Sunday, April 24, 2011

Gratitude vs. Fear

How do our thoughts define our reality?  Is our waking life more real than our dream lives?  We seem to live with a general consensus that waking life is more real than our sleeping reality, and that on some level we all have to conform to the greater waking reality that we all share.

It leads me to wonder, how much of the greater waking reality do we really share?  Are facts actually true, or just items we've all agreed upon superficially?  From what I have observed, facts are greatly malleable as far as the meanings surrounding them are concerned.  And it seems to my observation that we construct our truths around perceived meanings, which are all quite individual.

In that case, do any of us really inhabit the same reality?  The people with whom I share the vast majority of my waking hours share a lot of experiences with me.  Or rather, they share a great deal of events with me. Their experiences of the events are as individual as we are from each other.  Our perspectives do not have to agree on anything, really.  For me, a moment may be experienced as pleasant and full of promise, while to another person that same moment might be experienced as annoying and gloomy.

Who then has the right of it?  I think we both do, in so far as both experiences happen and are valid.  It allows for two people to experience the same general events and have one feel as though they inhabit heaven, and the other hell.  How incredible that nugget of thought is to me - that realities diverge swiftly based on the individual perceiving it.  And it is the perception that defines their reality, not the external events, although external events will then conform to the actions taken by the individuals - and those actions are usually based in the belief or perception of the reality an individual holds.

I am noticing more and more that the world reflects back what we are to us.  We all have lots of aspects, so different people or circumstances and places bring out various aspects of ourselves for us to observe.  And that is pretty amazing!  It is often easier to see how another gets fed on the stuff that they surround themselves with.  For example, one who is always angry that people are out to take advantage of them continually finds more situations in which they believe this to be true.  Their attitude of mistrust, fear and anger creates a similar reaction in those who interact with them and creates a loop that feeds itself.  Easy to see from outside of the loop, and perpetually frustrating to the one caught in it.  It is difficult for us to see our own loops, but if we look for them, they become more apparent.

Gratitude seems to be a very potent attitude to have.  It's joy and contentment with what already is seems to bring more and more people and circumstances to be thankful for.  The more I adopt this attitude, the more it reinforces itself and it's quite a pleasant loop to be in.  On the other side, the attitude of disempowerment and inability to effect the world the way I want to is a very poor one to linger in, and I can see where it has hindered me a lot in my life and that it slows down the otherwise very effective attitude of gratefulness.  I think I have both of these attitudes going on much of the time, and they eventually cancel each other out if I stay too long in the frustrated and disempowered state.

At those times, I am not grateful for anything and more focused on how to get around obstacles.  More and more obstacles show up, and I feel more disempowered.  People aren't supportive or they try to help me.  Either way, I perceieve this as me not being powerful enough to do it myself and get frustrated and sad.  I get angry at being perceived as needing help.  I am afraid then, and start to believe that I really do need a lot of help and can't do anything on my own very well.  I complain a lot and others see that I need help and offer it, or sympathize about how difficult the world is to live in or how difficult and impossible it is to make new and exciting things happen.  I get more upset.

The very same situations, once I replace the disempowerment vibe with gratitude, take on a whole new emotion.  Suddenly I am grateful for the help.  People show up with ideas and ways of implementing plans that I couldn't come up with on my own.  I am thrilled to not have to work so hard, and even grateful that I am able to attract such help and awesomeness into my life.  I am no longer worried that by not doing everything myself that I have no worth.  In fact, I am thankful that I can put my energy into helping them instead of them helping me.  I get excited that I now have a group of awesome people all focused on a task together, all doing the parts that they enjoy and are good at.  I start to expect this kind of thing to happen all the time, and it really does begin to happen like that for me.  I want something, and within weeks or days, something unexpected and wonderful comes up that fulfills that desire.  The situations of fear and anxiousness start to break up and dissolve, replaced with situations of joy and gratitude and trust.

I think we trust reality a lot, not realizing that what we are actually trusting is our influence on reality.  We believe that what is outside of us (circumstances, people, objects, etc.) makes us feel a certain way and determines our options to create or exist or inhabit the world.  What is more true, I believe now, is that it is our emotions about life and circumstances and people that causes those circumstances, people and objects to appear, or to act or manifest as they do.  And if that is true (and more and more I believe that it really is true), there is no limit to the wonderful things we can do and create and be and enjoy.  It is unfortunately also the case that there is no limit to the amount of suffering we can put ourselves through as well.

In these times, I think it is best to focus on what we have that we are thankful for, on what it is that we want to create and share; for example, a clean and beautiful world filled with diverse and honored life, clean water and air, communities of people working to uplift and honor each other, and ways to share the incredible mystery that is life on this planet.  Ways to simply enjoy our lives right now, with loved ones, in jobs that we remember we have the power to alter to suit us as human beings - sharing our gifts with each other and for the world.  We can all be lovely without all trying to become in charge of the whole world.  We only need to be in charge of ourselves, and love it.  The more we succeed at this the more and more awesome life will become for all of us, I think.

Anyway, it is hard to describe the feeling that accompanies this essay.  The words feel overly simple and small for such a large feeling of vast possibility and wonder.  I hope that those who read it are able to pick up the gist of the idea and take something joyful from it, a feeling of their own incredible power to change their perceptions and attitudes into something they love, and let it ripple out from there.  I think as we do this, more and more people will do it, too - and the world will change, in an instant, to something so much brighter and hopeful and joyful than what it is in too many places right now.

What is time anyway, but a chance to try all of this stuff out?  Let's make it fun.  :)

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