By Darshan Kaur
My journey to gratitude began when I worked in the Sikh Dharma Dasvandh office and wanted to test-drive some of Yogi Bhajan’s quotes on prosperity. Yogi Bhajan talked a lot about gratitude and, frankly, though I think it’s an overused term in today’s vocabulary, his quotes inspired me to learn about gratitude so I could understand his inspiration for gratitude as a path to prosperity.
I think that gratitude is all about the experience of it, not the words about it. Gratitude doesn’t appear only when things are going great, when everything is aligned to the way we want it, or when we get what we want. I have found more and more that it comes from a deep well of love from within.
Over time, I have experienced gratitude for ‘wrong’ decisions, for a way of life that was in some ways very conscious and in other ways completely oblivious, for doing the unexpected, or for sitting with the processes that happen for me with life. It didn’t happen immediately, but what I found was the less attached I was to what ‘I’ thought was right, and the more accepting I was that maybe it was my thoughts that were in the way of my happiness and not that I wasn’t getting my way, I could begin finding gratitude in nearly every situation.
For a lost friend, I could be grateful for the years we had together; for other loss, I could be grateful for learning that ‘pushing’ doesn’t work for me and that I do far better when things flow into place; for a lost job and harder times, I could be infinitely grateful to learn to live more consciously, especially when it came to THINGS. Not everyone’s journey is the same, of course, but the more I moved away from the idealism of consumerism (to buy just for the sake of buying), the easier it was to sort out what I was grateful for.
So one year, instead of getting upset about Black Friday, I let go of the thoughts about what anyone else would do on the day after Thanksgiving, and decided my personal campaign for me would be 40 days of gratitude. I am a strong proponent for writing out what you are grateful for. On my birthday I start the day with 100 things I am grateful for, and in darker times I have done this practice daily. But I wanted a practice that was easier to do every day, ongoing, and I wanted to change the habit of focusing on all the things I wasn’t grateful for. So – 40 days, 10 things a day I was grateful for, and it would be from Thanksgiving Day until New Year’s Day.
Well, that was a couple years ago; I haven’t stopped and what a joy it has been to go through the natural ups and downs of life looking through the lens of, “What am I going to write in my gratitude list tonight?” It changed my perspective completely. All day long I seek the things I want to put in my daily gratitude list, and that means that for the largest part of the day, my mind is being grateful. On days when I’m not feeling so hot, or struggling to find perspective in the events of life, I still write my list. I began finding gratitude for all the things I was taking for granted: the way the light danced off the leaves, the playfulness of the dog, silence, the goodness in people’s hearts that I bore witness to again and again, and so much more.
The biggest change, however, has been in finding joy in this moment, exactly the way it is. Instead of a mind searching for things to be grateful for, I am a being consumed with gratitude and deciding which, of all the things I am grateful for, to list each day. By opening my heart to the possibility of beauty and wonder in each moment, I find it, and the celebration of gratitude has become as natural as breathing in and out.
I invite you to find the gratitude practice that works for you, to try it on for 40 days. I especially encourage you to find something that works so well that you want to keep doing it every day, because living gratitude is so much more than just remembering to be grateful now and then. To experience gratitude is to experience this moment as perfect over and over again. Gratitude is as much a part of our personal discipline and practice as doing a great yoga set, saying a prayer, or meditating, and it’s worth the investment of time because it directly feeds the healthy, happy and holy part of life that wants celebrating—every day, all the time.
If you’d like to join our Daily Gratitude facebook group, please private message me on facebook (facebook.com/mydarshan).
Darshan Kaur Jessop worked for Sikh Dharma International for 11 years, first as the Deputy Chief of Staff and then as the Director of Dasvandh. She is a happy mom, writer, musician, and entrepreneur and working on Project Urban Greenhouse. She is the co-creator of Aquarian Wisdom Calendars. Darshan Kaur can be contacted at: [email protected]