Every morning rather than jumping up and starting my day, I first take the time to pray. Kabbalists have a set of prayers that they say every morning, one of which is the 18 blessings which is a tool for connecting to appreciation for the blessings in our lives, from the sun rising to the ground under our feet. There is even a prayer that reminds us to be thankful for waking up. It’s a powerful reminder to not take anything for granted, and as we all know, it’s human nature to take things for granted.
Starting each day with powerful prayer of gratitude sets my consciousness in the right place because the kabbalists teach that if I hope to attract more blessings into my life I must have deep appreciation for the wonderful things that I already have. In the book What I Know Now, Letters to My Younger Self, actress Cameron Mannheim shares that she thinks of the universe like a pension plan, whatever you invest, the universe matches your investment. If your investment capitol is appreciation, the more appreciation you have for the blessings in your life, the more blessings come your way. Likewise, if we don’t practice appreciation, not only will we not attract new blessings, but often the gifts we already have in our lives will drift away.
Last week I mentioned the 2nd of the 18 morning blessings, which is “give sight to the blind”. Not to be taken literally, this part of the prayer asks for the power of spiritual sight and the ability to perceive our lives with clarity — to truly “see”. Our perception affects how we live, what we appreciate and how deeply, and profoundly impacts all of our relationships. In essence, we are asking for the ability to really “see” our blessings.
This time of year the topic of thankfulness is front and center. Social scientists report that people who make it a practice to write down just one thing a day that they are grateful for show a marked rise in happiness in less than a month. That’s an easy investment for a big pay-off.
When people start the practice, their gratitude lists immediately include:
- DAY 1: good health
- DAY 2: a good job
- DAY 3: my family/friends/coworkers
- DAY 4: grateful for the people who love and care for us
But around day five they begin to struggle to think of things that they are grateful for and their lists take on a decidedly different energy:
- new running shoes
- all green lights
- reading a good book
- find a good parking spot
- another day with my dog
- unexpected cash in your wallet
- getting a Halloween card a month late
- social network
- dollar shave club
- amazon prime
- car seat warmer & coolers
- hearing a really funny story
I find it fascinating the things that people are thankful for and in no way do I think that they shouldn’t be thankful for these things! Appreciation is powerful.
But let’s challenge ourselves to elevate our gratitude. Contemplate this: The likelihood of your parents ever meeting (just meeting) is 1 in 20,000. The chance of your parents just talking to each other after they meet is 1 in 10, the chance of that turning into a date is 1 in 10 again and the chance of that turning into a relationship and resulting in a child (you) all adds up to about 1 in 2000.
These aren’t great odds. (Add to gratitude list: being born.)
But mathematicians can break it down even further when they factor in the tricky biology of sperm and eggs and that your lineage would have had to remain unbroken through approximately 150,000 generations. The probability of every one of your ancestors reproducing is 1 in a number larger than all the particles in the universe! When all the statisticians and math professors are done, the odds of you being you and you being here are about 1 in 400 trillion.
You are a miracle. You are very improbable. You are a gift and your life is an impossible, improbable miracle.
(For comparison, the chance of a person being struck by lightning is 1 in 3,000.)
We think that we practice gratitude. On balance we consider ourselves thankful and appreciative of the myriad gifts in our lives. But when we’re truly grateful, we take it to another level, one of overwhelming gratitude for simply being alive, for being granted another day on this earth, another opportunity to experience this world and hopefully share of ourselves in a way that brings Light to the world. It is clear that all of us, to greater and lesser degrees, fail at having a consistent and true appreciation for our gifts. On those days, try to remember that you are 1 in 400 trillion and every morning that you wake up is an improbable and beautiful gift.
THOUGHT INTO ACTION
This Thanksgiving, look around the table at your friends and family and contemplate how improbable it is that not just you are there, but the miracle that is your loved ones as well.
Happy Thanksgiving! May your appreciation grow daily and create prosperity for you and your loved ones.
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