In challenging times it is hard to cultivate a sense of gratitude. The current recession has robbed many people of a quality of life that they were used to for many years. There is a deep sense of insecurity and disempowerment being felt by thousands of people because of the economic downturn. It seems as if our nation has been engulfed by a wave of endless doom and gloom. Hope seems to have evaporated in the scorching heat of financial indebtedness. All seems lost. The future seems bleak.
It is quite easy to make a list of all the things that we have lost. Sometimes it is even easier to discuss all the things we could do with. Such lists do not lift mood. They do not inspire solutions. I am not suggesting for one minute that we should sweep the past under the carpet. We need to respect the past but not let it govern the rest of this precious journey. I have met hundreds of people who allow yesteryear throw a shadow of the rest of their lives. They allow the failures or hurts of the past to prevent their true potential being realised. The reality is that none of yesterday can be changed. It’s over. We would all love to return and undo our mistakes. We all carry regrets. But yesterday is over and done with.
Other people become obsessed with tomorrow. They worry about the recession. Will it ever end? Is there any point in sending children to university? Will they ever have jobs? I am not suggesting that we make ourselves blind to the future. It is often wise to prepare and plan. However, there is much about tomorrow that is not definite. A reality of life is that many people will not wake up tomorrow but they do not know that today. We should try not to burn too much time on needless worry. Many of our worries are never realised. We can brew lots of anxiety in our lives. We can affect the quality of our days by anticipating crises that never happen.
Sometimes we would be in a much better place if we focused more on the gift of today. Often we do not see the things right under our noses. Family. Friends. Reasonably good health. A roof over our heads. Food in the fridge. Air to breathe. If you were living in Syria there would be no talk of a recession or financial pressures. Over two million people have fled from the country and are living in tents. Their homes flattened. Their businesses left behind forever. And there will be no bailout for them. The educational and healthcare system are practically non-existent as innocent people have been slaughtered, poisoned and maimed.
It is far too easy to push aside or overlook the gifts of today. A tragedy or crisis can often conjure feelings of gratefulness and relief that the situation did not turn out worse than it might have. But once such crises have passed, research shows that we fall back into the same routine of taking for granted the blessings of our lives. We return to old patterns of self-centred, unappreciative thoughts and actions. We have survived as a species because of our innate ability to seek out threat, to perceive the negative first. We need to work harder at harnessing the ‘positive’ in our lives. It would be foolish to underestimate the very real impact the economic collapse has had on our people. However, we need to count our blessings in the dark times. We need to infuse our daily experiences with gratefulness for what we have been blessed with on this journey. Hope ignites in such an atmosphere. Fostering a sense of gratitude would go a long way……