How to Practice Gratitude
Thich Nhat Hanh has been a great inspiration for millions of people across the globe. His rich publications, inspirational quotes, and his healing presence have all been important reminders for all.
He has directed us on the path to finding ourselves:
He has taught us to love again through the shadows of hate.
And he has given us reason to say two powerful words: Thank you.
Unfortunately, these two words are routinely (and often weakly) uttered after we have decades of practice. Fortunately though, there are many opportunities that exist each day to emphatically share these two powerful words. Not with the intention to change someone's life, but rather to take a moment in their life and yours to stop, look at them eye to eye, place a hand on their shoulder, and firmly say "Thank you." By doing so, we assuredly recognize the other person for who he/she is and the value he/she has in our life.
Acknowledgement of another human being raises awareness of the undeniable connection and relationship we all have with each other. Beyond acknowledging another human being, we can express our gratitude to the earth beneath our feet and to the heavenly space above us. Both of which provide us with everything we need in every moment of our life.
A study found in the NIH library states that "An existing body of research supports an association between gratitude and an overall sense of well being...". Sharing gratitude is an important step to a healthier you, a stronger community, and any loving relationship. Never forget the power of these two words when expressed with full intention. And just as important, never forget how to accept this acknowledgment for yourself, for when you thank another person, you are in fact thanking yourself for the very same reason. I thank you for reading.
Take a moment this coming Thanksgiving Holiday to practice sharing these two powerful words with someone in your life.
With sincerest gratitude,
Planting the Seed of Potential
The past is a seed that is planted in the present and grows into the future.
Yesterday, I met a group of friends, who also happen to be acupuncturists, over a delicious meal and good conversation. After not meeting with them for four months, I was reminded of the importance of having my own community of friends; to share our life stories, the current day-to-day happenings, and our visions of the world transforming into the ultimate living environment.
As I filled my mouth with extraordinary flavors of a savory Chinese beef dish, I held my cup of hot tea and listened to the friendly and inspiring conversation. My friend Brooks began to describe a moment from a course he teaches about the roots of the medicine our small group sitting at the table practices and shares in common. A student in his course, a native from China, began to declare at one point that his ability to speak English was "not very good". Brooks, drawing on some wisdom from his days in the same program, invited the student to change his declaration to one with more possibility: "My English is better than it was yesterday." This tiny shift in words has the potential to create a huge shift in the person speaking them. This sharing from my friend Brooks reminded me of the reason I recently shared something about my late grandmother (shared below).
When we live with the constant mindset of "I need to improve myself.", "My skills aren't quite where they need to be.", or "I'll NEVER be THAT good!", we bring ourselves to a screeching halt on the road of life's potential. If these kinds of phrases are running through your head or coming from your mouth, you have then exercised your ultimate ability to withhold yourself from experiencing your full potential. In essence, you've tightly tied a tourniquet around the moment in your life that comes just before the moments of tomorrow.
In moments of what we consider failure or areas of our lives where believe we are lacking in something, we must acknowledge all we have done up to that point. We should instead take a moment to reflect on what we've accomplished. It is important to understand that all of our actions we've taken were opportunities to learn from (just like the quote from Thomas Edison above). Repeating an action, like speaking English, gives us a chance to improve upon it each day.
We should be thankful for this seed, plant it with care, nurture it, and watch it grow into something magnificent. Every moment in our lives is important, valuable, and not to be considered wasted. I will leave you with the words I recently shared about a person who had great impact on who I am today; my grandmother.
Natural Acts of Kindness
As we approach the end of August, it is almost time to say our goodbyes to the summer season and open our welcoming arms to the breathtaking landscape of Autumn. You may notice as you walk outdoors that it seems the leaves on the trees are nearing the end of their time as their color shifts to a dark shade of green and they hang heavily from their branches towards the ground. Or you may notice in your garden a plethora of full-hearty produce begging for you to pluck it from its exhausted branches and vines.
This is the wonder of the harvest season. The season of abundance, of nourishment, of being nurtured, and of gratitude. This is a time in nature where we honor the richness of life and say thanks to all that has been offered in support of our growth and experience of life.
In your day to day life, how many times do you actually say THANK YOU to others and to yourself? When someone holds the door for you, do you say THANK YOU? How about when the metro brings you safely to your destination? Do you say, out loud or silently, THANK YOU?
How about the other way around? When was the last time YOU held the door for someone? When was the last time you randomly did something for someone else because you were feeling "in the mood"? Coming back to Mother Nature and the change of the seasons, we must remember that Mother Nature does not take a moment to think before she provides what is necessary for us and the rest of the world to survive, let alone thrive. She just does...and so should we.
What if Random Acts of Kindness were no longer Random? What if we considered them to simply be Natural Acts of Kindness? Moments of unconditional love and nurturing from ourselves to others; a moment of spoken or unspoken gratitude to another for simply being present in our life at this particular point in time, and above all, without judgment. Just as nature provides for us during this time, we should make the decision to act the same by sharing kindness to ourselves and others. No strings attached.
We should willingly bear fruit for the plucking and satisfaction of others.
When others can reap what you sow, you nurture another human and change them in ways you can't possibly imagine.
One final thought I leave you with is an opportunity. One that may change a person's life forever. The opportunity (or challenge, if you choose to view it as such) is to show at least one Natural Act of Kindness towards someone you don't know. But don't stop there. Notice how you feel afterwards, and notice how the other person responds. Cultivate this feeling in yourself and continue to spread it and plant it in other. Because, just as this season provides a harvest for us now, it also holds deep within itself the seeds for the next year's crop. You hold this same power, the "seeds" of kindness to be planted in the next generation.
Yours in peace,
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inspirational ideas on healthy living through eastern medicine, optimism, and possibility through empowerment.