Righteous indignation was my new best friend. BFFs fo eva! We snarked. We were witty and we were oh, so right. I felt like crap. I was blue. I was negative, depressed and angry and I did not know how to change my situation.
I have the heart of an academic, so I started reading. Everywhere I looked I heard the theme of gratitude. It sounded like a simple first step in turning things around. I have tons to be thankful for, but I was not feeling it, not expressing it. Beating myself up about not remembering to be grateful didn’t seem like a step in the right direction. What could I do to develop a practice of gratitude?
Photo courtesy of my husband, Burkhard Saur.
Then I remembered the Prayer Flags I saw in the Himalayas.
The image of prayers carried by the wind over otherworldly mountains to the heavens always stuck with me. I found a bell we bought in India and hung it in a high traffic area of my house. My commitment was to ring it every time I walked by and give thanks for something, for anything. Every time. The thanks then rides the sound waves out through my house, letting everyone know someone is grateful in this moment.
Sometimes I was thankful for something as simple as ice cubes. It did not have to be a moment worthy of enlightenment! I just wanted to practice gratitude. It went well. I enjoyed ringing the bell and sending out my thanks. Then stuff happened… I still rang the bell, occasionally, when I remembered. It lost some of it’s pull, some of it’s magic.
My gratitude bell.
One day a coworker reminded me that I had told her about my gratitude bell. She was so inspired by my story that she bought a bell and introduced the practice in her house. People would just jump up and run ring the bell. Everyone knew they thought of something to be grateful for. She told all her friends and they installed gratitude bells in their homes. The gratitude bell rippled from person to person. It had become a gentle movement through a network of people. I felt enormous gratitude that I could have a positive impact on so many. And by reminding me of the power of my original purpose, the power of gratitude, they inspired me to get back to ringing my bell.
Do you have a gratitude bell? How do you practice gratitude?