What defines you? If you hear this question, what comes to mind? Do you think of a laundry list of identifiers – like father, engineer, or student? Or do you first sense a pre-verbal inner “real” you… and only then your intellect kicks in to wonder what the question is about and pulls together a list of all the things that you are.
Are you a name, a gender, a color, a size?
A talent or a skill?
A past or a future?
A resident of a town, a user of products?
A role in a family, tribe, religion, profession, politic or nation?
If the laundry list of your identity were to wash away, would you persist? For most of us our identity might be severely rocked, but we would say yes, and in that answer lies the intuitive recognition that you are not what defines you. In fact, washing away the externalities – often by trial or spiritual discipline – presents us with a fresh view of ourselves, and fresh opportunity to expand our connection to and oneness with the universe.
What does gratitude have to do with this? Gratitude invites us to find and tease holes in our external casing of identity, no matter how fragile – or perfectly designed and hardened.
Has someone done something to benefit you today, perhaps something most of us take for granted, like picking up your trash or growing your coffee beans? Did nature paint beautiful frost crystals on the trees or send an autumn leaf on a mesmerizing spiral earthward outside your window? In every aspect of our daily existence, an attitude of gratitude soon spots generosity, kindness, forgiveness, opportunity, and beauty touching us everywhere.
Gratitude melts the illusion of separateness. Gratitude opens our eyes, hearts, and minds to our oneness with the universe. We see how everything reaches out, expands us, and transforms us beyond our notion of our limits and self.
Gratitude gently loosens the tight packaging of our identity, unwinding us to more.
Photo by: By scott*eric