2011 is a tough year, with palpable stress and fear in the air; recovery expectations dashed; bad news, night after night; and human suffering reaching new depths in Japan and the Middle East. All of this is occurring in an environment of chaos and ever-increasing distractions. New challenges, problems and tasks being added daily to lists already impossibly long.
It may be shocking to read words like these coming from Mrs. Best Year Yet, but these realities have affected all of us, including me. And sometimes it felt like it has affected me especially. Here I am, working in the business 24/7, way past retirement age, and the stress of years of working this hard finally erupted this year in scary pain and health issues -- for both Tim and me. We have had our home on the market for two and a half years, having long since said goodbye to that nest egg strategy, while we've struggled through months of low sales, waiting for our new Best Year Yet online software to take off. Will we ever be able to stop?
I don't ever remember having a fear that took the breath out of me and sometimes brought clutching chest pains. Then last November I broke my foot, leaving the emergency room on crutches!
In the midst of all this, I couldn't find my way, and nothing seemed to work. I
was lost in the pit of self-pity and didn't even know it. I've always believed in miracles, but the well was dry.
Then one day I overheard my lifelong friend Sally talking about a conversation she'd recently had with friends. Someone had asked the question, "What's the source of miracles?" A deep discussion followed and they reached a profound conclusion. The source of miracles is gratitude.
The light came on. That's the truth, and I've always known it. But knowing something is one thing, and living it is another.
Yes, I'd been expressing gratitude daily in my meditation, and I'd been feeling glimpses of connection with my true self. But too often I climbed back on the pity pot as soon as
I returned to my day.
But hearing her words, I began to see that gratitude means far more than saying thanks and counting my blessings from time to time. I've done my best at acknowledging people for what they do and who they are because I know that most of us feel unappreciated and unrecognized for how much we give at work and at home. We hate that part of ourselves, but it's there, isn't it.
So if merely being thankful isn't enough, what is? Slowly, I began to see that what's required is living in gratitude. But here's the rub: It's not enough to be grateful if I do so in pursuit of the miracles I hope will come as a result.
The secret is authentic and heart-felt gratitude for what I have, living in appreciation of the blessings that already are, not wanting more, and living in abundance now. Not expressing appreciation and gratitude for blessings because of the benefits of doing so. The truth is that there is so much for me to be grateful for now. And that truth overpowers everything that's happening now in each of our lives.
If you've read my book,"Your Best Year Yet!" you may remember that Tim and I go out for dinner every Friday and spend the meal taking turns toasting miracles that have happened in the past week. We've often said that our Friday Night Miracles habit is the source of our sanity and the incredible results we've achieved in our 32 years together. But even those moments of gratitude had not been spilling over into the rest of the week.
Since the light came on when I heard my friend's story, its glow has been becoming brighter every day. My thinking is focused on gratitude, and my ability to let go of fear, judgment, worry and resentment is getting stronger every day. I wake up faster and faster and let go more and more quickly of thoughts and assumptions that take me back into the dark, black hole where everything is awful and things are hopeless. Finally and incredibly, I have come to a place where it really doesn't matter if things don't change. I am so, so lucky!
And, believe it or not, when I was halfway through writing this article and had just finished writing the words, "The source of miracles is gratitude," Tim came to me and asked if he could interrupt me for a minute. He said, "If you'll sign this document, the sale of our home is firm, and we're closing a week from Tuesday".
If it has taken these difficult times to force us to remember to be grateful for what we have and who we are, above all and every day. Every painful and fearful minute has been more than worth it.
Is it possible to dissolve fear? Yes. Please try it. Fear and gratitude can't co-exist.