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The Power of GratitudeOctober 8, 2012
Gratitude is one virtue we can never have too much of. The power of our thoughts to shape our lives is astounding. Peace Pilgrim, the woman who walked across America for the cause of Peace, said, “If we knew how powerful our thoughts were, we would never again have another negative thought.”
To me, this doesn’t mean entering the land of denial. The healthy response to so-called “negative” feelings that well up, whether fear, grief, anger, is to acknowledge them with compassion. Detachment is knowing what we feel and stepping back to decide what we will do about it. As Steven Covey says in Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, “Between the stimulus and the response, there is always choice.” So assuming a position of thankfulness has nothing to do with denial of the challenging feelings that come of their own accord. It is that spiritual pause to choose how we will deal with them. It is refocusing our energy on virtues, such as justice, truthfulness, forgiveness, and peacefulness. Within every emotion is a longing for a virtue. If we feel we have been wronged, we yearn for justice. If we feel sad, we are grieving for our lost joy.
Discerning a peaceful path to justice is the key to resolving anger. It is the choice to give up the love of power for the power of love. Sometimes if I feel betrayed or hurt by someone close, I look inside for the boundary I need to set so it won’t happen again, and again. I take responsibility for establishing justice in the relationship. There are many people in this world who do not have that luxury or that freedom. It will take the rest of us stepping up to stand for justice for everyone to have it.
For those of us who have the precious freedom to choose our responses, and to lead our lives, the key is not to dwell on the unpleasant things of life, but to keep resetting our inner compass with the virtues, which are our true power. Count your blessings and notice how much easier you are breathing, how a smile comes to your lips. Let your gratitude well up and fill you. Thanksgiving is a perfect time to remember what a gift life is.