Approaching the end of the year with Christmas, New Year, and holidays looming, it is easy to give thanks for all the good things
we have in life. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could retain that spirit of gratitude and thanks everyday throughout the year?

How can we possibly do that with what we see on the news every night shaking our very confidence in the future? Yet our spiritual teachers tell us we have much to be thankful for. The Dalai Lama often says that we should be thankful for our opportunity of being incarnated in this world and make the most use of the opportunities this presents to us each day. Theosophical teachers tell us that we owe the spiritual hierarchy grateful thanks for their sacrifices every moment just to keep this world a suitable place for us to create and work off our karma, thus learning spiritual lessons in that process. Great Masters of Wisdom, like Pythagoras, urge us to meditate daily on the good things we have achieved each day and to try and discard the ‘garbage’ of our daily experience as we face each new day.

Perhaps we could call this view of life an ‘Attitude of Gratitude’ for all that we have in life, both good and bad, that is helping us to spiritually grow and learn. But how on earth can we practically achieve such a positive attitude to life? Here are a few suggestions from best-selling author Lewis Howes who says:

“Life is better if you develop an attitude of gratitude. If you concentrate on what you have, you’ll always have more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you’ll never have enough.”

His practical suggestions to achieve an attitude of gratitude include:
· Wake up every day and express to yourself what you are grateful for,
· Tell whoever you are with at the end of the day the 3 things you are most grateful for,
· Tell whoever you are with right now (significant other, friend, family member, etc.) the three things that you are most grateful for in this moment,
· Start a gratitude journal – Express gratitude in this journal every night by noting the things that you are grateful for, proud of, and excited about,
· Acknowledge yourself for what you have done and accomplished in the last day/week/month/year. Instead of comparing yourself to others, give yourself credit for the big and small things you have been doing!
· Acknowledge other people and thank them for inspiring/helping/supporting you – oftentimes people wait their whole lives to be acknowledged (and yet it happens far too infrequently)!

Long ago, an ‘Attitude of Gratitude’ was well recognized as an essential component of training in the spiritual life. In ancient Egypt there were beautiful prayers greeting the rising Sun and the opportunities offered by each day. In India there is a prayer by the great 5th century poet, Kalidassa, offered by thousands of people each morning before setting out on the day’s duties:

The Salutation of the Dawn

Listen to the exhortation of the Dawn!

Look to this Day! For it is Life, the very Life of Life;

In its brief course lie all the Verities

And Realities of your Existence.

The Glory of Action,

The Bliss of Growth,

The Splendour of Beauty.

For Yesterday is but a Dream

And Tomorrow is only a Vision

But Today well lived makes every Yesterday

 A Dream of Happiness,

And every Tomorrow a Vision of Hope.

 Look well therefore to this Day

Such is the Salutation of the Dawn.

Perhaps we can try to utter the positive message of this beautiful prayer in our own way as we face each day, no matter what the challenges that await.

“… along with humility, gratitude seems to be one of the most essential spiritual qualities to develop and express in every step. Gratitude is the opposite of resentment or entitlement. We can start small and even if we don’t feel it at first, we can find things to say ‘thank you’ for. The act itself will eventually change the inner thoughts and the feeling will follow. That inner energy of gratitude begins to permeate our thoughts and we then begin to see that the ‘broken glass’ we were avoiding on our path with fear, is actually diamonds given to us to fulfil our purpose…”- Chris Kavelin, American/Australian indigenous rights advocate and traditional medicine researcher based in Melbourne, Australia, from his 2016 book Nudges from grandfather, page 15, available from our Melbourne library.