The second value I absorbed into myself was Gratitude. I was successfully able to complete the fast I explained in the last post. I spent five days without eating as well as without using my phone, computer or TV. It was a very odd experience at first because so much of what I do involves using technology but breaking away from the hold it seems to have on me was extremely freeing. Instead of constantly looking to my phone for notifications or the computer for emails, I was able to allow myself to take the time to form new and different ideas on how to spend my time. I did a lot of reading, spending time on the Science of Yoga and the Meditation Bible, as well as one of my old fiction books about vampires that was rather enjoyable. I even found myself exploring my old AP World History textbook and enjoying it.
Another big thing I noticed is how much time I didn’t spend thinking about food and what I would eat each day. I have struggled and have a very love/hate relationship with food and fasting was an excellent way to reform that relationship. I have been doing intermittent fasting, only eating in about an hour window each day, and this 5 day fast was the longest one I have done in about a year and a half, and could not recommend it more. The potential health benefits are seemingly endless and for me has greatly helped shape the way I look at food. Instead of focusing on the immediate satisfaction while snacking and eating throughout the day mindlessly, I have the time each day to remind myself that our diet is the single biggest opportunity we have to take our health into our own hands and I optimize what I am consuming in my small eating window. I look forward to continuing to fast periodically and even completing a full week within these 90 or so days.
Lastly, I spent a great deal of time meditating in a variety of ways which I drew from the Meditation Bible. I created the small meditation area seen below and now consistently meditate there in the morning and night as well as sometimes throughout the day. I have some religious figures, like Buddha from Buddhism and Ganesh from Hinduism. I have never been an overtly religious individual but have always found religions and the debate over the “correct” one interesting. I grew up identifying myself as an atheist because, in my mind, there were all these different religions and ways of life that one could end up identifying with and the determinant of that seemed to be highly based on your parents’ beliefs and the geographical location of your birth. I decided I did not want to blindly follow and have a huge part of my life depend on something that seemed random. I have come a long way since then and have explored many of the major religious ideologies and have decided that there is much to be learned from each one. I have a fluid belief that is constantly updating as I learn and experience more but believe all living beings are deeply connected and that we are more than the physical bodies in which we inhabit. I might explore this more in a later post but wanted to say I do not identify with any single religion and instead try to use all as a guide to draw from when applicable.
the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
late Middle English: from Old French, or from medieval Latin gratitudo, from Latin gratus ‘pleasing, thankful’.
From Proto-Indo-European *gʷr̥Htos, *gʷerH- (“to welcome, greet, praise”). Cognates include Sanskrit गृणाति (gṛṇā́ti, “to praise”), Old Church Slavonic жрьти (žrĭti) and Old Prussian girtwei (“to praise”).
From Proto-Indo-European *gʷerH- (“to welcome, greet, praise”). Cognates include Latin grātus (“welcome”), Old Church Slavonic жрьти (“to sacrifice”) and Old Prussian girtwei (“to praise”).
गृणाति (gṛṇā́ti) (cl.9 P. Ā., root √gṝ)
to call, call out to, invoke (RV., AV., ŚBr. IV, Bhag. XI, 21)
to announce, proclaim (RV.)
to mention with praise, praise, extol (RV., BhP. XI, 13, 41, Bhaṭṭ. VIII, 77)
to pronounce, recite (MBh., VII, 1754, Ragh. BhP. I, 1, 14)
to relate, teach in verses (Gaṇit. i, 4, 5)
to express approval; praise
Gratitude is centered around having a deeper knowledge of the time, effort, and energy required to create the thing you are experiencing. This allows for a deeper understanding and therefore a greater appreciation of this experience. I believe that being kind and being involved in things that take a great deal of effort help one become more grateful and attain this deeper knowledge because if one is often on the giving end of the exchange when they do receive something they can better appreciate it because they know what is required. There is also an element of deliberate energy and time spent on thinking about the things that we have become accustomed to and no longer appreciate fully because we come to view them as normal or a given.
Gratitude: The deliberate and recurrent effort to understand and give thanks for the time, effort, and energy required to create any thing, activity, or experience.
“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.”– Brene Brown
“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”– Gilbert C. Chesterton
I created this symbol to represent Gratitude because I wanted to drive home the idea that there is always addition, often times a great amount, of unseen work and assistance that goes into producing even the smallest of results. The acknowledgment of these unseen efforts is what produces and allows for a much deeper understanding and therefore gratitude of the smaller seen results. (I accidentally ripped my notebook which is the mark on the right and is not a part of the symbol).
