Often as I walk through Central Park, I thank workers along the way for the help they offer in keeping the park a wonderful place to spend time. Yesterday I thanked a worker and he said, “We love this park, so we love this work.” This morning I thanked a garbage man for helping to make our city more livable. I always thank the postal carriers at both my office and at home when I see them, along with people from all the various delivery services that bring packages filled with things that make my life work. Without these people, life would be very different.
As I move through New York City, I pay attention to people whose job it is to support the rest of us, people who help make our lives easier to navigate. For this week’s practice in conscious living, I invite you to do the same and, if you are already someone who thanks people along the way, ramp it up a bit and see how that feels. Gratitude brings its gifts not only to those we thank but to us, as well. It has the power to lift our spirits, as well as those who receive gratitude from us.
Our sense of well-being is nourished when we engage in expressing gratitude to the people around us. We are more likely to remember that we are part of a community and that, without the whole community, we wouldn’t be able to live our lives in the ways we do. This awareness of community can also remind us of the underlying interdependence that is fundamental to human existence. We depend on one another for just about every aspect of our lives and taking the time to thank people we don’t know and may never see again helps to reinforce an awareness of just how much we need one another.
As you explore this practice, notice what happens in your body when you pay attention to the community around you and express gratitude to all it brings you. Whether we are in a small community or a large one, it is the presence of other people offering their support that allows us to live as we do. And then there are the larger communities of people working to support us in ways we may not often think about. For example, the people who take care of the waterways and the intricate networks that bring us water that is available whenever we turn on the faucet. There are the people who keep electricity available and they may live and work far away from where we are when we flip a switch and light up a room. Then, there are all the people who cultivate the food we eat, the people who harvest it, those who deliver it. The connections go on and on.
Allow your expression of gratitude to radiate out farther and farther and notice how that feels. Pay particular attention to the quality of your internal experience and how you feel as you move through the world looking for opportunities to express gratitude to the people who contribute to your quality of life.
As with all these practices, there are no right answers as to how to do them and there’s always an invitation to notice and accept any mixed feelings that may arise as you explore your experience. It’s all information, all a way of enhancing your awareness of how you move through your world. Also, please remember to bring along curiosity as your constant companion and to pat gently on the head any judgments that may arise, allowing them to move on through.