DepositPhotos/VIA Institute
Source: DepositPhotos/VIA Institute

No earth-shattering research to share in this post. No list of practical tips for boosting happiness.

Instead, I offer you this sentence: "You are so lucky to have found mindfulness.”

During a recent retreat with the monks and nuns of celebrated meditation teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, that observation was made.

I was struck by it. Sometimes what is most obvious can be most impactful. The statement pressed through my consciousness of, “Yeah, I know, mindfulness is great.” A chord was struck in me. I felt the emotional sentiment being offered with the statement.  

It was the emotion of gratitude. In fact, it was a gratitude wake-up call for me:

  • Grateful for the insights and practice of mindfulness.
  • Grateful to have had the teachers I’ve had.
  • Grateful that the teachings sank in, passing my ego defenses and skepticism.
  • Grateful to have used mindfulness to manage suffering and to appreciate life’s greatest joys.
  • Grateful that mindfulness is something accessible to me and to everyone, and that it can be turned to throughout our lives.
  • Grateful the timing was right in my life 2 decades ago to hear about themes of mindful living.
  • And, grateful I’ve kept at it. For one reason or another, it would have been easy to forget, disregard, or walk away from mindfulness.

Sometime when people say they are “lucky” or they “feel blessed,” they are making a comparison to others. It’s as if they are implying they feel special or they are more fortunate or more blessed than others. That’s not the intention of this statement by the nun who said it, nor is it the intention of my feelings of gratitude.

Rather, it’s an intrapersonal gratitude. Not an interpersonal, “thanks for the present,” type of gratitude we say to others. It’s similar to the gratitude we might feel—in a very visceral way—when we feel grateful to be alive, awe-struck by a stunning sunset, or grateful when connecting with “something greater.”

It’s not a holier-than-thou approach where some people have found mindfulness and are therefore the privileged ones and then there are those who have not found mindfulness and thus remain uninformed or ignorant.

I’ve shared this sentiment during retreats I’ve led and in courses. Some people who “get it” cry in gratitude, sensing the realization and feeling something similar to my feelings.

Perhaps it was no surprise that at the end of this retreat, when the 40 participants were sitting in a circle offering a final point of sharing, the theme of gratitude sang out and was shared far more than any other theme. 

May you be mindful of your gratitude and grateful for your mindfulness.

Reference:

Niemiec, R. M. (2014). Mindfulness and character strengths: A practical guide to flourishing. Boston: Hogrefe.

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