Another lockdown was bound to come at some point. Some of us were prepared while others had pinned their hopes on a gradual recovery. As many an industry started to gather something that resembled momentum, the news of another suspension of business-as-usual hit many like a wet kipper across the jowls (to put it politely).
This time is different to the last. The reality that we as a society are now establishing some sort of lockdown culture, both through law and behaviour, is starting to seep in. Whether this is realistic, practicable or just totally insane is a moot point and one which will no doubt be canvassed in various social media comments boxes and future GCSE history courses.
That said, it does feel like we are in a different reality and 2019 seems like a lifetime ago already.
Whatever reality we are in, it bites and the bite this time has been more of a wide-mouthed jaw clamp for many whose lives and incomes have been shaken up by the crisis.
One of the biggest challenges that we might experience to our wellbeing at this time is a sense of lack. Our ways of life have been removed from us at fairly short notice. There are many who have lost businesses, money or income. There is a real fear of survival that grips us. Many have fears about keeping their homes. This is a time of untold stress. In addition, the general sense of denial of our physical freedoms and choices brings about feelings of grief, frustration and anger. It is a huge shake up and incomparable to anything that we have ever experienced.
So I expect that right now if I were to tell you to use gratitude as a means of allaying fears of survival or feelings of lack, you would probably be wanting to tell me to eff off with my hippy nonsense. I get this. I get that being grateful for the Autumn colours isn’t going to pay the mortgage but at the same time, if you can cultivate the attitude it may just make you more attuned to finding solutions: or at least, more attuned than if you sit in fear, paralysed by panic.
I have historically found it hard to focus on gratitude as a means of generating more in my life. I have usually been focused on what I don’t have in a bid to motivate myself to earn more, particularly being a single parent. However, I recently became aware that actually, it wasn’t my status which made me feel like I was constantly needing to keep the wolf from the door but an innate and deeply ingrained survival fear. I expect this is hard wired in my DNA and comes from my cavemen ancestors. However not all humans share this feeling. There are some people who never worry and seem to attract money like a bee to honey.
While it is practicable and sensible to keep half an eye on the coffers, an obsessive focus with not having financial resources can withdraw our attention away from the other intangible bounties in our lives, such as the people we love, our pets, nature, music or art. All of these things make our lives abundant. We notice them more if we use gratitude for what we have in each moment rather than worrying about what we may not have in the future or being resentful for what we don’t have now or what we didn’t have in the past. It is a way of re-focusing our energy.
On Saturday I decided to set my intention to be grateful for the day: for my cosy house; for my family; for the robin I saw in the park, for the Autumn colours and for the food that I have in my fridge. It was more of an attitude that I tuned into rather than an active decision to say thank you for each ‘thing’. It was a feeling. There was also a realisation that came with it: that for me abundance was not just money or material possessions but also time, peace, opportunities to create and connections with others. For me, being grateful was a conscious decision to be in my heart rather than to let my negative thoughts and emotions rule the roost. It was an active acknowledgment that life is generally continuously benevolent towards me, even when the shit hits the fan, so to speak.
I then experienced a number of happenings which brought me more gratitude. I received a surprise gift from my mother in the post. Someone fixed my bike for free. I had an unexpected but happy encounter with some friends I hadn’t seen for a while. Someone gave me the remainder of their water at the bike wash so I didn’t have to buy a token. While these things may not seem like big things, they illustrated that the more grateful I was the more I seemed to be able to create events that would bring me gratitude. Even if it were the case that I simply noticed the things I received in way that I wouldn’t normally, the feeling that I had was that I was experiencing better outcomes or hitting more‘wins’.
Gratitude is not just a reflection of all of the good things but it also works for the bad things too. So I can appreciate the intense darker emotion that I felt yesterday because it has brought me the opportunity to practice being more loving and compassionate with myself. I can be grateful for the loss of a social life as it has made me more self-reliant. I can be grateful for the drop in income as it has made me question what truly makes me happy.
Abundance is not a physical state of having ‘stuff’ – money, a car, a boyfriend or whatever. It is an energy resonance which simply allows you to open more to the flow of life. It is a present and creative energy. The way to change the abundance that you have is to look at your life differently and start seeing it as a benevolent force, which brings you some if not all of what you need. It’s not just about money but also about the intangibles too – connection with people you love, animals or nature; time; hobbies, music, small moments of joy, family and health. We have been living in such an acquisitive society that we have grown up with a lack consciousness; ‘I will never be happy unless I get this or achieve that’ whereas a more helpful attitude is ‘I’m happy now because I have this and that’. Gratitude is not about the future. It is about appreciating what you have now and in every moment always. It is about valuing presence because life is fleeting and ever changing. What may be here one moment may not the next.
This is a time when we are being challenged as to our attachments and what we rely on in the external. There is a call for us to realise that much of what we need is inside of ourselves. Even when you’re angry and feel like you want to stay in bed all day, cultivating a gratitude attitude builds resilience and brings energy in a way that negativity or fear doesn’t. It is now time for us to harness these inner resources as they are by far the most valuable resources that we have.
Copyright Fizzy Wisdom 2020