Last week we met “Eric,” a veteran of the Canadian military.
Eric, as you may recall, left several of his limbs behind while serving in Afghanistan, and meeting him was one of the most inspiring and humbling moments of my life. Eric is filled with gratitude for all that life has to offer and is, without question, one of the most enthusiastic people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.
Eric introduced me to his daily ritual of spending the first 30 minutes of each day reflecting, with deep gratitude, on all the people, events and situations that have led to him enjoying the wonderful life he shares with his wife and family today.
This weekend we celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada and there is no better time for us to introduce a daily ritual similar to what Eric does each morning.
All of us, through the course of our lives, experience challenge, hardship, disappointment and grief. At times the accompanying emotions can feel so overwhelming that our entire awareness seems to be taken up with focusing on what we don’t have, and on everything that is not working out for us, that we can easily lose sight of how much we have to be grateful for.
Many years ago I introduced the practice into my life of beginning each day by writing out a short list of 10 things, past or present, for which I felt deeply grateful.
I followed this practice with near religious zeal for several years and recall with great clarity how that simple act served as a powerful primer for setting up my entire day.
That simple exercise always left me feeling energized, refreshed and excited by the prospect of what that day might bring. It empowered me to focus on the things I needed to do and served to remind me of the wisdom contained in the immortal words of the Serenity Prayer.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference
I followed this ritual for several years and then, I am embarrassed to admit, I chose the path familiar to so many of us who discover something that makes a huge difference – I started to slip.
At first, I skipped one day each week, then two, and then every second day, until I stopped altogether.
And it didn’t take long before I even forgot the powerful jumpstart this had given me and soon returned to my prior life.
Meeting Eric changed all that for me. In the time since our chance meeting I have commenced each day with pen and paper in hand and made my list of 10 people, events and experiences in my life for which I am deeply grateful.
Most days the urge to go beyond 10 is a powerful one and instead of increasing the list, I have taken to simply reviewing each item one by one while deeply enjoying the powerful feelings that flood my body as I reflect on how much each of these things have positively influenced, and are still impacting, my every day.
I cannot think of a better time than right now, Thanksgiving, to pledge to begin every one of my future days by reflecting how much my life has been blessed.
And I invite you to do the same. There are no words I am aware of that can aptly describe the uplifting and energizing feelings that doing this will bring into your very being, and your soul will soar in ways you’ve never experienced before.
And that’s a pretty darn good way to start each day.
Till we read again.