Tag: Grateful heart

Why Small Moments Matter

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Recently, The Intelligent Optimist sat down for a Q&A with Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, head of a worldwide network of meditation centers, talking about optimism and fundament goodness—asking one very provocative question for our time: 

TIO: Can fundamental goodness be seen in the face of violence? 

SR: ‘Every moment presents an opportunity to recognize the core of humanity—whether one is a bus driver, the president of a nation, or a murderer. In each instant, we can stop and reflect on who we are and what we are doing with our life. Even in the direst situations, when people are given the opportunity to discover their humanity, the possibility of it coming through can occur. By creating a global culture where humanity itself is respected, rather than simply our own agenda, we create a greater tendency for qualities such as empathy and wisdom to come about. The acts of aggression being experienced all over the world are not isolated occurrences. We all play a part in the health of our global community. We are in this together and we all have the opportunity to shift the degradation of our time to a stronger and brighter future. 

The history of our individual lives is predicated on what happens every second of every day that we’re here. No matter how seemingly inconsequential, our decisions and actions, both conscious and unconscious, determine our path, one we, many times, blindly follow.

We process the journey in situational increments of time; marked by ‘when this happened’ or ‘that happened.’ We live in a limbo of solitary, monumental moments and allow them to define us. After a particular event or occurrence is over, we go back to just breathing, surviving, trying to move along.

Without realizing it, those moments become mile markers on the timeline of our existence on this big, glorious, ubiquitous Earth.  If you put the timeline of your memories onto a map, what would it look like? Peaks and valleys, highs and lows of happiness and hurt, would probably overwhelmingly abound, right? But, think for a second, do you remember everyday situations outside of your self-decided defining moments?

As Rinpoche notes, In each instant, we can stop and reflect on who we are and what we are doing with our life. Even in the direst situations, when people are given the opportunity to discover their humanity, the possibility of it coming through can occur.”

Our own defining moments happen when we are waiting for something else to come along. Paradoxically, what plays out as insignificant periods of time are actually hugely important to us, we just don’t notice or pay attention to them— we’re too focused on our road ahead.

These ‘pit stops,’ however — unselfish moments where we finally look beyond our agenda— are actually the blessings of being part of a collective humanity—one we often forget.

When we experience kindness, compassion or empathy, we begin to realize that human suffering exists as a whole; allowing us to derive strength and support from strangers and friends alike. We try to take the whole drive alone but we simply can’t; we need each other on this journey— when we get lonely, tired or weary, we need to remember that.

So next time you feel like you’re taking a long stretch of the road alone, give a stranger a smile as you’re passing through. You may not be able to fix your own problems that day, but you’ll never know the power you could potentially have on alleviating someone else’s. 

 Allow yourself to find gratitude in small moments, especially the ones where all you feel you’re doing is breathing; there is an opportunity there to do something great. Practicing that, you’ll come to find that time can be transformative, allowing us all to be more aware and blissful on our individual and collective paths— with a rosier view of what’s ahead and a feeling of accomplishment on how far we’ve come. 


Magnificent Mantras to Awaken Your Best Self: Part 2

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2. Be Grateful to Everyone

“If you feel grateful for what is possible for you in this moment, no matter what your challenges are, if you feel grateful that you are alive at all, that you can think, that you can feel, that you can stand, sit, walk, talk—if you feel grateful, you are happy and you maximize your chances for well-being and for sharing happiness with others.” – Norman Fischer

Sounds simple enough, right? Think about it for a moment—pose these questions to yourself: What are you most grateful for? When did you start to become mindful of this ‘gratefulness’ characteristic of life? Maybe most importantly, who taught you to appreciate that attribute and how did you learn to ingrain it into your consciousness?

We associate gratefulness with pleasure and like-mindedness. We find solace in our own seemingly serene understanding and feel appreciative that we can experience thankfulness for recognizing that gift. Gratefulness, however, is much greater than that—its actual, immediate cultural impact far outshines its surface-level ambiance—and has a lasting impact on our awakened life as individuals.

Fischer notes, “Unhappiness and gratitude cannot live in the same moment.”Meaning each second that we are not happy, especially when it’s for selfish reasons, we’re missing the heart of the matter— which runs much deeper than our own superficial daily, run-of-the-mill unhappiness. We must learn that the projections of our own attitudes directly affect our outside world; The Universe and all of the other humans in it; other humans we so easily forget are so integral to our daily existence. 

As noted in Part 1, sometimes, all that’s needed is a small shift in perception for a perspective to turn negative thought into positive action, as we make ‘all steps important to our journey.’ A path Fischer calls ‘profound understanding.’

That said—gratefulness is more than the appreciation for what we have—it’s an understanding of what we need, as a singular being, and how we can contribute our own gifts to a community of comrades—our fellow humans—that are just trying to make it through their own day as they try to lead their own best life.

From the beginning of our existence, we’ve needed others to survive. When we’re first born, our parents are our refuge. They’re our constant—our way to sustain and continue life—and if we’re lucky enough, we learn to thrive on our own from that example. Curating our own reality for ourselves as adults, we base our judgments upon those fundamental principles that were instilled in us in our young years—for better or worse—when enlightened, by that fact, we’re lead to a more complete compassion for other humans.

“We were all at one time precisely in this situation, and someone or other must have cared for us in this same comprehensive way. Without one hundred percent total care from someone else, or maybe several others, we would not be here. This is certainly grounds for gratitude to others.”

When identifying our interdependence in the scope of the world around us, we can start to look outside of our own three-foot-circle and see the world for what it really is, not necessarily what we hope to take for ourselves individually.

What’s more, in being human, we owe a responsibility to bear the burden for all human kind—but with a silver lining perhaps—the more positive light we shine from ourselves the more brilliance there is in the universe; power we can exponentially create for whomever decides to dwell in the light.

So each time we feel a bit sorry for ourselves—let us be mindful of two things—the impact that this situation has on our path, and also, how our reaction to this situation impacts the lives of those around us who make our lives livable, whether we actively recognize it our not, each and every day.

Celebrate your fellow humans for their flaws and relish in the fact that you’re aware that we’re all working towards something, groping in the dark, for that bright, ominous light of happiness. And now that we’ve touched on the journey and how to be grateful and happy in it, what are we tackling in final part of these magnificent mantras? We’re getting deep with Part 3: “Do Good, Avoid Evil, and Appreciate Your Lunacy.

Miss Part 1 of Magnificent Mantras? Never fear; find it here: http://marafisher.tumblr.com/post/87595989678/magnificent-mantras-to-awaken-your-best-self-part-1