My thanks to Zoe for the challenge of an Editorial.
Gratitude is a powerful thing, lauded by many as a practice worth adhering to in order to focus our minds and hearts on the better things in life. Doing so changes nothing bar our attitude – whatever tribulations or moments of incandescent happiness we are to be afforded by our path, they will still happen – but in focussing on the sweeter moments, we commit to fortifying our spirit with Goodness; Loveliness; Nobleness; Worthiness; so enabling ourselves to continue without grumbling.
Or, at least, with less grumbling.
Because grumbling, for all its relative innocence when compared to bigger flaws of character (malice, lying, gossiping), is deceptively poisonous. It pervades, almost unnoticed, uniting people with a common gripe – encouraging the venting of displeasures, the airing and sharing of Things Gone Wrong and the bonding of Badness.
It might be the gentle permissiveness of the grumble, which rapidly snowballs from a tiny whinge; a beacon which draws people to try to out-do with increasingly larger grumbles, spinning out into a downward slope of negativity, dragging everyone with it, until the mood is decidedly stormy as everyone turns inwards, focussed on the blots of their life’s landscape, only stopping to take wicked pleasure when someone else’s problems are worse.
Once turned inward to the darkness, we brood. We are innately programmed with a sense of justice and a healthy (?) entitlement complex to the ‘good’ life we feel we deserve, and when we dwell on the ways our expectations aren’t being met, we can become bitter.
Bitterness is bad enough, but the effects can become more dangerous still – whilst consumed with our own displeasures, we forget to look outwards to other people. We neglect our duties to our fellow man, sometimes going as far as to take vicious pleasure in denying them our help and support; after all, why should we? Who’s helping us? And with this wilful plunge into self-indulgent darkness, compassion withers and begins to fade.
Compassion – the milk of human kindness – the attitude which connects us for good, with shining, golden threads of love, bringing peace and soothing the hurts because, both in giving and receiving it, we remember that we belong to one another.
”Children (and adults) who receive kindness, gentleness, warmth and compassion are, compared with those who don’t, more confident and secure, happier and less vulnerable to mental and physical health problems……….Receiving kindness, gentleness, warmth and compassion improves our immune system and reduces the levels of stress hormones…..helps us to feel soothed and settled and is conducive to good sleep… like basic vitamins for our minds……..
….. so from the very first hours of our lives right through to our last moments, kindness, gentleness, warmth and compassion are the things that can sustain us and help us bear the setbacks, tragedies and suffering that life will rain on us”.
– P.Gilbert. The Compassionate Mind
Compassion can alter our very physiology, filling us and enabling us to reach out to others who have been mired by life; sharing the strength we’ve been given and cascading it onwards, proliferating (the more we actively engage in it) and unleashing a torrent of caring, of the mindful uplifting of other people, until we are all raised beyond the tribulations of life, in spirit at least.
With a robust spirit comes our capability. Our strength, no longer attempting to go it alone, laden with pain and grumbling, is upheld and renewed with the vigour afforded by those who treat us with compassion.
Life might throw more than we can manage, at times, but if, in those times, we can reach out and find our hand grasped not by one or two, but many, we will flourish.
We will prevail because we have compassion, and we have each other.
― Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness
Ten Things of Thankful
1. For Mother’s Day flowers, which in spite of the tears they triggered, reminded me I am grateful for the ways I have been changed by the experience of ‘Invisible Motherhood’
2. For Neff to hide behind, and his ear to nibble on, inciting giggles and distraction as the restaurant owner brought chocolate gifts for “all the mums”, leaving two (for Mum and Sis) as I told him there were two, even as Husby voiced “three…”
3. For sunshine and bright skies and warmth and the smell of fresh earth and green things growing.
4. For challenges to combat the darkness and focus on somehow finding the good inside myself – to acknowledge its existence (first and foremost) and to fortify it with positive input.
5. For friends who send surprise stories to brighten my morning, and who devise ingenious ways of making me laugh out loud and hard, making them my Favourite At Breakfast. And for vlogs, which make my WEEK sparkle.
6. For permission to write as I wished, having completed my tasks at work, as long as I was quiet and kept myself entertained and out of the way as we undergo a computer-system overhaul.
7. For the inspiration somehow generated by my Muse, for the stories I’ve created and the characters who have now ‘walked off the pages’ and are busy gearing themselves for the next adventure (hopefully all the way to a publishing house) – oh, and I’ve relented; there’ll be a little more to come soon.
8. For friends who surprise me by writing to me with their dreams so that I can turn them into something more (watch this space: in fact, watch out for A-Z’s letter G – my Guest Post, coming soon)
9. For the discovery that financial ineptness on my part can sometimes result in boon, boosting my Tour of America from ‘delightful pipe-dream’ to ‘achievable possibility’, and for the generosity of Husby, who’s letting me keep most of it to make this dream come true.
10. For WonderAunty having sent the Archangel to clean our house (her name for the House-Boy, who is a man, who is AMAZING, and I came home to a gorrrrgeous sparkly home, and a faint feeling of shame at how it had been before…)
And for so much more.