In Hawaiian shamanism there is a little twist on the idea of an attitude of gratitude, which is: that which you bless increases–anything you bless, appreciate or acknowledge. If you see beautiful flowers and say a blessing for the lovely sight you increase your likelihood of seeing beauty or your sense of blessing. If a friend does something nice for you and you express your appreciation for the deed, you increase the likelihood that you will have good, kind friends and/or your sense of being blessed.
It took me a little while to realize that it’s essentially different words for maintaining an attitude of gratitude. And the fundamental principle behind both is that, since like attracts like, if you’re maintaining an emotional state of thankfulness, blessing, appreciation, etc. you’re pretty much in a positive, upbeat space and that attracts more good.
Early on I tried to keep some sort of track of whether the specific thing I blessed increased although eventually I got the ridiculousness of trying to keep an account. I can say, though, that when I remember to say a blessing for every easy parking space or green light it does seem like I have an ongoing experience of easy parking or getting green lights. Mostly what I came to love about remembering to say a blessing or a “thanks” for everything is how great I feel when I consciously recognize the abundance of good stuff in my life.
As I mentioned in a previous post, my challenge has been to find something to bless or feel thankful for when I have a migraine or the unwinding muscles in my head have kept me awake for the third night in a row. I’ve learned to find that silver lining and, if I’m mindful, I can manage to find gratitude even in those times when things seem hard. The unwinding, for instance, means that my muscles are healing and the vice grip feeling in my head is on its way out, so I can concentrate on being happy for what the process is leading to instead of the painful part. I’m not always that mindful.
It may be the great challenge for all spiritual journeys. Whether you call it thankfulness, blessing or lovingkindness (or ….), success arrives when you can stay thankful or feel a state of grace no matter what. It’s the ability to step aside from your reaction when your boss just pushed your button—when you just found out your daughter is on drugs, when a tornado just damaged your house, when your head is pounding—and hang on to feeling you’re in a state of grace. When you feel blessed or thankful or even calm and centered through whatever life brings you’ve accomplished a major piece of the spiritual journey. Blessings to you all. I’m thankful you’re reading.