I consider a gratitude practice a spiritual practice, and I definitely consider myself a gratitude seeker, but a few years ago I accidentally created a slightly different approach to cultivating gratitude. I’ve been thinking about this story of mine a lot lately and thought I’d share it today. Here’s the story behind it:
It was 2007. I had recently declared myself an artist, which came with all sorts of imposter syndrome gremlins. I was working long hours building a website, blogging, and all the stuff that comes with trying to create and launch a new creative life. Those were exciting times, but also exhausting and hard. In the midst of all that transition, I was lying in bed one night, just about to drift off to sleep when the image of my life as it would be seen through the eyes of a stranger occurred to me. It was so vivid, so endearing and real, that I was surprised by my own tears.
Instead of the usual to-do list or “this could be better if I worked harder or did more” thinking, I gently let my inner vision roll over my entire life, as if I wasn’t myself – the person living it all – but as if I was a total stranger, watching things from the outside. This stranger’s perspective revealed things like this:
I was married to a man who wholly adored me in every way. (17 years later, our love is shining brighter than ever. And in time, our son True would join our family and stretch our hearts wider than we thought possible.) We lived in a beautiful apartment in sunny CA. I was loved and supported (and , with time, would grow an amazing team). I regularly giggled and shared my heart with a brilliant and kind group of new artist friends. My creative success continued to astonish me. I was in a flow. And that flow was a spiritual experience, a confirmation that I was on the right path.
All of these years later, I often think of that moment lying in bed. Sure, there will probably always be items on the ‘Could Be Improved’ list, but stepping into the eyes of a stranger for a few minutes revealed how many blessings I was already swimming in.
Give the stranger’s perspective a try. Maybe, like me, you’ll fall asleep tonight as your heart feels the fullness of the beauty and love that makes up your precious life.
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