How did we forget to be grateful

 In Growth

Do you have a dream of visiting a specific place in the world?

I do. Many of them! Well, I’ve finally made it to one of the big ones I’ve thought about for years… Silicon Valley in San Fransisco… I’ve been wanting to get here for more than 16 years! And that’s what I did last week, packed up and left Mexico.

And with all that travel…
… I missed sending you last weeks email because I was flat out changing countries! After living for 5 straight months in Mexico, last week was my last week (for a little while) – and I spent that week in Mexico City.

You might think that because I’ve been shifting countries for more than 2 years now that I’d be used to it. And yes I am, but I still get a bit a sad when I say good bye… (even though I plan to come back). Last Thursday was one of those days, feeling nostalgic as I packed up all my worldly possessions into my two bags and prepared to head north to the world’s digital mecca, San Fransisco.

In San Fran I’d found myself a place to stay in one of the “start up” co-working spaces, filled with entrepreneurs all coming here to try and make it in the digital gold rush.

Many of my friends have been telling me about the massive changes in San Fransisco over the past 4 years of the tech boom, how real estate prices jumped 30% last year alone, and they’ve more than doubled in the past 2-3 years.

This has led to huge numbers of people being forced out of the city, unable to afford their housing.

This morning when I was out on my morning jog around chilly San Fransisco I passed so many homeless people who were waking up to another cold morning on the streets.

It helped remind me to be grateful for everything in my life, all my travels, friends, clothes, food, and most recently everything that Mexico has taught me… and how this extraordinary life has led me back to the US for this visit and to explore new opportunities.

But I wondered about these homeless people, rugged up as best as they could, many of them in real pain and discomfort.
Just having come from a much warmer climate a bit further south, I wondered why they didn’t at least go somewhere a bit warmer, perhaps an environment that I presumed would be a bit easier?

In the business of the grey corporate downtown, everyone else seemed so accustomed to this, they just walked on past, trying to ignore the homeless. They were keen to get to their office and start their day of work. I sense a profound disconnection here. A feeling of busy-ness… with some emptiness. Something that I didn’t feel while living in Mexico, so it’s a bit of a shock.

I love the US, and while it is a land of amazing opportunity, one that I’m blessed to tap into, it does have a feeling of being on the edge… it’s one of the reasons I like to come back and visit, because I don’t think things will always be as good as they are at the moment (because for many/most they’re not even that good!).

Yes… there are so many more things to be grateful for. I can even grateful for feeling grateful!
How difficult would it really be for any of the homeless to feel grateful? I think it would be pretty tough.

Gratitude ads something magical to life. Without it, life feels empty, and probably even sad.

Studies from the University of Texas Health Science Centre revealed, “a growing body of research shows that gratitude is truly amazing in its physical and psychosocial benefits.”

Typically we don’t have control over what happens in our life, happiness and sadness spring up without us being in charge. But regardless of whether we’re ecstatic, lonely, joyous, afraid or angry (any or all of which could just spring up un-asked at any moment) there are so many things we can’t easily “change”… however it is possible to think and feel into what we can be grateful for.

Because gratitude never takes away anything, it only enhances everything.

When you sprinkle some gratitude on how you’re feeling, it changes everything.

Don’t you think it’s strange that we’re in a culture that has no concept of gratitude, one that is focused on teaching us to go after what we can get, and then as soon as we get it (without time to even reflect, relax or appreciate our efforts), we typically go after the next thing. Where exactly does that sense of appreciation for everything this is remarkable our life and this world fit into that process?

What can you be grateful for?

Perhaps a better question is, what will help you feel grateful?

Would a change of location to a more interesting place help you feel grateful?
Would a change of job, career or vacation help you tap into more gratitude?
Would a change of scene, different people open you up to feeling more grateful?

Which ones will you explore? How long will you wait?

Are you thinking… As soon as I get xyz I’ll feel grateful?
Or… once I’m happy, then I’ll be grateful…

What if instead of focusing on “getting happy” you focused on “getting into situations” that activated that sense of gratitude?

