Starting With Gratitude

Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
~ Marcel Proust


And when you crush an apple with your teeth, say to it in your heart:
Your seeds shall live in my body,
And the buds of your tomorrow shall blossom in my heart,
And your fragrance shall be my breath,
And together we shall rejoice through all the seasons
~ Khalil Gibran

When you live with your eyes open it is easy to experience burnout and become exhausted, disillusioned, deeply depressed: we are, evidence tells us, in the brink of the sixth mass extinction; we may even wipe ourselves out along with thousands of other species…we have polluted this planet and pushed ecosystems beyond their limits: we have ravaged all Earth seeking resources, we have started wars, we have ignored and abused fellow human beings and we are (each one of us) a chaotic mess of unfulfilled desires and inexplicable contradictions…

But we also are resourceful, resilient and caring, creative and surprising; capable of indescribable compassion, beauty, ingenuity and sacrifice…and we are surrounded by blessings: we are alive, we are here, we have each other and we have the ability of building active hope.

When I see a landscape for the first time; a deeply disturbed, depressed, confused, dependent or needy client; a huge pile in need of cleanup…my eyes and heart become heavy with the pain, the sadness, the flaws and the needs: I am a sponge and my body bends under so much weight…but another part of me fights back: I see the assets, the opportunities, the little smile, a glimpse of what’s possible and what is already there.

Is this last ability what helps me from burning out and giving up: Having the eyes wide open allows you to see and feel both sides: that is why we have two eyes and not one; that is why there is always an option, as Viktor Frankl, a holocaust survivor and author says:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

All starts with Gratitude

When I first encounter this idea, my reaction was one of anger and rebellion: how come, how arrogant to ask for gratitude to those who have suffered indescribable pain, neglect and abuse! This idea of gratitude (I thought) was OK for hippies and Western New Age middle class ones who may have never experienced extremes in their lives…and in a certain way, I still think the same: there are situations in life when is difficult, if not impossible, to see a single thing for which being grateful for.

But then I started to see the magic of leveraging on assets instead of needs, gaps, risks and vulnerabilities: all starts with gratitude for what was, is and have the potential of being…with gratitude comes acceptance and humility, and the power of the small/big things:

the little flower coming through the crack on the polluted pavement;

the sparkle in the eyes of the abused woman;

the relief after a two-day migraine that pushed us down for two days;

the resilience of the molested child who refuses to live haunted by shadows;

the decision of the man stripped from everything in life who rebuilds himself up;

the dog we found on the road and would now die for us if needed;

the heart of somebody we have never seen but still became a sister in soul;

the friend who always has time for reading our emails and saying a magical word that makes our day;

the quiet revolution of all the individuals who have woken up and are shaping the new world ahead…


For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.”
~ Thích Nhất Hạnh

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