Stop, Look, Go is the golden. rule for crossing the street, playing tennis, running, photography, and as I learned today, gratitude. The US-based Austrian monk, Brother David Steindl-Rast has written wonderful books on finding inner peace and happiness by addressing individual topics in depth. Available in both German and English, Brother David’s language is clear, simple, digestible, and carries a profound insight that leaves you wondering why you have not been doing this before.
Have a look at his TED Talk on gratitude and happiness (1993):
Brother David reminds us that we often make the mistake of being grateful only when we are happy, when it should be the other way around.
To be happy we need to be grateful.
Once again, the Universe is sending messages, and asking that I stop and listen. During mass this morning, the reading and sermon were about having and being.
Having more does not make you more.
Material possessions and wealth do not make you a better person. I stopped to look around my house and life: having four cameras will not make me a better photographer. A more expensive MacBook will not make me a better writer. A palatial home will not make me a better host. More money in the bank will not make me a better friend.
Yes, Universe, I am listening! And discarding. As Brother David said, be grateful for the moment, be in the moment, and don’t worry about being happy all the time. There will be difficult moments that are impossible to be grateful for, and on those days, you give thanks for simply being alive.
I have toyed with the idea of becoming a recluse and a hermit more than once in recent months. I love the concept of not having to deal with superficial pleasantries, to comply with social norms, and simply be alone with my keyboard to write to my heart’s content. If only there was a viable way to finance this!
Nevertheless, I am grateful for all that I have in my heart and soul, what I have achieved, the terrible moments survived, and the disappointments along the way. The meagre material possessions do not define me, and hence are not essential to my persona. My grandfather’s headboard was not the core of my being, so I was able to part with it. My mother’s dishes had nothing to do with what she taught me in the kitchen, so I had no problem discarding them. Detachment from material possessions allows me to travel lighter in life, or so I am learning.