I think it’s tough for people to feel grateful when they’re experiencing a dull or stressful life. It’s tough to feel grateful when you wake up in the morning dreading the rest of the day. It’s tough to feel grateful as the day comes to a close and you still feel unfulfilled or disconnected.

What if you changed your focus and direction, and decided to go for creating things that would make you feel grateful? Really look at what it would take to create a life where you wake up feeling grateful each morning?

Because to me it looks like gratitude just keeps expanding the more of it we feel. And in the face of gratitude, fear loses it’s power (and there’s a good chance that happiness get’s a whole lot brighter).

What if we all focused on getting out of the situations that actually DON’T make us feel grateful. Because if you’re around people or situations where you don’t feel grateful, it’s probably going to be pretty tough to create that life that you love. Gratitude = Love = Empowerment = Generosity

Get straight with yourself. Make a list of the things in your life that sap you, that DON’T make you feel grateful.
Now think about what different situations would actually start to make you feel grateful…

Perhaps that list is the beginning of an authentic action plan that would push you in a new direction that would change your life. Now if you can’t think of things to put on that list…

Here’s a 7 day challenge for you. 3 daily actions that will only take 5 minutes:

  1. Keep a daily journal of three things you are thankful for.
  2. Tell a spouse, partner or friend something you appreciate about them every day.
  3. Look in the mirror when you are brushing your teeth and think about something that you appreciate about yourself.

Now, here’s the really interesting part… if you can’t do those 3 things each day for a week… what’s that saying about the state of your life?

I doubt it’s because you don’t have the spare 5 minutes (which itself is something to look at!).
I think it’s got more to do with living a life that you’re not feeling grateful for.
And if you’re not feeling grateful for it… what’s the difference between you and those homeless people on the street?

Because if you’re not grateful for creating everything you’ve created, why exactly are you keeping it all going?

It’s time to feel grateful 😉

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Showing 4 comments
  • neroli7n

    Hey B 🙂 I noticed that about SF when I was there last year as well….a lot of homeless people, and it did feel like a funny kind of disconnect – all that money, all that business, all the energy of growth and people trying to get somewhere “big & exciting” and then all those people left by the side of the road in the gold rush…Like the place was fraying at the edges and this created a sense of unease. I’m not convinced the race for something “big & exciting” isn’t a futile race…that when you get to the finish line, you find what you wished for isn’t what you thought..

    I amy be totally wrong about this….but it’s possible the poor, dusty streets of Mexico hold a much fuller expression of Grace, Truth and Beauty than the sleek streets of SF Silicon Valley with their fraying edges. Who knows? I don’t…but I guess it’s all part of the adventure!

  • chello

    Hi Barnaby, I agree with you on the empowerment of gratitude, have used it most of my life. The thing is, the political and lifestyle systems that we have created, are motivated by selfishness and greed. The foundation of the USA is very much the same. That is why so many are homeless and hopeless . . . and so many more will be in the same boat soon enough.

    In order to feel gratitude, you have to care. But that is hard be do if you are on the treadmill of accumulation and consumption.

    Why is this different in Mexico? There is still a lot of poverty there, there is still a lot of lack of care for those who are poverty struck. Perhaps they just shrug their shoulders and accept it as life.

    In Australia we are a little more left-of-centre on the issue, with a government-sponsored a social security net. So Australian homeless are generally not so, due to lack of support, but other complex reasons.

    But, being grateful is something which can be practiced by anyone in any situation. I have never been homeless, but I am guessing it is just a fair bit harder to feel gratitude when everyone around you has more – and you are told you live in a land of opportunity, but have no clue how to access it.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Barnaby. You speak my language and I can relate to it 100%. Practising gratitude is by far more powerful than many people can ever imagine it to be as it changes your electro magnetic frequency and consequently the energies you attract. So simple and yet so profound

  • Anonymous

    Hi Barnaby,
    That was a powerful message that aligns with your philosophy of living a better life, no matter what your current circumstances are.
    P.S. I was wondering what happened to you last week, but now I realise that your are enjoying life!
    Best wishes

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