I am grateful for…
The strong Earth for its stability,
Grounded and level it keeps me
The flowing waters that bring life,
To the world and its creatures alike
The powerful and ever shifting winds,
That spread seeds so life begins
The energy and light provided by the Sun,
For without it, all would be undone
All trees, of every shape and size
Providing for many with no hope of prize
The ocean, immense and diverse,
Home to many, that within traverse
Each and every one of Earth’s creatures,
Serving many purposes with their variety of features
The great number of plants and flora,
Bearing fruits that can shape one’s aura
The beautiful and roaming phenomena of clouds,
For the necessary rainfalls it allows
The grand and protective atmosphere,
Allowing all to live and prosper here
Eyes which provide me with sight,
Allowing me to take in all that is touched by light
My amazing ability to hear,
Unique sounds which I am near
My strong and hardened feet,
For bearing my weight on repeat
My rather large nose sniffing away,
Pulling all the smells my way
Each muscle that allows me to move,
Especially the ones that let me groove
All the intricate systems in me working together,
With the main goal of making me better
My mitochondria for being such a powerhouse,
Providing the energy so my cells can pounce
The renowned and vital epiglottis,
Keeping my trachea spotless
Scientists for pushing the boundary of what is known,
Leaving behind not a single unturned stone
Nurses and doctors with their vow to heal,
Their dedication to helping others is unreal
Farmers and ranchers working sun up to sun down,
To provide food to the people of their town
Crafters, musicians, and artists’ free spirit of creation,
Evoking all sorts of feelings and sensations
My wonderful and adventurous animal companion,
Who would follow me into the depths of a canyon
My supportive family always having my back,
Propping me up with things on my own I lack
People who I can call true friends,
There for the good and bad ’til the end
A roof over my head and food on my plate,
For so many do not share this fate
So many other people and things,
I am forever grateful to what life brings
I wanted to demonstrate the connection I believe there is between having a deeper knowledge of one’s circumstances and the ability to express a deeper level of gratitude. In this painting, a human catches an apple as it falls from the tree. Rather than mindlessly taking and consuming the apple, the human has a deeper knowledge of the time, energy, and effort necessary for producing it. This is depicted with a merging and connection between the human’s brain and the tree’s roots. I chose to represent the connection with a variety of colors to represent all the different aspects and shades that can go into appreciating something.
Questions and Answers
Why is this a value you want to instill in your life?
I want this value at the center of my life because practicing it consistently leads to a happier and more fulfilled life. Think about it, if one is always taking the time to show even a small bit of appreciation for everything they receive in life, that will certainly lead that individual to be happier as they develop the ability to always have something to be grateful for and focus on at any moment. This ability also bleeds over into their fulfillment because instead of always reaching and wanting more they are able to content themself and appreciate what they currently have. Overall, being grateful is a practice that leads to a much improved well being and life in general. In the end, I think everyone is simply striving to be happy and end their suffering and gratitude is a significant part of that process.
What activities bring out this value?
Taking the time to learn and understand the full extent of what is necessary for each and every thing, activity, and experience you engage in. Then taking the time to be thankful for each and every time you partake in any and every thing, activity, and experience. Gratitude is definitely a quality that works a lot within you and is not always visible but can be expressed with words and actions through reciprocation when others help you and something as simple as a letter of thanks. I am in the process of writing letters of gratitude for certain people in my life and I hope with them I can express even a fraction of the gratitude I feel for them.
How would the world be different if more people identified more with this ideal?
I believe people would be so much happier and content because they would have the ability to find gratitude in every moment of their lives. Each breath they take, each ray of sunlight they feel, and every cool breeze that rushes past them would be an opportunity to express gratitude for the gift of life. People would gravitate towards love and move away from hate. People would connect with each other more through mutatual appreciation for everyday things they experience. And people would feel significantly more fulfilled and appreciated from all the people expressing gratitude for them. The world would be a more loving and positive place to inhabit.
What image comes to mind when visualizing this ideal?
I imagine an image similar to the painting but to a much greater degree. When I am trying to express general gratitude for life, I envision my brain spreading out and digging into the Earth-like the roots of a tree. Intertwining with the world as a whole and working to understand all the intricacies that make life possible.
How can people who want to do this first take steps to include it in their daily routine more?
A great and easy way to start bringing more gratitude into one’s life is to take the time to write something you are grateful for each day. I do this every night when I journal, I think through the day and pick one or two things that I am grateful for, whether it is as simple as someone being friendly and waving to me to something as complex as the protective atmosphere that is constantly granting all life the ability to prosper. Just this simple daily act of gratitude will slowly grow and you will notice the things you write down and remember to express gratitude in the moment and this will become more and more common until you find yourself feeling immersed in gratitude throughout the day.
If you have any other questions you think would aid in the understanding and development of future ideals, please leave a comment below!
The following playlist is the beginning of my collection of songs that I believe embody Gratitude:
If you have any other songs you think would fit in the playlist, please leave a comment down below letting me know!
Next Value: Optimism
I will be shifting my focus to optimism next. I am extremely excited about this value because I have always been a fairly optimistic person and hope to continue and solidify that theme in my life. I am of the belief that at every moment of our lives we have the ability to take the time to do a mental reset and gain more control over our emotions and how we feel. Of course, there are certain situations that emotionally affect us and it is nearly impossible to pull oneself out of the situation and shift our perspective. However, with practice, there is nearly always a mental vantage point one can take that allows one to focus on the positives of each situation and interaction. Therefore, if this emotional versatility and attitudinal adaptability are possible, then why not always choose to focus on the good and resonate positivity? I chose to be happy as much as I can and as one of my favorite artists, Logic, preaches constantly… “Peace, love, and positivity.”
Make Today Your Best Day Yet!
“Life is a series of fresh starts, the frequency of use is up to the individual”~Zak Keller aka amusingmonk~