We live in a world in which systemic cruelty, discrimination, violence, and poverty are pervasive. Sometime we ourselves suffer at the hands of these injustices, and other times it is the suffering of others that we face. There are days when being “awake” to the truth of the conditions of the world is more than our hearts feel able to bear. At times such as these, we can experience equal parts outrage, overwhelm, heartbreak, and powerlessness. Our wellspring of empathy can seem emptied, and we may feel exhausted by our concerns for the world, and the global family to which we belong. What is there to “do?”
Grateful Living can be most challenging when we are faced with incomprehensible pain and cruelty, but these are the moments when taking stock of the opportunities at hand can offer us greater agency. As Nelson Mandela said when he was released from 27 years in jail, “As I walked out the door…toward my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” Liberation and social change require action. Grateful living asks us to “stop” to experience our heart’s truth, to “look” in order to notice what resources we have at hand with which we can make a difference, and to “go” – taking action that expresses our deepest commitments to a world with peace and justice for all.
Imagine training female prison inmates in stand-up comedy. How would this heal them or bring feelings of gratitude to light? To learn more, check out this short film from the Gratitude Revealed Project.
(2007) On 4 February 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave what was to be his last sermon, ‘‘The Drum Major Instinct,’’ from the pulpit of Ebenezer Baptist Church. This is an excerpt from the sermon set to music. “If you want to be important—wonderful. If you want to be recognized—wonderful. If you want to be great—wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. (Amen) That’s a new definition of greatness.”
Gratitude, it seems, is a key—perhaps the key—to feeling more satisfied with your life. It improves your relationships with loved ones. It’s even good for your heart. Learn more about these and many other cutting-edge findings in The Science of Gratitude. The program combines scientific research with personal stories illustrating the benefits and obstacles to feeling truly grateful.
Global Force for Healing connects indigenous and remote projects to each other and creates co-equal partnerships between groups of global citizens, with love and compassion at the heart of each initiative.
(July, 2011) Actor Thandie Newton tells the story of finding her “otherness” — first, as a child growing up in two distinct cultures, and then as an actor playing with many different selves. A warm, wise talk for which we are grateful.
May you taste the colors of sunset, may you touch the chorus of dawn, may…
(November 2015) “I get up everyday to work, I get up to study, because I have a reason – the construction of my own happiness.” In Venezuela, organized communities are building their own homes with financial support from the government.
(On Being, September 2015) In this season of political madness, I’m grateful to have a “charm” against the language of politics, writes Parker J. Palmer…
(Yes! Magazine, August 2015) A new study shows that meditation can transform racial bias at any age.
Imagine a restaurant where there are no prices on the menu and where the check reads $0.00 with only this footnote: “Your meal was a gift from someone who came before you. To keep the chain of gifts alive, we invite you to pay it forward for those who dine after you.” That’s Karma Kitchen, a volunteer-driven experiment in generosity.
(TEDx, February 2013) Nipun Mehta at TEDxMasala. When one of Gandhi’s chappals famously dropped onto the track as he was boarding a train, without hesitation, he let his other chappal also fall. Why? Well, so that whoever would find one would have a usable pair. The kind of generosity that someone like Gandhi practiced, with an alignment of body, speech, and mind, is accessible to each of us…
(CBS News, September 2015) Open arms await the Pope in the United States and 80,000 have vowed to follow in his footsteps, with acts of kindness. It’s called the “Walk With Francis Pledge.”
(2011) Watch as the camera tracks an act of kindness as its passed from one individual to the next and manages to boomerang back to the person who set it into motion. Gratefulness fuels the process.
Inequality and the struggle for social justice have been depicted in films since the silent era. Here are the films watched at a 2015 film seminar at Esalen.
(July 2015) At this year’s American Library Association’s Andrew Carnegie Medals for Exellence in Fiction and Nonfiction award ceremony Bryan Stevenson took home the Carnegie Medal in nonfiction for Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption. Here is Stevenson’s powerful speech delivered on the same day that President Obama gave a moving eulogy for pastor Clementa Pinckney, who was among the nine murdered a week earlier in a heinous act of racial violence in Charleston.
(July 2015) In Columbia SC, James Taylor was joined onstage by Charleston choir Lowcountry Voices. Together, they sang “Shed a Little Light” in memory of the victims of the Charleston shooting and their families. The entire audience stood in support.
(2015) Muslims and Jews prayed together side-by-side in public spaces across Los Angeles, in an effort to show that peace is possible. “We were just so surprised that we could do this together and it’s very similar,” said participant Maryam Saleemi. “It was kind of like an ‘Aha Moment’ that we’re praying to the same God, why aren’t we doing this all the time together?”
(On Being, 2015) “Race is a little bit like gravity,” john powell says: experienced by all, understood by the few. He is an esteemed legal scholar and thinker who counsels all kinds of people and projects on the front lines of our present racial anguish and longings. Race is relational, he reminds us. It’s as much about whiteness as about color. And it largely plays out, as we’re learning through new science, in our unconscious minds.
(2012) When war between Israel and Iran seemed imminent, Israeli graphic designer Ronny Edry shared a poster on Facebook of himself and his daughter with a bold message: “Iranians … we [heart] you.” Other Israelis quickly created their own posters with the same message — and Iranians responded in kind. The simple act of communication inspired surprising Facebook communities like “Israel loves Iran,” “Iran loves Israel” and even “Palestine loves Israel.”
An e-course by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat. “Practicing Spirituality with Peacemakers” offers an alternative way of living that is built on the strong spiritual foundations of nonviolence, living together harmoniously, forgiving and being reconciled with others, and seeking common ground.
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