Extreme Gratefulness – A Perfect Life Lived in the Supreme State of Thanks
Part 1 of a series on gratitude
by DeBrady (started 2/26/05, edited for blogpost 10/15/12)
Wait, you say, how can life ever be perfect? Things happen, people and situations annoy you–sometimes constantly, usually on a daily basis, so how can you be grateful for every moment of everyday? Impossible, you say. And, if that’s how you have come to experience your life, you probably won’t be disappointed!
Life is a series of experiences. We identify the experience as good, bad or neutral. However, like everything else in our life, this too is a learned response to “external” events. I emphasize external since this is also a way that we’ve learned to identify with the world around us.
Someone cuts you off in traffic, what do you do–how does that make you feel? If you’re first impulse is to curse at the other driver, even react in a more overt way–like honking your horn or behaving in an aggressive way–you are not actually angry at the other person, you’re angry at yourself. Hogwash, you say. I am not immune to this initial reaction, few of us are Buddha or Christ, but it is possible to go within and discover the true root of our externalized anger and frustration.
No one would hold it against a tiny, new-born infant for fussing and crying for what–to us–may seem like nothing. We, as adults, realize that crying is the natural response for an infant who is hungry, tired, uncomfortable or wet. Most mothers–and some fathers–could tell you what cry goes with what need. But, as we mature we learn to better articulate our needs.
Somewhere between that infantile stage and adulthood, we are socialized, based on the culture and environment we mature in. This is why it is more difficult to go to a different place from where we’ve grown up, the older we get. Usually this is less pronounced within a country, but even this is more dependent upon how culturally homogeneous a country is–or not. The U.S. is fairly homogeneous. Sure, there are differences between regions–the South is still different from the North; Texas and California seem to be different from their respective state-neighbors–but basically they all identify themselves as Americans.
Other countries, likely Afghanistan and China, have greater differences within their boundaries. Needless to say, this can be a source of social dissonance. Social dissonance is the leading cause of war and fighting. If we could eliminate it, the world would be a more peaceful place indeed. But, how does this relate to making your life more perfect? Simple, you are a microcosm of the world. You fight minor skirmishes on an almost daily basis. This is from the lack of gratefulness, both on the part of the individual and society at-large.