serene ambition™

transforming the culture of aging

Thanksgiving

Posted by Jim Selman on 11/23/06

Thanksgiving with family is a tradition I love a lot. It’s not the turkey and dressing so much as the chance to take a moment and be grateful for all that we have. I have grown over the years in how I think about gratitude—originally I thought it was about taking an inventory of ‘things’ I have to be grateful for, like listing “Thank you’s” when saying Grace. Later I came to think of gratitude as more of a ‘selfless’ expression of appreciation of good things in the world. At one point, I began to see that gratitude has more to do with my relationship to life and the world than any particular circumstance or event. “I am grateful” has become more of a declaration of who I am and an acknowledgement that I don’t have a whole lot of control over much.

If wisdom comes with age, one bit of wisdom that I’ve learned is that the less we need, the more we have. While this seems somewhat paradoxical, it occurs for me whenever I let go of some ego-based conversation about ‘me’ and what ‘I’ want, or feel, or like, or don’t like or think, or hope, or wish. When I am not self-centered, something almost magical happens. I experience a relationship with the Universe, or ‘higher power’ or God—whatever is outside my conceptions of myself—and somehow everything shifts and I begin to experience life more fully. I begin to be more present. I become aware of my connection to others and my relationship with my world. I become conscious of how miraculous life is and the privilege of being alive.

Every morning I get a ‘thought for the day’ from the Network for Grateful Living. Their website has become the genesis for a movement of people throughout the world. It isn’t religious in nature at all, but it has somehow connected with some chord that is deep within all of us. This Thanksgiving is an opportunity to expand the scope of our concerns to include the whole planet and take a moment to step back and appreciate the possibility that all of this is. At a time when the world seems to be stressed to the limit and mankind is struggling to find ways of resolving ancient conflict and fears, we can be profoundly grateful that we have the awareness and potential to engage the questions and create the commitments that can manifest as a transformation of consciousness in our lifetime.

This blog is part of that transformation. A transformation of old age from being something to fear, a source of resignation and suffering, to being a possibility for life to become better and better until we die. For me, gratitude is a way of being that frees and empowers us to be responsible for and to create our reality—a necessary element to transform our relationship with our circumstances and the human condition in which the more we resist what we don’t want, the more it persists. When we are grateful, there is nothing to resist, nothing to fear and we are present to the fact that life is a choice.

Gratitude is choosing the way it is.

© 2006 Jim Selman. All rights reserved.

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