Life is wildly precious. It is filled with beauty beyond measure that can wrench your heart wide open and shine the light in forgotten corners that are otherwise steeped in shadow. When I attended my first large Thich Nhat Hanh retreat in 2007 I came away with a deep belief, that I still carry with me, that in the world, in life, there is more beauty than sorrow. Which is also to say, there is more light than darkness. We may get caught in the realm of thinking that it is the opposite – that there is more suffering, more dis-ease than goodness but I see the world as containing more gifts to be grateful for over burdens to be embittered by. It’s up to us which realm we live in. That in which cultivates joy and freedom or that in which perpetuates suffering and holds us down.
One of the most instrumental tools I’ve found to practice honoring and embracing life is through volunteering. When we give freely our valuable time and presence to someone or something else bigger than us, to those in need, the environment, or the wealth of other great and worthy causes, we are cracking open our field of vision and deepening our understanding of life itself. And when we begin to widen our perspective of the world and all of its inhabitants the cultivation of gratitude is inevitable.
Those that highly regard life as magnificently spectacular are those that are reverently grateful for what is. Life is a great gift. Practice gratitude. Practice seeing beauty. Practice smiling. Let us practice living our lives for all of us and not just ourselves alone.