Mindful Gratitude: One Simple Question That Will Change Your Life for the Better

In times of turmoil, I turn to the practice of gratitude — a potent reminder that any misfortune is always counterbalanced by our capacity to see the good in the world, however small and insignificant it may seem.

As I count my blessings, I inevitably see our tendency to focus on the bad for what it is, a dysfunctional mental habit that obscures the joy of being alive in this very moment, here and now.

This is what Zen master and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh (11 October 1926 – 22 January 2022) explores in a portion of his classic Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life.

Thich Nhat Hanh.

Thich Nhat Hanh writes:

We often ask, “What’s wrong?” Doing so, we invite painful seeds of sorrow to come up and manifest. We feel suffering, anger, and depression, and produce more such seeds. We would be much happier if we tried to stay in touch with the healthy, joyful seeds inside of us and around us.

We should learn to ask, “What’s not wrong?” and be in touch with that. There are so many elements in the world and within our bodies, feelings, perceptions, and consciousness that are wholesome, refreshing, and healing.

Then he adds:

Awareness of the precious elements of happiness is itself the practice of right mindfulness. Elements like these are within us and all around us. In each second of our lives we can enjoy them. If we do so, seeds of peace, joy, and happiness will be planted in us, and they will become strong. …

Wherever we are, any time, we have the capacity to enjoy the sunshine, the presence of each other, the wonder of our breathing. We don’t have to travel anywhere else to do so. We can be in touch with these things right now.

Complement this teaching from Peace Is Every Step with our guided meditation on accessing the power of now.

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