Are you someone who loves reading and sharing inspirational words of wisdom?
I sure am.
Although they have served as a temporary reminder and given me momentary relief of hope, there have been times when it came to applying them in my life, those words went forgotten.
- I used to think I was this incredibly patient and relaxed person. I shared the importance of slowing down with others. Until I found myself annoyed with the overwhelming slow pace movement of Colombians.
- I used to think I was a simple person. I very seldom shopped for the latest trends. I hardly ever went to a hair salon, never got my nails done or any of that stuff. I spoke about the beauty in simplicity to others. Until the day I left to travel and live across South America with a suitcase packed with stuff I didn’t need and never even used.
- I used to think I had the whole notion of not taking things personally down packed. I gave this advice to others who would carry the stress, anger and hurt for days over what others said, did or thought about them. Until the day I received a reply from the man I wanted to do a story on, declining my request which left me crushed.
Yes, the words were like looking at a beautiful painting hung on a wall decorating a home, while the foundation of the house was shaky. Just like the painting will not prevent the house from crumbling down, words alone will not prevent our inner house from conflict.
In every single one of these examples, there’s ONE powerful tool which gave me the strength to build a solid foundation and grasp the core essence of the words to taking a different approach in my actions. It’s the most powerful source of energy that continues to enable me to get unstuck any time I am stuck: GRATITUDE.
I know, I’ve shared and written posts about gratitude a few times. You probably have heard, read or given this valuable piece of wisdom to others, “Be grateful for what you have,” right?
If you’ve ever found yourself stuck in certain situations where those words went forgotten, I want to share another inspiring encounter I recently experienced on the power of gratitude when it is deeply rooted within our foundation.
Two weeks ago, my husband and I took the three-hour drive to visit his parents. My mother in law, who has become increasingly frail, had been admitted to the hospital with pneumonia.
One morning, after breakfast, my husband and I decided to walk to the hospital which is 20 minutes from my in laws’ house and take in the fresh, brisk breeze.
When we got there, I kissed my mother in law. She felt my cold cheeks and asked why I was so cold. I told her that we had just walked to the hospital.
Hearing this probably healed her pneumonia faster than the antibiotics.
“That’s wonderful,” she said, “Be grateful for your health and well being.” I removed my coat, hang it up, walked over to sit beside her and asked, “How are you feeling today?”
She must have noticed my indifference to her words. The moment I sat down, she continued very intensely.
“I used to think that going for a walk was irresponsible because there were more important things to think about and worry about. I took every simple form of comfort and well being, including every moment of my children growing up, for granted. Now, I’ve missed it all without ever having known what it’s like to enjoy them. I never realized that being able to go for a walk was a great blessing not to be taken for granted.
A few years ago, my husband and I started going for afternoon walks along the path through the cemetery which is not too far from here. It’s a peaceful, breathtaking scenery with huge trees hovering over it. We’ve lived here for years without ever going for a walk there. There was always something more important to do and take care of than going for a walk. At 80 years old, I finally realize that if I had been attentive to the blessings I already had, it would have made all the struggles, which at the time seemed huge and insurmountable, easier to overcome. I couldn’t see any of this back then. I had everything that truly mattered, but it all seemed insignificant to me. I know this now. Today, I am grateful to be going home tomorrow and appreciate the view from my living room overlooking the river and the Chateau Frontenac. I lived in that house for over 50 years and that view was just a view. I never captured the beauty of it all. I learned that even when life comes crumbling down and gratitude seems way out of reach, it’s always right in front of me. Even if it’s for a cozy bed, a meal or a view, it has a tremendous power bigger than any problem. Don’t wait to find this out at 80 years old.”
She stopped, took a deep breath, turned around to face her son and said, “I love you. Pascal, I love you. I always have.”
This time, her words did not leave me indifferent, they left me speechless and immersed in the deep moment of silence that followed…
She was right.
Gratitude has helped me to build a strong foundation to change the things I want to change and never take the things and people that give me joy for granted. Yes, sometimes life has handed me situations that introduced a ‘dark side’ I had never met before. Deep rooted gratitude doesn’t pick and choose between good and bad. It lets you reconnect with yourself and your surroundings. It opened a gateway to my heart without having to repeat positive affirmations.
When the heart leads the way, the mind and thoughts follow.
- Being grateful for whatever I am doing in the moment helped me to slow down and understand that the journey is more important than the destination. By being fixated on the goal, I would have missed all the great things along the way.
- Being grateful for experiencing reality as it has helped me to understand that my thoughts about the past and worries about the future are a distraction from fully living right now.
- Being grateful for my mistakes helped me to understand that without them I could never learn anything new. What others think, say or do is reflection of their own fears, not mine.
Gratitude lovingly let me get out of my own way, see things clearly as they are and pay attention to the joy and beauty of every given moment. And, yes, going for walks, especially in nature, has been the easiest, most effective way to let gratitude empty my mind and let my heart lead the way.
Let’s keep sharing our heart warming, life changing stories and inspiring words of wisdom. And, let’s keep gratitude alive in our hearts to live by those words NOW before it’s too late.
As for me, I’m going for a long walk!
How about you? How has gratitude changed your life?