2020 Grateful 11: Grateful Living

I was reminded recently of a 2017 interview between Oprah Winfrey and then 91-year-old Benedictine, Br David Steindl-Rast, whose TED Talk has racked up more than seven million views. In it, he says:

“Gratitude can change our world in immensely important ways, because if you’re grateful you’re not fearful, and if you’re not fearful you’re not violent. If you’re grateful you act out of a sense of enough and not of a sense of scarcity and you are willing to share.”

Like everything else, the science of gratitude is evolving. No more is it about giving thanks when something good or nice happens, it’s about being grateful for everything no matter what.

[…] lately I talk less about gratitude, but more about grateful living. Because when you speak about gratitude people often think, “Oh, yeah. When something nice happens, of course I’m grateful.” But grateful living is to be grateful at all times. At all times no matter what happens. And that means reaping the joy that comes from gratefulness at all times. Also in the midst of suffering.

While in conversation with Oprah, he talks about three steps necessary be becoming truly alive: stop, look, go.

Be present. Stop running around like blue-arsed flies (my words, not his) and take the time to be really present.

Look. Look closely at what’s happening and see the opportunity in it.

Go. Go after it, Grab it. Seize the day.

I watched the inteview again, and this time, what resonated with me most is a lesson that the world needs to learn, especially the divisive, polarised world we’re living in.

One of the aspects of loving your enemies is that you listen to them, you listen what are they saying.[,…] And then you say, “Maybe they are right.” For a moment you may think, “Maybe they’re right and not I.” So you check what your opinion is against their opinion.[…] That’s already a step forward. Then you look at the issue. That would be the real thing. Let’s together look at the issue and not at our preconceived notions. So you’re trying to get your enemies to look at the issues, not at their position.

The coming weeks are going to be difficult ones as the US Presidential elections affect not just the USA but the world. Also, protests in Hungary (SzFE), Poland (abortion bill), Bangladesh (French President Macron), Belarus (Lukashenko), and Italy (COVID) are seething examples of the angst that is simmering around the globe. Our opinions. Our politics. Our religious beliefs. All are black or white with grey becoming unacceptable. It seems like each comment made is parsed and analysed for its wokeness. I know I’m thinking not twice, but three or four times before I say anything. I’ve had to ratchet up the grateful living to countermand the growing fear that is embodied in the intolerance that has woven itself into our very core.

As I try to quell my growing unease, I’m grateful for the reminder that it’s issues I should be looking at, not positions. Thanks, RM.

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