But, to find gratitude we grapple. We need to pause and ponder. We need books to assist us, religion to remind us how blessed we are, we even have a holiday to help us reconnect to the thankfulness we have disconnected from during the year.
Carl Jung termed this negative seeking side in our psyche "Schadenfreude"meaning pleasure in sadness; (the German language captures such profoundness in their compound words! ). Eckhard Tolle says we are all too attached to "the pain body"; the side of us that is invested in our physical and emotional discomforts. In Buddhism, it is said that in life there is suffering and in our illusory minds we are attached to that suffering.
I say, we are not born that way. I've been around a lot of young children and I've never met a toddler who chooses sadness over happiness. Show a grumpy or hurt toddler a flower, an animal, a truck, and they are in awe, smiling radiantly at the wonders life offers. They connect to gratitude in an instant and their discomfort has been forgotten. True, life is uncomplicated at that age, but the point is we are born optimistic, with our glasses half full.
It stands to reason that we lose something in our maturing process. Or perhaps something infiltrates our original, optimistic outlook.
The Chinese people, I have been told, believed that if you complimented a baby/child, or you are too optimistic, the jealous Gods would hear your boast and ruin your plans, maim your child, and so forth. So they tuned their positive statements down, claimed the negative instead, to trick the Gods.
Our culture has a similar attitude about optimism and gratitude. We don't like to "count our chickens before they hatch". We try not to appear too content so others won't begrudge our contentedness.
It's a confusing relationship we have with thankfulness. Only at the aforementioned moments are we supposed to tap that window glass to admire it. We must keep it at arms length. Yet, we all feel so good when we are thankful.
Dr. Masaru Emoto, a Japanese Doctor did research on water crystals and emotions. Astonishingly, he found that the microscopic crystalline structure of water changed when different emotional energy surrounded the water. (For more information, see What the Bleep do we Know!?)
The most beautiful crystalline shape was created when gratitude and love surrounded the water.
Shifting our perception onto the things that are working in our life and unplugging our attention from the things that aren't working is a common practice in counseling. It can be transformative.
Without the darkness we wouldn't recognize the light, but let's not give the darkness all the attention. Try turning to the light instead and embrace gratitude.
"In the activites of the mind, keep optimistic - even when everything goes wrong. Turn thy face to the light and the shadows fall behind "- Edgar Cayce