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Gratitude is like a muscle…

The more you use it, the stronger it grows.

Gratitude is like a muscle, even though sometimes you might think it is circumstantial. You see people’s lives and think “well it’s easy for them to feel grateful, they…”

  • have lots of money
  • are gorgeous
  • have kids
  • live somewhere beautiful
  • have a great job
  • have lots of friends

Gratitude is like a muscle...glass half full or half empty?

But that’s not how gratitude works. Many of those people above will have an overall grateful attitude and many of them won’t. It’s not circumstantial, it’s an inside job. Gratitude is an attitude to how we choose to view our world and our life and the moments in the day. Glass half full or glass half empty?

Gratitude is a habit…

…just like anger, worry, stress, guilt. If your default is anger, that’s a neural network that you’ve been working on for years. Your brain is set up, ready to fire and wire for that outcome at the drop of a hat. Therefore, situations that anger you are really easy to find – sometimes circumstantial, sometimes simply by bringing up a thought in your mind.

So with gratitude, just like a muscle, we’ve got to grow it! Grow that neural network. We’ve got to practice it over and over and over until our brain is ready to fire and wire down that pathway in the blink of an eye or the sparkle of a dew drop.

Like any habit, gratitude is a path a practice and a choice in every moment. Do you seek to cultivate gratitude no matter what? This doesn’t mean ignoring feelings of sadness, fear or disappointment. It’s not pretending to yourself and others that life’s always roses. We are human after all, and therefore we live a range of emotions. We need to acknowledge them, feel them and then let them move on. Can we create gratitude even for the more uncomfortable feelings? For the punch of anxiety that we feel in our stomach, sending us a message if we dare to listen?

Cultivating gratitude is about the small things.

The feel of a warm jumper on your skin when the cold Spring wind blows. The soft fur of your dog’s ears when you kiss their head. The feeling of a hot cup of tea in your hands when you’ve just been working in the garden. The smell of fresh herbs as you cut through them with your knife. That sweet moment you have to yourself, zero interruptions.

And the big things. The gratitude that you blinked your eyes in the last few seconds because you have these amazing eyes that can read and see. A warm bed to sleep in. Access to this fresh, clean water pouring out of the tap into your hands, or over your body.

Gratitude is like a muscle…

People who are generally grateful and see the world through rose-tinted glasses aren’t lucky. Just like someone with a strong, fit body isn’t lucky. Both of those took dedication, commitment and the vision for something that they chose to cultivate.

Gratitude isn’t a luxury, it’s simply a life-enhancing habit that you can begin right this moment. What can you be grateful for right now?

And now?

Notice what it feels like in your body, memorise this feeling, and then practice it. Every day. Moment to moment.

See what comes from it…

xxx

Good-bye sweet Olive…

Olive, when you and Snowy unexpectedly came into our life five years ago at 2 weeks old, we were not prepared for the love and joy you would bring us. You guys were so small and cute, and when you drank your goats’ milk in the evening it was one of the most adorable sights I’ve ever seen.

You two have lived such an amazing life really. Inside at night, kicked out under the couch with pellets and then into the backyard during the day to live a little like wild bunnies – grazing, digging tunnels and making nests in the long grass.

When you were six months old another creature joined us, Millie the fluffy border collie pup, to annoy you and attempt to herd you even though you were all the same size. Now she’s grown up and thinks she’s part bunny. Then another year or so later a brindle rescue, Tino, joined the clan.

But most of all, what always got me, literally every day, was the love between you and Snowy. I have never seen a bond like that between animals and it filled my heart up with so much love every time I witnessed it in its different forms. Grazing on the lawn, bum to bum, black on white. In your sand pit asleep, spooning each other. Under the couch or the table, your little legs kicked out behind you, top to tail. Our own little yin yang display every day. Sidling up to one another, and usually you getting busy licking Snowy’s head or ears. She always hopped up to you and jammed her little head under yours so that you would groom her. Then after a while you’d stop and she’d give you a good licking back. My heart melted with the deepest of joys in those many moments no matter how I had been feeling.

I saw first-hand just how much all creatures need companionship. And in the crazy emotions of being human, I occasionally thought, how can these two ever live without each other? There were moments I dreaded you ever being parted. When we learned that bunnies can die of a broken heart, we decided we needed an ‘insurance’ bunny in case that day ever came. The first rescue didn’t work out because I didn’t have the energy to do the time-consuming process of bonding, and since little Speckle was another female it made it trickier. She found heaven on earth though at my parents’ farm…queen of the garden and fields, free ranging with treats off the deck in the evening.

Then two years ago another rescue came into our life by chance, big Bugs, a real Peter Rabbit. He was going to be temporary while we found him a home, but his lovable temperament won us over quickly, plus it seemed that the three of you would get on okay. Except for the constant humping and him spraying wee on you girls in the early days – Snowy stinky with orange drops all over her by the evenings! Once he was neutered though, and the hormones subsided we were able to have all three of you in the run together outside and so an ‘insurance’ bun was born.

You were one of the sweetest creatures I’ve ever had the privilege of being guardian of. I’ll never forget the first time you came up to my face when I was lying on the carpet and began licking my cheeks. Then you did it to Harlan’s forehead a few days later, and next it extended to Millie and Tino. Millie’s long hair was a bit of a challenge for you, but no problem, you used your teeth to comb her. Tino’s short spikey hair was easy, and even though Millie was always unsure of the process, Tino quite enjoyed it. Every time you would come up to me and start licking my leg, or arm or face, my heart literally flooded over with so much love. And as the years have gone one, you’ve become more and more affectionate.

Olive at about two months.

I didn’t dream the day for an ‘insurance’ bun would come so soon and so suddenly. On Saturday morning I was videoing you busily munching the fallen apple leaves, before I left for sleepover with a friend, and on Sunday morning you left this world as we know it. I wasn’t here, but you were in good hands and I am so glad that it was very quick. Maybe your big, sweet loving heart just had loved enough and it was time for the next realm for you?

And now as I sit here writing this, my heart is sore but so full with all the love and joy and enrichment you brought us. I’m looking out the window to little Snowy, with Bugs, but with no yang to her yin, and the tears are flowing down my cheeks. Of course I’m anthropomorphising, imagining what the loss might be like for her, but she’s okay, and she’s got us all and of course big Bugs, and I know you are around us in spirit.

This morning as I pulled of my eye mask after meditating, having been with you in visions, I looked up into the lounge and saw Snowy busily grooming Bugs’ ears. Then he lifted his head and gave her a few licks on her forehead, and I let the tears flow. I know she’ll be okay, and I know you are more than okay, but I miss you sweet girl, and I take in my heart all the beautiful lessons of love, pure joy and living in the moment that you taught me over and over and over again.

Thank you for your soft sweetness.