Extract from “The Gratitude Papers”: forthcoming book
I am sitting at the bus stop, reading a great book on my Kindle. Out of the corner of my consciousness I register a whooshing sound. It is not my bus and I need not stop reading but I do. The reason is the only tram service in town is pulling into the market square. I find this tram unbelievably pleasing. I love the sound it makes; I love the way it glides with grace throughout the town; I love its uniqueness; and I love the thought about the beautiful little villages it will visit as it climbs above the town and into the mountains.
I could have continued to read. That too brings me pleasure and is happening in the moment, yet I stopped as I knew that spending time thinking about the tram; being in deep appreciate and gratitude for the tram, would create a beautiful feeling in me. I know what brings me pleasure by allowing my focus (and thus my thinking) to rest upon them. I try to allow them time in my life, when I am conscious enough to remember.
Walking can be a prime example of this. For me to walk into town, there are numerous routes. Some are fast and direct and others are more leisurely. In a bad mood, when I am caught up in the chaos in my head, I strike out for my destination without thinking about the route. I don’t need to see beauty as I am fully occupied with the soap opera/horror show in my head. I can barely bring myself into the physical plane to safely cross the road, let alone appreciate the beautiful carvings above the doorway of the house opposite.
This is a warning sign: of unconsciousness; of being trapped in thinking which creates and feeds a black mood; of coming out of the state of grace, gratitude and appreciation.
When I have a clearer mind, I am more discerning about the route that I chose. I will allow a little more time to walk into town, I will take a left at the end of the street so I can walk passed the park and admire its huge trees. When I have enough awareness, I will actively pick beauty over a fume-filled busy street: I know what floats my boat and I chose to put my attention there. So if a tram pulls into the stop, I will spend a few moments in thinking about the joys of the tram and rest in the feeling that creates. Yum.
What floats your boat? How can you, as often as you can, place your attention on those things, places and people. Look at your choices that you make every day; how you turn left rather than right; how you look at the ugliness on the street, rather than the beauty – shift to admiration of what floats your boat, or discover what does.
Extract from “The Gratitude Papers” forthcoming book