“My whole life turned around when I started counting my blessings.” ~ Willie Nelson
Few things have the power to completely change your life as gratitude. Gratitude is the source of happiness and the foundation of love. It is also an anchor for true faith and genuine humility. Without gratitude, a toxic stew of bitterness, jealousy, and regret boils within each of us.
I would know As a teenager and as a young man, I lived my life without gratitude and experienced the terrible pain of doing so.
Outwardly, I looked friendly, happy, and gracious. I could make anyone laugh and was loyal to my friends no matter what. But beneath the surface, a fierce fire was raging inside me.
In my heart, I resented being adopted as a child, despite the endless love and attention I received from my wonderful family. Over the years, her three bitter questions kept repeating in my mind.
- Why did my birth mother give me up for adoption when I was only a few months old?
- Why did I try so hard to be accepted by others when it was so clear that I didn’t fit in anywhere?
- Why did I have to go through the pain and confusion of not truly belonging?
As I allowed these questions to dominate my thoughts, I began to experience a range of negative and uncomfortable emotions as a result. I have come to think of myself as a victim. Of course, as you will find out later, this was not far from the truth. I was not a victim of circumstance, but a blessed recipient of grace.
In the end, my resentment of being adopted led to destructive behaviors such as binge drinking.
Early in his adulthood, his never-ending partying and hedonistic lifestyle satisfied a desperate need to belong. During that time, I got into many unhealthy romantic relationships with women, participated in countless destructive drinking nights, and frequently clashed with the police.
During difficult times in my life, I also seriously considered suicide. I got to the point where I mapped out how I was going to do it. Overdosing on pills and alcohol. And I bought both bottles of liquor and pills for the act.
If it weren’t for the painful thoughts of the final moments that caused such emotional pain to my family, I’m sure I would have gone through with taking my own life.
Growing up, spending so much time on myself and refusing to work on adoption sent me into a downward spiral. I was laid off from several full-time teaching positions, continued to battle alcohol abuse, was frequently accused of bouts of anger at others, and went to school every year or two, believing that a change of location would do the trick. I moved here restlessly. I finally found something like inner peace.
Throughout my twenties and early thirties, the demons in my mind kept getting the best of me. This cycle of frustration continued until a dramatic turning point in my life. When I traveled to Maui, Hawaii with my family, I experienced an unforgettable moment of healing while hiking through the transcendent beauty of that mysterious island.
On the third or fourth day of my trip, I found myself wandering alone down a small path that unexpectedly led to the edge of a breathtaking cliff overlooking a crystal blue sea. I was so overwhelmed with joy while standing there that I immediately tore all my clothes and let out a loud primordial cry! I felt
Looking back now on what I really felt in that moment, I realize it was gratitude. I felt pure gratitude for being alive. And I felt pure gratitude for finally knowing that I was part of something infinitely greater than my mind could comprehend. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for my relationship.
Suddenly everything about my adoption made perfect sense.
It was my destiny to be adopted by the family I was in. Also, it was an incomprehensibly high and selfless act of love for my birth mother to give me up for adoption. Enduring an exhausting legal battle was also an incomprehensibly high and selfless act of love.
In that moment, I felt like I had jumped into a higher realm of consciousness. There, the boundaries between who I thought I knew and the subject I thought I knew were gone. I wasn’t there at that moment. There was no birth mother. There were no adoptive parents. We were all just perfect expressions of love.
The point of this rather long story is that without the power of gratitude, a spiritual breakthrough would not have been possible for me. Because it was at the root of the deep glimpse. Ever since that day that changed my life, I have tried to make gratitude the foundation of my own inner walks.
Every night before I go to bed, I try to write down at least two things I am grateful for from that day. The idea of starting a gratitude journal may sound cliché to some, but it has helped me navigate through life with more gratitude. I also feel that I am becoming more appreciative of the blessings that I have taken for granted, such as health, access to clean water, air, and food.
My own experience with adoption has led me to believe that one of the greatest benefits of starting a gratitude journal is that it helps us wean ourselves from the egoistic mindset of seeing ourselves as victims of circumstances. became.
When we consciously set out to cultivate gratitude in our daily lives, we come to realize that there are many opportunities for personal growth from the experiences of life’s challenges.
Now whenever I hear someone complain that they are victims of this or that situation, I open my heart and listen quietly to their plight. and when you ask me for my thoughts and advice, I answer with the following questions:
But what are you grateful for? And what are the lessons learned through adversity?
Gratitude transforms our relationship with suffering. When we recognize the gratitude within us, even the worst of life’s events can be rediscovered as the crux of the factory.
You don’t have to go to a faraway paradise like Hawaii to cultivate gratitude. We all have the innate ability to experience this deep sense of gratitude for being in the present moment.