For the last two posts, I've been talking about perspective and insignificance. In this post I'll be wrapping it up with the payoff - Gratitude. Before we get into gratitude, I want to go back to the beginning so that we can see how the whole thing comes together.
When I talked about my moment of perspective (the big picture universe stuff), I said how it all led me to a moment of picturing the sun exploding and how in the grand scheme of the universe it would pretty much be an insignificant event. And in that moment, I was left with a sense of "Why am I worrying about anything?" In the big picture, the small stuff doesn't matter much and because of that you are in a fortunate position and that leads to a sense of gratitude. And that's what's it's all about.
So why is Gratitude important? The way I see it, it's gratitude that leads to a more content life. When you can look at your life and have a sense of gratitude about where you are, then you are naturally going to be happier. It doesn't take lots of money and a big house to feel good about where you are in life. You don't need a great job either. I am lucky enough to have a great job now, but it doesn't mean that the job doesn't have its difficulties. There are times when the job is tedious and tiring. There are days when my brain hurts from problem solving certain issues. I have a two hour commute (each way!!), in L.A. traffic and that's enough to break any spirit. But here's the thing, at the end of the day, I love my job. My perspective for this is the fact that I used to work in construction and I wasn't very happy doing that job and it was physically grueling on my body. So no matter what difficulties my new job may throw at me, it's all better than the type of work I was doing before (for me). For many of you, it's probably going to be a little difficult to be grateful about your jobs, but remember that even having a job is an extremely fortunate position to be in. Perspective is the key to start this process.
So let's bring gratitude away from work and money and let's talk about the other stuff in our lives. I'll keep using myself as an example as it's the simplest way for me to explain this stuff and it shows that I'm not just saying this stuff, but also practicing this stuff. Last year, my father passed away after a very difficult end. If that wasn't enough, he died 6 days before my birthday and we buried him exactly a year after one of my greatest artistic accomplishments (the unveiling of the Lucky Baldwin monument). Financially it was difficult because my father didn't exactly prepare well and there were a lot of things that needed to be covered in a short period of time. As usual, I put my feelings aside in order to keep everything straight and handle what I needed to for the rest of my family. Probably not the best way to go through life but I'm a very pragmatic person and crying about my dad at that moment wasn't going to get things accomplished. After a few days had passed, I started to spend time thinking about all that had passed. The difficult moments and the difficult calls that I had to make. I looked around at the world and on a drive to pick up some food (hmmm... Apparently I have a lot of these epiphanies in the car), I noticed how all the people around me were just carrying on with their lives. Even I was on my way to pick up food. Such a mundane task, but there I was, moving on with my life. It was the genesis of my views on perspective. When I saw how my father's passing was pretty insignificant to the world as a whole, I was oddly comforted. Life moved on. Sadness went away. I, and the rest of my family, were still here to marvel at the world around us. To enjoy the beauty of this life. I knew that my dad wanted us to move on with our lives after his passing, as quickly as possible and not dwell on the fact that he wasn't around anymore. Feeling all this left me with a great sense of gratitude for life itself. Being alive, at this moment, is the most fortunate thing we can experience. I know that it all sounds really hippie and feel good-y, but it's true. And when you take the time to delve into the idea of perspective, insignificance and gratitude, I believe you'll start to feel the same way.
The last thing I want to leave you with is along the same lines of all this, but it's something I've used in my life for almost twenty years. It's a simple phrase, but it's as true as anything I have ever known. "Happiness is a choice". We choose to be angry at things. We choose to be upset by what people say and do. We choose the meaning that we give to events in our lives. And so, we can also choose to be happy. It's a simple thing, that's very difficult to do. It takes work and practice. But that simple phrase can change your life. When you find yourself feeling mad or sad or depressed, remember that the way we feel is up to us, and if it's up to us, then why would we choose to be angry or sad? Choose Happiness!!
I hope that this whole journey was good for you guys. If you got anything from it or if you have any questions or comments about all this stuff, please leave a comment or send me an email. Next month, I'll be back to art posts, so thanks for coming along.