During the past six months I have enjoyed following online courses where people talk about life and how to live well. I am pretty picky about who I choose to listen to! Once I have decided who to learn from I listen with an open mind as best I can.
An advice that comes up over and over again is to feel appreciation. I know it works. Nearly daily I tell myself to look for the good, to open my eyes and see the beauty and kindness around. I only need to go for a walk with my dog in nature. Watching him run around and enjoy himself always puts me in a good mood.
My current online teacher is Ken Honda, the Japanese writer and so-called Zen Millionaire. I find him extraordinary with his wisdom of life, kindness and sincerity. He mentions appreciation all the time and goes as far as to recommend to feel appreciative for everything that happens! Even when you find yourself in a difficult situation. To manage to do that I think it helps believing that life happens for you and not to you.
Maybe you have experienced something difficult that you later realise had to happen for something good to take place? Instead of judging a situation, Ken Honda advises to appreciate and say “thank you”. He claims all experiences contain a “gift”. Sometimes it is just hard to see the gift as it can be hidden.
I believe all challenging things in life happen so that we get an opportunity to learn something we haven’t understood yet. Now I’d like to take it further: I want to include Ken Honda’s advise to all challenging moments and feel appreciative as they happen!
Let’s keep life simple and kind. How about stepping out of too much seriousness and taking everything personally, and instead feeling appreciative of all that is coming our way? Writing this I am reminded of the poem The Guest House by Rumi, the 13th-century Persian poet. Perhaps time to read it again. It is a poem frequently used in mindfulness meditation courses. In case you would like to read it now here it is:
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Taken from SELECTED POEMS by Rumi, Translated by Coleman Barks (Penguin Classics, 2004).