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Empathy and Gratitude

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sometimes we forget to take the time to recognize the richness that defines our lives. This may be because many of the messages we encounter as we go about our affairs prompts us to think about what we don’t have rather than all the abundance we do enjoy. Consequently, our gratitude exists in perpetual conflict with our desire for more, whether we crave time, convenience, wealth, or enlightenment. Yet understanding and truly appreciating our blessings can be as simple as walking a mile in another’s shoes for a short period of time. Because many of us lead comparatively insular lives, we may not comprehend the full scope of our prosperity that is relative to our sisters and brothers in humanity.

If you find taking an inventory of your life’s blessings difficult, consider the ease with which you nourish your body and mind, feed your family, move from place to place, and attend to tasks at hand. For a great number of us, activities we may take for granted, such as attaining an education, buying healthy food, commuting to work, or keeping a clean house, represent great challenges. To experience firsthand the complex tests others face as a matter of course in their daily lives, try living without the amenities you most often take for granted. This can be a great experiment to undertake with your entire family or a classroom. Understanding working poverty can be as easy as endeavoring to buy nutritious foods with a budget of $100 for the week. If you own a car, relying on public transportation for even just a day can help you see the true value of the comfort and conveniences others do without. As you explore a life without things you may normally take for granted,! ask yourself for how long you could endure.

The compassionate gratitude that floods our hearts when we come to fully realize our abundance may awaken pangs of guilt in our hearts. Be aware, however, that the purpose of such an experiment is to open our hearts further in gratitude and compassion. This awareness can help us attain a deeper level of gratitude that will allow us to savor and, above all, appreciate our lives with renewed grace.
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