A Practice of Gratitude

Every year, on the morning of my birthday, I am filled with joy. Joy springs up, for no obvious reason except that it is my birthday.

In my forties, I used to invite my friends to share the celebration of this day with me. It became a yearly ritual. We gathered for an afternoon of fun, with potluck cheer and laughter. I looked around me, utterly satisfied to see everyone in conversation and listening to intermittent laughter. Happiness splashed around like water. Before the birthday cake appeared, we sat together, in a circle, elbow to elbow, on my living room floor. Time for presents! On that day, I took the opportunity to recognize the people in my life, so I acknowledged each one and also gave out flowers and gifts.

My birthday is in February and the flower of the season, the dark-leafed primrose, blooms in all colors. In exchange for their birthday cards, my friends would graciously accept their potted flowers, wrapped up in tissue paper, and their unique presents, chosen to the T for their personalities or lovely quirks. The words on each card would remind me why I loved each one of my guests. They knew me. They saw me for who I was, who I am. I was grateful, I am grateful, to have them in my life. We know each other. Over the years my friends moved to different states and we have spread all over this country, taking with us the memories of our get-togethers. What was there then, and still is here now, can be summarized in one word: gratitude. I am grateful and honored to have encountered each one of them.

Nowadays I try to have a daily practice of gratitude in my life because it uplifts my spirit and steeps me in contentment. Experiencing contentment is a sure way to avoid the pitfall of our ego and our desires and their tyrannical demands. A plus, don’t you think?

Originally posted in October 2015

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