Jun 14, 2010

11 Questions that lead to Gratitude

Whenever you notice that you’re energy is negative, ask yourself:
“What am I grateful for?”

  1. What made you happy?
  2. What energized you?
  3. What barrier did you overcome?
  4. What changed you?
  5. What triggered your creativity?
  6. What deepened your spirituality?
  7. What kindness did you experience?
  8. What did others do for you?
  9. What inspired you?
  10. What made you feel good?
  11. What difficulty taught you an important lesson?

Gratitude is a mind state that leads to happiness and contentment. We can get caught up in negative emotions, like resentment or anger. But such emotions are destructive and painful for you as well as for others.

Gratitude is a hallmark of humanity; it lifts our lives out of ignorance and isolation. But it is difficult to have gratitude for those around us if they act kindly only out of an expectation of reward or a sense of obligation. Also, when people try to manipulate others by granting them favors, the resulting "debt" of gratitude may easily become a burden. Buddhist wisdom, however, enables us to see our essential interconnectedness beyond superficial social obligations. 

Through our Buddhist practice we expand our capacity to express gratitude and can even transform hostility into a cause for personal development. Thus from his exile to the Izu Peninsula, the Daishonin states: "Moreover, in this lifetime, I have taken faith in the Lotus Sutra and encountered a ruler who will enable me to free myself in my present existence from the sufferings of birth and death. Thus, how can I dwell on this insignificant harm that he had done me and overlook my debt to him?" (WND-1, 44).

As we develop a perspective and capacity to see even hardship in a positive light, we can experience a sense of gratitude for something beyond immediate give-and-take and deepen our humanity. Devadatta failed to prevent Shakyamuni from acting kindly, and the shogunate government could not make the Daishonin bitter. From these examples, we can see that negative circumstances do not have to make us feel ungrateful.

Living Buddhism, May 2000, p.6 
and By Mary Jaksch

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