Today, marks 1,500 days of gratitude practice. Recently we celebrated four years together, but somehow this milestone takes my breath away. It has become commonplace in our lives to mark annual events (birthdays, anniversaries) and it is easy to become complacent. But, when I break this down to days – as is done in a gratitude journal – this milestone feels profoundly tangible. I remember when I started this task and it was a 7 day challenge. Then it seemed that 21 days would be onerous, and somehow we’ve hit the 1,500 day marker on the journey to 10,000 days of gratitude.
Ten thousand days amounts to the opportunity to witness a complete lifetime transformation in a person. But we transform in so many ways along the way; we don’t reach the end point and suddenly – poof – we are a different person. Each day brings something new, and each day we either handle it with an overarching view of cynicism, bitterness and regret or we find those small moments of gratitude, joy, oneness and service (and the other tools we’ve added along the way). By finding those gems each day, we can not only celebrate the wonder of life but also weather and more easily transform those periods – and they can stretch on for years, sometimes – of real challenge. Not everyone will stay the course of 10,000 days with me, and so it is in the small steps and the consistent practice, that I hope emotional contagion takes hold with the reader.
One thousand and five hundred days – without break – fills me with awe. I was proud of the first year milestone, but this milestone is the first time I’ve been filled with awe at the power of one day at a time. I’m not disciplined in all areas of my life. A quick look at my filing basket at work or my treat cupboard in my kitchen will tell you that. And, at the same time, I have done many things in my life that have required discipline, but those efforts played to my strengths of study and solo sports. Gratitude – well – that is not something that I remember seeing around me much, as I was growing up. It isn’t that we were particularly entitled. Each achievement was simply the stepping stone for the next, in an effort to keep one’s head above water. My parent’s generation sacrificed so that I could have a better life. And not to be grateful, now, seems stingy, to say the least.
Today, I am awed and humbled by the spiritual discipline it took to get to this marker. I’ve tried for 30 years to meditate and I’m still rubbish at it. I remember learning from the yoga sutras that one only becomes ‘firmly grounded’ in spiritual practice if it is done “for a long time, without break, and in all earnestness.” My meditation and yoga practice has been sporadic and I didn’t have much hope of becoming firmly grounded, in this lifetime. Having achieved 1,500 days of gratitude, I am beginning to believe that a steady meditation practice is possible for me.
Don’t get me wrong, my basic personality hasn’t changed in the last 4 years or so. I was raised in a culture of pessimism. I still see the risk, first, when I look at a situation. But with 1,500 days of gratitude practice, I have built new neuropathways that allow me also to see the opportunity, at a second glance. We may not be able to undo all the conditioning of our lives, (and maybe we can), but, I certainly know that we can develop new options.
Today, I’m grateful. I’m grateful for all my readers and friends, without whose support I, personally, might not have made it. On those days when I was stuck in a loop of want or self pity, I’m grateful for their compassionate understanding, first, and then a gentle reminder of my gratitude practice. I’m grateful to those who gave of their time to be interviewed for the website and whose story provides inspiration to us all. This morning I wrote to a photographer whose images I often use – or want to use – on this website (Annie Spratt) to thank her. It is a small gesture and she is just one of the many photographers and artists who create the visual landscape of this space. To them all, I say: Thank you. Finally, I’m deeply indebted and grateful to C. Michael Frey and L.H. for their design and web development assistance to create this platform.
Thank you for being a part of this community and continuing journey. As always, I invite you to share your own Odyssey with us.