Unlike many of the lojong slogans, this one is actually pretty simple and straightforward in that it means exactly what it says. We need to be grateful for the circumstances of our lives, for the people we encounter, and for the lessons that we learn as we go along. All of these things conspire to make us who we are right at this very moment, and we should definitely be grateful for that.
The first kind of gratitude that we should cultivate is what Buddhist teacher Acharya Judy Lief calls ‘conventional gratitude’. That is the gratitude that we feel for all of the good things in our lives, including our family, our spouse, our close friends, our pets, our homes, jobs, health. All of the things we can take for granted because they are always there. When one of these things is endangered or lost to us, we are forced to realize how much it meant to us. You would think that we feel this kind of gratitude regularly, but for many of us it is not true. As Lief says:
“Instead of appreciating what we have, we keep focusing on what we do not have. We are filled with grudges and resentments and have strong opinions about what we deserve and what is our due…In our commodified world, we see things as material for our consumption. We don’t ask, we just take. And in the blindness of our wealth and privilege, we don’t see how much we have to be grateful for. We take all that we have for granted and we live in a very ungrateful world.”
Most of us can benefit greatly by performing some type of gratitude practice. This can be a journal you keep yourself, as simple as a list of three things you are grateful for that day. Some yogis I follow on IG do gratitude postings regularly, or even daily. You don’t have to write these down, they can just be subjects for meditation.
Eventually, as our gratitude muscles become stronger, we can start to expand the practice of gratitude to those situations and people who we wish we did not have to encounter. They bring obstacles and frustrations into our lives, but we learn from these things as well. In fact, we may learn more from the difficult situations than the less difficult ones. After all, the slogan does remind us to be grateful to EVERYONE.