Updated: Jan 31, 2021
House of Goddess Chandi
(a Lalita Chandika Temple)
Week Five: The Silver Lining and Creating Space
Welcome to week five of the Gratitude Challenge. Wow! You made it to the last challenge! Congratulations!
But you aren't finished yet. This is last challenge and it is an important one.
This week we’re going to be talking about the power of ALWAYS being able to find something to be grateful for and how to interrupt habitual patterns that put you into a negative state.
This is a lesson in practicing mindfulness and breaking bad habits, so it will be challenging, but will pay off big dividends. Keep reading....
It may seem like a trite, cliché phrase, but there truly is ALWAYS a silver lining to every situation.
In other words, in every situation, there is something to be grateful for. Yes, even the hard, challenging situations.
Just to gain perspective on this, think back to when you were a young child, or in grade school. Do you recall something that you thought was just a complete disaster or really broke your heart? You know, something that you thought was going to ruin your life if you didn't get your way or your wish.
Step back there for a moment and think how you thought back then. Now, look at that very same moment in time from a new perspective - from the perspective of where you are today.
Has anything shifted? Do you kind of laugh about what you thought was so important back then? From your more mature perspective today, can you see how the event may have opened new doors for you? Can you see how limited life may have been had it allowed you to cling to your desire? Can you see the benefit of letting go? This is the power of perspective.
Here is a good example of noticing the good in the most difficult of situations. Several spiritual teachers have talked about the Sept 11, 2001 incident in New York. Certainly the tragedy created massive trauma and suffering at both the personal and collective levels. But through the tragedy, an overwhelming number of Americans softened their hearts and became more loving, more compassionate, and more giving in nature.
This is an example of noticing how something which is inherently bad actually creates something good. In other words, this is the wisdom that the bad is in service to the good.
So each one of us actually does have the ability to be grateful for things even in the midst of difficult situations.
By considering how our perspectives change through time and by understanding that the bad serves the good, we are armed with the wisdom that sets apart the most grateful people from everyone else.
If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.
~Rabbi Harold Kushner
I know we have discussed how to handle difficult situations in earlier lessons, but in this week's challenge we will dive into how to manage the difficulties a bit more so that we interrupt any negative thought patterns.
If you want to grow into a truly, overwhelmingly grateful person, this is the last skill you must master. You must learn the fine art of seeing good things in every situation you encounter.
This week we are going to be noticing negative "triggers". What is a negative trigger? It is when something external* to you happens that gives you a rush of energy that causes you to react emotionally (out of habit) and typically has a physical effect of tightening muscles, gritting teeth, closing heart etc.
* note: the trigger can be simply a thought of something happening. It is does not have to be a real situation.
Once the trigger hits, you will have a habitual response to it. For example, you could go into defense mode, you can go into victim mode where you blame the other, you can go into self deprecation, etc.
It is one thing to become aware of the trigger and it's initial impact on you. It is quite another thing to change the response, meaning, to not respond in a habitual way, but rather, to put a pause between the stimulous and the response so you can gather your wits about you.
When you pause and breathe, or even say a mantra, before responding you create the space and freedom to respond in a way that is positive and harmonious rather than aggressive, demanding, or self deprecating.
First, think about a difficult situation you’re currently experiencing.
Second, sit down with a piece of paper and reflect on the last time this experience was triggered. Write down the circumstances and how you responded. What happened to you emotionally, what happened physically to your body, and what did you do and say afterwards.
Third, envision a different response to the trigger. How would this different response have helped you create more harmony and peace in your environment?
Fourth, as you go through the week, write down all those things that are negative triggers. When you feel them, pause and breathe before responding. Try to change the response into one that has a positive outcome. How did it go? Did you get better as you practiced this more?
Don’t gloss over this lesson. Please reflect deeply on it. I think you’ll find that the more time you give to introspection, the more you’ll find your heart welling up with gratitude.
You’ll also begin to see that in EVERY situation, there is something good you can take from it!
That's the challenge for this week!
Join our Monday Gratitude Satsangh at 5:30 pm PST. (Zoom link below).
Reminder: Monday Night ZOOM call at 5:30 pm PST
Pushpa Saraswati is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Gratitude Challenge Week 5 February 1, 2021
Time: Feb 1, 2021 05:30 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
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