“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” — Oprah Winfrey
It’s been over a week since I’ve written a new piece. I’m still absorbing the memories from our visit to Rwanda where we spent time with our partner and the underserved communities our nonprofit works with. Each time the plane touches down in Newark I am immediately jolted into what feel like a timeless, motionless, bubble where all I can hear is the sound of someone’s breath. I know I’m home, but I haven’t felt the hot shower nor laid in a bed without a mosquito net hovering above. I haven’t tasted my morning tea, held my dog nor prepared a meal of organic vegetables. I haven’t taken a breath of air that is not ridden with dust.
When I reach home I look around at the furniture, the stove and refrigerator, the soft rugs and the sealed, smooth floors. I sit at my kitchen table and enjoy a cup of tea made with filtered water. I don’t have to worry about parasites. I feel overwhelmed with all that I have. The heat is churning to keep me warm and I have several sweatpants to choose from when I feel like getting cosy. I take my tea, walk to the bedroom and lay on my bed slipping under a sea of soft, supple and clean covers. I feel like crying. It’s so much.
I wake the next morning and I notice everything I have that the families I have just visited only a few days earlier in Kigali may never know. In some ways they have more from a communal sense, but their lives are far more difficult in so many other ways. I continue to go through my day and each day that follows just noticing and silently saying ‘Thank you’ to whatever higher power exists. I don’t let anything go unnoticed – my mother and father are healthy, my sister is laughing and safe, my husband is next to me and treats my kindly and with love. I have a toilet in my home and it flushes. I can buy the herbs – any herbs – I need to help with a small health condition I have. I am safe.
I’ve been to Rwanda seven times and have visited countless underserved communities in countries around the world. I know what poverty looks like – no running water, little food, disease and violence. It is the most difficult life you can imagine.
So many of us in the West are spoiled from a comfort standpoint beyond measure. I’m not about to go into a conversation about happiness – that is for another time – I am just going to focus on how most Westerners have all our basic needs met, yet we find things to complain about. Let me let you in on a little secret – if you have your basic needs met – if you are safe and healthy you are blessed, so incredibly blessed. You have essentially been given a golden ticket to life with the conditions that you take the ticket and create a life of purpose and one filled with joy. You are the world’s lightworkers, it’s a privilege that should not be taken lightly. And the only way to continue to create abundance and joy is to sit in a big, sloppy, overflowing pool of Gratitude. Every thought, every step, every encounter should be rooted in Gratitude. This my friends in the secret to generating more abundance and to aligning with a pure life purpose.
If you believe that thoughts and actions produce energy and that energy links up with like energy then you’ll see how gratitude – using the universal laws of quantum physics – is the secret to creating the most beautiful life imaginable. Think only positive thoughts and those thoughts will radiate out in channels that will find other positive energies that will make their way into your life. Many scientists believe that our nervous system is basically a transmitter that sends out signals into the environment and these “waves” attract similar waves that drawn us to certain people and circumstances.
Like I mentioned earlier, many of us in the West have our basic needs met and others’ cups are overflowing. The next step is to move towards a life of purpose that contributes to the collective happiness of the planet – people and all other living things. This is the key to ridding the many psychological ailments such as depression, anxiety and addiction that is pervasive in our societies.
To be grateful takes discipline and it takes commitment. Most of us will need to retrain our brains to focus on only the positive. It requires time and being gentle with ourselves when we stray, so that we can come back to a place of gratitude without judgement of our negative behaviors. This practice, I promise you, is the secret to a happy life. It is also the secret to curing the world of its sick addiction to greed and wanting more and more. I also encourage you to get out of your comfort zone to see how others who are less fortunate are using the incredibly little they have to create a dignified life. It may just be the most life-changing experience you’ll ever have.
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