This morning’s visit to a gastroenterologist about a possible (oh joy!) colonoscopy made me realize again that I was lucky to be alive after an emergency illness I had three years ago. While I didn’t like being reminded about a health risk, I did like being reminded about how fortunate I am. And it also made me wonder why most of the time the feeling of gratitude for being alive has to be intentional. My default mode of appreciation is often at about a 5 out of 10. A book on Buddhism I am reading suggests that we pay attention to our underlying feeling tone every day. I think the purpose is to be aware that we always are experiencing some feeling, and to see what it is because it affects our choices. And it changes.
I keep a gratitude journal about half the time, and I know it would make a difference if I did it every day. I also know that it changes my life to write affirmations. While I was attending the RGCSL service yesterday, three good affirmations came to mind: I am abundant. I am of service. I use my talents for the good of all. I know it would make a difference to write these down regularly. So I’m going to work with my coach about making habits out of these ideas so that these become default thoughts for me.
I don’t know why our default mode keeps most of our lives commonplace, but I think it does. I believe we have to take intentional steps if we want life to be all it can be for us. (And this may mean just deeply appreciating everything we have and are). I was just visiting my brother Chuck in the Bay Area as he was finishing the biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson The book is motivating him to do some of the things he has always wanted to but hasn’t because of things that stop all of us — work, family, and beliefs about what life can be. It would be great if he (and we) could keep up the enthusiasm that leads to a more fulfilling life and remember how lucky we all are to be alive.