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"Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation." - Brian Tracey
Thanksgiving is the season when we officially acknowledge the virtue of gratitude. It is interesting to note that the pilgrims made seven times more graves than homes, yet they created this holiday in special recognition of all that they had to be thankful for.
Brian Tracy's statement agrees with my own beliefs that there are no mistakes and that everything happens for a reason. Given these truths, what can possibly happen in our lives for which we are not grateful? Just because we don't understand the benefit of whatever befalls us at the time does not mean there is no benefit. It's just an opportunity for us to open our eyes, our ears, our hands, and wait.
Recently, I have wanted a new office that was closer to my home and better suited to my needs; but for the longest time, I was unable to find it. I was renting space from a friend, but the office was far from my house and had constraints and prohibitions that made no apparent sense for me. After several months without success, I began to affirm: "The perfect office is looking for me now. It fulfills all my needs and desires, and is at a price I can easily afford."
I didn't mention our search for a new location to my friend, but then the "worst" happened: Things became strained between us when she accepted a client who was an adversary of one of my clients. In the course of the case, our basic differences in approach to the practice of family law became apparent, and our bank of good will was exhausted. One day, when I refused to yield a point during a deposition, she escorted me to the common area and asked me to move out of her office. Two days later, she changed the locks. I was angry at this statement, embarrassed by her unkindness, and grieved at the loss of her friendship. What to do? I cried; I went home, and affirmed again: "The perfect office is looking for me now. It fulfills all my needs and desires, and is at a price I can easily afford." Then I had a glass of champagne and went dancing.
The very next day I found a beautiful, larger office just minutes from my home! Even better, it cost me about half what my friend had charged, with more services included. A week later, set up in my new office, it was hard to recall that seven days earlier I was crying about the way my "friend" and I had parted.
Helen Keller once said that when God closes one door, He opens a window, but that most of us are so busy looking at the closed door that we fail to see the window. Having an attitude of gratitude is the cure for this kind of limited thinking.
Thomas Edison called problems "opportunities in work clothes." And so they are. But because of our own inertia; a body at rest tends to remain at rest while a body in motion tends to remain in motion, we usually must be dragged kicking and screaming to our good. Being grateful allows us to see the door to the opportunity that awaits us, and gives us the faith to knock on it. This is what I call the Law of Gratitude.
In my law practice, I often see people who need to get divorced, but they resist it because the hell that they know is safer to them than the potential heaven that they don't know. To resist change is human nature; it is also counterproductive.
Les Brown, my friend and mentor, used to tell the story of a woman who called him up crying, and said, "They laid me off from my job!" Les replied, "But didn't you tell me you hated that job? They didn't lay you off. They released you to find your good."
To allow the law of gratitude to work in our own experience, we need to become quiet and observe what is really going on when a problem comes. Gratitude releases us from the need to criticize ourselves or blame others for causing the difficulty that confronts us. This need only muddies the waters, and prevents us from seeing what is actually before us. In this way, we deceive ourselves, and lock ourselves into the situation.
Once we release the need to criticize or blame, we can take a good look at what is happening. Of course, major upheavals do come. Like a forest fire, sweeping the countryside and destroying things in its path. On the surface, it seems like a tragedy.
In fact, however, all of this apparent destruction is simply evidence of the abundant well-being that is a constant on our planet. Upheaval is the Earth's way of seeking its balance. The fire will add much needed nutrition to the soil. New seeds will germinate and thrive. The animals that have lost their homes will easily find new ones elsewhere. Over time, the amazing value of this fire becomes apparent when the new growth is seen.
And so it is with the fires that rage in our own lives.
When I look back at the process that led to my new office, I see that everything that happened was exactly what needed to occur in that moment to move me toward an even happier, better place in life. Whereas I was initially unsettled, confused; afraid and angry for the way my friend treated me, I am grateful now. I am grateful for the times we shared together. Likewise, I am grateful for the incentive she gave me to move quickly to the next phase of my life; and of course, I am grateful for a new office that fulfills all of my needs and desires, at a price I can easily afford.
What forest fires, earthquakes or floods are raging in your life right now? At this time of gratitude, why not be thankful that God is helping you find the balance in your life, and the peace He offers you? Why not open your eyes and see the eternal well-being that is constantly occurring? You are a part of this design. Why not affirm it?
If the smoke is so thick you cannot see; if the water is too overwhelming, then, for now, be quiet and trust. Trust, and be willing to see the unceasing flow of good that is coming into your life. No matter how far afield life seems to take you, this trip is necessary. All is well and you are safe.