Gratitude and Reflection

One of the online newsletter I subscribe to is called “Brain Pickings” and is written by Maria Popova. At least once a week, she sends out thoughts and wisdom on life, love and many other human topics related to life and living. This last week, she sent out a list of 13 “learnings” she developed as mantras for life. Courtesy of her, I share a few of these with you this morning.

  1. You are allowed to change your mind. This is a tough one because society sees those who don’t stick with their beliefs sometimes as weak, easily manipulated, fickle and so on. But what if, when you formed your opinion (which is considered important these days) you either didn’t know enough to make up your mind or you were wrong? I think it is important to have an opinion on things, I think it is important to share that opinion appropriately but I also think it is important to, once greater knowledge or awareness is gained on the subject, to change your viewpoint and change your mind. There is no weakness in changing thinking – instead a strength is the acknowledgement of error or fault which requires a change of thinking or opinion.
  2. Build “stillness” in to your lives. It is easier for me to do this as I am naturally introverted (which does not mean shy but rather one who draws energy from oneself or within). To build stillness asks that we have times of independent, quiet reflection – alone time or “me” time. This can be sitting quietly in nature, in a church or temple (such as the one on the way to Cullinan), lying on your bed, reading a book that provokes thinking, listening to a piece of classical music or many other things. Stillness allows us to think about who, what and where we are in life as we contemplate our futures. Stillness shuts off the outside world and internalises our thinking. Stillness means quiet time, which in this noisy world of ours is sorely lacking.
  3. Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time. Our current culture of instant gratification where fast foods, easy credit and other devices are designed to “make our lives easier” – or so we think. Cooking a meal together and then eating takes time but the connections formed with our friends and family are invaluable. Even cooking alone, which is what I do most Sundays, allows for quiet reflection while being as creative as possible to give delight to those you will serve. Borrowing money to buy the car now that you cannot afford can get you in to serious trouble. There are times when we have to do things now, but a long-term investment both literally and figuratively reaps great reward.
  4. Fight cynicism actively. The world is full of those who want to destroy you or those who look for the negative in every instance. One of the interesting developments these past months is a Facebook group called “#Iamstaying” which has attracted almost a million followers. While I don’t like some of the posts on that group I do like the positive attitude and story that is told. This is a group free from cynicism which is so often in the social media space
  5. Be grateful – always. This is mine. We are blessed so much with what we have and where we are and we forget to remember that. If we combine two of the points above, reflection and fighting cynicism, we can spend that time being grateful – for our family, our friends, our community, our school. For the opportunities we have (even though we may not think so). Even those of you with the most horrendous and difficult lives have at least something to be grateful for.

I close with a video I love watching made by a man who is a photographer who specialises in time-lapse photography. This is where someone takes multiple images, over a long period of time, stitched together. You have all seen them – flowers unfolding, clouds and so on. This man, Louis Schwartzberg, make a short video in which his images are shown and narrated by a monk who talks about life and what we can be grateful for.

It is called Gratitude…