Today, as I continue to reflect upon and write about “Present Living” in this series on progressive mindfulness, I embrace and acknowledge the disappointment that exists for me right now.
I’m sure that a blog on “thankfulness” would be much more fun to read! Unfortunately, the transforming power of authentic gratitude is obscured by the cliche-ridden, pop culture manner in which we’ve often demanded that each other “be grateful.” “Well,” one kind friend says to the other as they suffer, “At least you have (fill in the blank)…”
Screw the “at leasts!” I don’t want to live an “at least” kind of life. Do you?
This pervasive brand of rationalization asks us to de-emphasize our problems and disappointments by “counting our blessings.” A million inspiring quotes are at hand through a quick Google search, or a perusal of Facebook and Instagram, to guide us in the thankfulness crusade. This brand and its tributaries of slogans means well, but it’s not sustainable because our problems and disappointments will still be there amid any attempted diversions.
The mindfulness approach to gratitude, instead, always dovetails with noticing and accepting what we don’t like about our present situation. We don’t try to minimize it, but instead fully embrace the pain and feel it deep in our bodies through chakra observation, as well as sort it out with our minds.
In my opinion, it’s a signpost of resilient maturity and emotional intelligence to acknowledge disappointment and rest with it in its fullness. And while this willingness to be present with our disappointments as well as our gratitude doesn’t preclude future disappointment, it often reveals our tendencies and habits that might contribute to disappointment…and shines light on how we might continue to grow.
And that’s where passionate gratitude can and should be unleashed: gratitude regarding the opportunities we see to transcend disappointment, to live with it and learn from it and not try to minimize it.
Take a few minutes right now to hone in on your present disappointments. Fully explore any associated emotions, as well as physical symptoms currently popping up anywhere in your body. What is disappointment teaching you? What energizes you as you accept what is there?
May we not settle for medicating ourselves in any manner that numbs us to present realities, but instead dive headlong into them and learn to swim.