Sometimes gratitude comes naturally, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it’s a practice that requires a bit of work and sometimes it won’t come even when you dig in deep and try your hardest to feel it.
Yesterday was such a day. I was feeling agitated and irritable. In true human fashion I tried to shake it. I dropped my daughter at school and I went to therapy and then I tried to talk it out. We tried to get to the bottom of it- really it seemed like I was just grasping at things to try and explain why I was feeling down and blah. It felt like there wasn’t a single thing- it felt like a moving target and then something new happened.
So lately I’ve been trying a few new things that have seemed helpful to me but in a whole new way. I’ve been trying to allow it all. The moments when I’m full of gratitude. The times when I’m agitated and irritable. Those days when I feel like a rock star and times when I fee full of doubt and fear. Notice anything else cool about all this? Feelings, moods, thoughts, ideas, funks….they come and go!
Sadly, this means I won’t always feel like a rock star, on top of my game, having a good hair day, feelin’ the love, diggin’ the groove, and being inspired. BUT- it also means I won’t always feel bitchy, down, blue, agitated, blah, lost, confused, doubtful, sick, tired, annoyed, and disconnected! This is good news, for me at least. Everything comes and goes. The good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly. It all is fleeting. Here’s the other thing I’ve been trying- I don’t have to try and enjoy it more, hold onto it, make it stay, chase it away, fight it off, etc.
But there’s more…
Even when I do try to talk it out, analyze it to death, run from it, hide from it, therapize it, eat it, hold it, hoard it, clench it, squeeze it to death…it’s still ok. It’s all ok. It’s always been ok. I’m ok. You’re ok.
I’m a human. You’re a human. This is all what we do. We are a society of “get happy”. In an age of social media and tiny squares of life, we’re all trying to be our best selves all the time. It’s exhausting. Even my spiritual pursuits have been a journey of trying to outrun life and living a human existence. But you know what my human experience tells me? It’s not possible. I’ve never experienced one thing forever. So how do I think it’s possible to outrun what I perceive as negative feelings? How can I outgrow sadness? Or outheal agitation or loneliness? Would I still be human if I didn’t feel confused or ever face fear or doubt? And those moments don’t stick around forever. I actually think trying to outrun them and avoid them is what keeps me in a place of pain for much longer than the original feeling would have lasted. That’s what buddhists would call suffering.
I want to note something here though for those who may really be suffering in a dark place that has lasted longer than a few days- I feel that depression and anxiety can be really crippling at times and may need treatment. I myself take medication for both and that has helped me tremendously. But here’s the deal- I still have feelings come up that I don’t exactly like- sadness, loneliness, disconnection, confusion, doubt, fear, blah, agitation, etc. and that’s what I’m talking about here. The medication just helps me elevate the lows that keep me from living my life. The feelings and things I’m talking about here are more like everyday stuff that truly does come and go.
So in this moment, while I was flipping through all the beautiful photos of my family and friends in my phone- I felt a heart swell of gratitude. I saw how colorful, vivid and full of life my life really is and I felt it deep. Who knows what the next moment will hold. I’ll have to wait and see. But I give myself permission to feel it and let it come and go.