Gratitude is a very important concept to me. I firmly believe that it is of the utmost importance to be grateful for everything, and that one must deeply *feel* gratitude as well as express it generously.
Of course I say thank you when someone gives me something or does something for me, no matter how simple or complex. My kid uses good manners — I say thank you for using good manners. Someone holds the door for me, I thank them for holding the door for me. But I also stop to respect the fact that fresh, clean water flows directly into my house whenever I want it. That´s miraculous, and I try not to take it for granted. So many people flip their lids if there´s a problem with the water (maybe a pipe broke, maybe a storm made the water undrinkable without boiling, etc…), but I´m grateful every single time I have the good fortune to turn on my faucet and have usable water come out. I´m also grateful to the people who make that possible–those who put the pipes in, those who work in the treatment plants, those who fix the leaks, those who test the water to make sure it´s safe. When you think about all of the work that goes into giving us clean water, you begin to realize how very fortunate we are! And that´s just one piece of our daily lives that, more often than not, works nearly flawlessly. Think of all of the things that go RIGHT for you on a regular basis!
But this is the part I´m having trouble with. Because I´m into holistic medicine, spirituality, and energy work, I´m trying to get into the habit of thanking everything I consume. Dr. Masaru Emoto did experiments with water. Long story short, he took samples of water from many different places, including polluted water. He had people think negative words and phrases toward some of the samples, and had other people think positive words, phrases, and prayers toward other samples. He then froze the samples and examined the ice crystals under a microscope. The samples that underwent the ¨negative treatment¨ were asymmetrical and ¨ugly,¨ while the samples that underwent the ¨positive treatment¨ were beautiful, intricate, and symmetrical. Some (myself included) may assume, then, that if we give the ¨positive treatment¨ to the water and maybe even the food we consume, maybe it will nourish our bodies better than if we ate and drank under neutral circumstances or when thinking negative thoughts.
For some reason, though, I almost never remember to take the time to thank my food. I always think about it at night when I´m in bed, or when I´m in the car, or teaching a class, but never when I´m eating! I´m trying to get in the habit of taking a few seconds before I eat or drink to thank my food and water. If nothing else, there´s probably no downside to this!
I did happen to think of this exercise in gratitude the other day when I was taking clothes out of the washer and putting them in the dryer, and I thought WAIT, this is the perfect time to practice…and seconds later there I was, thanking (in my head) each piece of clothing, sending up gratitude to the people who made the garment, those who sold it, in many cases thanking those who donated it to the thrift shop where I bought it…
It´s a work in progress, but it´s an incredibly fun challenge!