Every birthday is a celebration of the joys of living and connecting to my near and dear. This year as I completed my 37th journey around the glorious sun, I was and continue to be forever thankful for my universe… the circle of friends and family that enrich my life. Rewarding relationships and good health are truly the greatest forms of wealth. Introspecting about life’s many paradoxes, I felt intrigued that on one hand, flamboyant materialism is entangling the world in a vicious web. On the other hand, some of us are on the brink of a consciousness revolution, constantly looking for answers to unravel the mysticism of life.
Light Of Hope – Gratitude Jar
As I felt enveloped in the circle of blessings that surrounded me, I was overcome with feelings of gratitude for life and an appreciation for the journey that we all embark on, whatever be the destination. Yes, although my husband and I are middle class Americans with a long road ahead, a home mortgage to pay, college education trusts to fund and retirement savings to build, we were still far luckier than many others with no shelter or income. We have no convertible or lakeside property, but we have fuel to run the engine of our household and the light of hope to illuminate the future.
A Quaint Lavender Jar
However it is disturbing that the waves of consumerism are washing away the innocence of childhood, creating desires and wants while abandoning the simplicity of the mundane. Be it an American Doll with coordinated attire or the latest video game or remote controlled toy, the vine of desire is creeping into homes sometimes suffocating its families. Children are caught in that web of wanting what is beyond their reach without cherishing what is in their possession. What we need is an overflowing jar of gratitude, of being thankful and treasuring what we already own, whether tangible or intangible. With these positive and thankful sentiments, I decided to initiate a daily gratitude tradition both for myself and my kids aged 5 and 7.
Our consciousness does create our reality. The very same day that I had thoughts of starting a gratitude tradition, the quaintest lavender colored jar with “gratitude” inscribed on it crossed my path in the most unlikely of places when I was shopping for clothes. Yes, this gratitude jar belonged to my home and my life! A small mechanical pencil was a freebie with the jar. “Can I use that pencil for my Kumon?”, squealed my 5 year old daughter excitedly. It appeared so much easier than the large yellow pencils that she had to sharpen every day. “No sweetie. It’s a special pencil to write only your thank you notes”, I said.
I further explained to the kids that they were to write a small note everyday explaining what they are thankful for, fold the note and drop it into the jar with a sense of gratitude for that something special, whether an event, a person or a thing. Their first two notes that were dropped into the jar stole my heart . My 7 year old son’s note read:
“I am thankful that I won the tennis game and I moved to court 3 with the big kids”.
Vishnu loved sport and the innocence of thanking for playing well and winning a minor, non-competitive game tugged at my heart strings. Vishnu almost felt like he had won the Wimbledon which he had been watching on TV with his grandparents. I hope he continues to relish the simple and the mundane, I thought.
Next my 5 year old daughter’s note blew me away. Her handwritten note read:
“I’m thank full (meaning thankful) for my life and where I live”.
What did Shefali know about “life” in her 5 years of living to be full of thanks I thought? If only I could capture that innocence and depth of thought forever! I’ve photographed their first handwritten notes and will preserve the real notes as they are true gems to me. Gems that I will value in my treasure-box of memories as my children’s first official thank -you to the universe.
The gratitude jar is housed on my dresser-mirror. The kids of their own accord feel a sense of excitement as they write their thank-you notes and recite them to me before dropping them in. They even got my husband to write a note. As the jar is slowly but surely growing fuller, so is the sense of gratitude that is circulating around our household and our life. The day the jar is full, I’m looking forward to forming a family circle as we empty the jar and read the notes out one- by- one before we refill the jar again with a new set of thank-you notes and a fresh breath of gratitude. Life comes a full circle and starts again and what goes around will come around. We all need to unearth and discover those hidden gems of gratitude in the soil of our lives to treasure and to transform the mundane to the magnificent, the ordinary to the extra-ordinary.
Madhuri Bandla is a CPA who after 9 years in the corporate world, listened to her inner calling this summer of 2015 and applied the brakes on a turbo-charged career. She is following the voice of her heart and enjoying teaching classes to business school students, writing, travelling and exploring the deeper meaning of life. She loves writing about Hindu mythology, travel memoirs, parenting and women’s issues.