Cicero said “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others”
I went to visit a friend recently. There were others there and one young parent started expressing her frustration at not being able to discipline her pre-teens daughter. Her daughter was not appreciating all the work she put in as a parent and constantly complaining about things she didn’t have, would not listen to her and would throw a tantrum easily whenever she was not getting her way. As is common among parents across the globe, “Children who don’t listen” is a topic that can unleash a huge discussion and general agreement on how most kids today are fussy, undisciplined and overly demanding. As a counsellor, and as a parent myself, almost every time, I have noted that a series of complaints and difficulties faced by young parents gets listed. Almost everyone has their share of troubles to add, seemingly in competition to show who is worst off amongst the lot. I thought: “Human tendency- to start complaining the minute we have an open window to do so…”
Observing these parents quietly, listening and wondering how seemingly most enjoyed talking about their woes, I noticed that not one of them was really focussing on a solution. Another thought that crossed my mind was that in the discussion the blame is everywhere else except on any of the parents personally- peer pressure, schools, grandparents, teachers …everyone but themselves. “Another human tendency”, I quickly noted, “we run from accepting responsibility for our troubles and gladly blame circumstances or others for them”.
I was still mulling over these thoughts when my friend- who is a pranic healer and an avid follower of Buddhism- shared a small experience. It was her daughter’s birthday and she had made a list of ten things she wanted from the market. They went shopping and found everything on the list but one item. After looking for it in a couple of shops, this friend told her daughter to make do without it-after all, she already had nine of ten things. The child, barely 7 years of age, simply threw all the other nine things on the road stating that she didn’t care about those but wanted the tenth item! The first reaction of the mother was to reprimand the child for bad behaviour- and she asked her to be grateful for the nine things she had found rather than crib and cry for the one little thing she hadn’t found. As she said that, it dawned on her that the child was simply reflecting her own life- she had various things in life to be grateful for (at that point she was able to count exactly nine- almost as if in resonance with the nine items bought by her daughter), but of late one relationship in her life was not working out too well. Instead of focusing on or feeling grateful for the other nine that were going well, she had started focusing only on that one thing that wasn’t going too well and as a result, even the others had started deteriorating. She realised in that instant that her daughter’s behaviour was in fact a reminder for her own self to learn to focus on what was there rather than crib for what wasn’t. She had learnt something extremely important through that incident. She ended her story by stating that our children reflect what we are-when we forget to focus on what’s important, how can we expect our kids to do that? When we start complaining, why won’t our children do so as well? When we can be ungrateful for the blessings in our life, was it right for us to expect the younger ones to be otherwise? Children don’t “listen” as much as they “observe”.
The fact that in our lives we see what we create is something that we have heard many a times. So what my friend had just recounted held true not only for children but for our whole life and everyone we meet: Our life is basically a mirror of our own selves.
I wonder how many of us will learn something from this story. For me, two things emerged: the importance of inner reflection and the importance of appreciation and gratitude for what we have. If we just look closely at ourselves, we will be able to discover the root cause of many troubles easily. If we are grateful for what we have, we will receive even more to be grateful for, on the other hand if we start focussing on troubles, we may end up losing what we have.
How many of us express gratitude for the small things in life, how many of us truly appreciate all that we have instead of running after what we don’t have? How many are too busy paying attention to and sulking or complaining about what others have? Every day we come across people who are complaining of one thing or the other- about how life has treated them harshly or about how they would be happier if they had more things. How often do we stand in front of the mirror and wish we had better hair, or skin or height or eyes or weight….and exactly how many times do we look at ourselves in the mirror and feel grateful for what we do have? How many of us focus our thoughts on the good in others rather than on their faults? How many of us take responsibility for our own lives? So many of us miss out on the simple joys and pleasures of life because we are too busy running after what we don’t have. Of course this does not mean that one should not strive to follow one’s dreams, however, I think that as we rush to our destinations, it is equally important to also stop by and smell the rain, admire the flowers on the way and simply express gratitude for being alive.
Gratitude is like a key that opens the doors to receiving more and more. Master Choa Kok Sui, my spiritual guru, always taught us to invoke for blessings and thank God and the Higher beings for the blessings even before we actually received them- he would always start his invocation with “Thank you for blessing us with…..” According to him, when we thank in advance, we automatically open the path for it to manifest and materialise.
It is not HAPPY people who are thankful;
It’s THANKFUL people who are happy!!
He also spoke about our life being a reflection of our own deeds. We need to assume responsibility for what we find in our life, take proper action when required and simply do our best. The rest falls into place on its own. If the parents who were so quick to complain about their kids had spent a little time reflecting on their own behaviours, perhaps some of them would have found that their children’s behaviour was, in part, a result of their own behaviour and the solution to most of those complaints also lay in their own hands.
One of my favourite quotes from my teacher is-
“The easiest way to predict our own future is to create it”
Master Choa Kok Sui
I made up my mind to start thanking God, the Universe and the Powers that Be for the simple little things I have- and as I started mentally ticking off the list, I realised how much I had to be grateful for in life- suddenly all the troubles that were there seemed a lot less daunting. Another immediate feel-good factor was that I felt a lot lighter in my heart. I resolved once more to try and complain a lot lesser for things that were not going too well.
If we can all follow these simple rules, our lives will be so much better
– To accept that our lives are a reflection of ourselves and work towards creating what we dream for.
– To look for solutions for our problems in our own lives instead of blaming others
– To make a note of all the wonderful things-however small- that we have and be thankful for them.
– To appreciate what we have rather than complain about what we don’t have and more importantly, we must not lose what we do have trying to chase what we don’t.
I thanked my friend for sharing her experience- it certainly reiterated some of the teachings we know but at times fail to put to practice.
Mentally I thanked Master Choa for his simple yet powerful teachings that I see reflected in every little experience of my daily life. Yes Master! Thank You Master!
With deep gratitude, tremendous respect and lots of love…