and saying, “Oh there it is!” when we find the piece of blue peeking through the clouds.
We must start from a place of looking at the present moment honestly, and then looking for the pieces that shine. It can be small simple things that we notice. It’s standing in the shower and smelling the coconut lather of my shampoo and saying, “yes, this feels good.”
Or sliding my feet under the covers and feeling the softness of freshly washed sheets and saying, “yes, this is what I want.”
It is feeling appreciation when I pay for groceries at the checkout counter. It is my morning coffee as an act of meditation in the midst of a busy day. It is looking at my relationships with the people in my life and noticing when I feel loved and saying “yes.”
It isn’t pretending that everything is awesome 24/7, or that we do not wish to move forward from where we are. It is starting where we are, and seeing the glimpses of this moment that reflect where we want to go.
It is the child inside of us noticing with joy the things that make our hearts sing and saying to the Universe, “Yes. This. More please.” The dance between gratitude and desire is noticing every “yes,” noticing when we are happy and giving thanks.
What are you grateful for today? How does it reflect or resonate with what you desire?
**Blog originally posted here**
Kate Bartolotta is the owner and founder of Be You Media Group. She is determined to change the world—one blog at a time. Kate’s book, Heart Medicine, is now available on Amazon.com Connect with Kate on Twitter, Facebook and Google +.
Editor: Dana Gornall