As a new year kicks off, it’s always worth taking stock of how we view our lives. Too often the attitude is “good riddance” to the past year, especially if it was a challenging one. But there is no growth in this mindset. If our goal is to evolve, and grow as individuals, then the perspective should be one of introspection. What kinds of things did we go through, what were our experiences, and what can we learn from it all?
You may be familiar with set menus in some restaurants where multiple courses are served according to the chef’s design. As diners, we never know what will come next. We simply sit with anticipation, and when something appears, we delve in with curiosity and excitement. The flavors and presentations vary and are not always to our liking. Some courses are delightful while others contain ingredients that baffle or sometimes even repulse our palate. But we know there is a flow and a plan, and we have trust that it all leads to an amazing gastronomic experience.
Life is a little like that. You never know what is coming next, and you may not like it. But it’s not about likes and dislikes in the end. It’s about the experiences, how they impact us, and what we come away with. Just as we look forward to the next course, we can look forward to the unfolding of the moments of our lives. Just as the chef may present the most common ingredient in a fresh and unexpected way that surprises us, we can wonder in amazement of life revealing itself every day when we stop taking things for granted.
The greatest gift we can give ourselves is the ability to see everything afresh. The exuberance of existence shines in every moment, but we have become dull to it and miss it too easily.
As we mature into this witnessing process of open and curious observance, we can apply it not just to the events of our daily lives, but to ourselves as well. Everyone can use a dose of introspection, in fact that’s the missing ingredient in humanity today. We can look within and observe how this body/mind complex operates. What are its compulsions, and its triggers? In what ways does it react? What are its patterns and what does it see as its limitations? Is it balanced or polarized? What kind of energy does it feed on? Is it fearful or loving? How sensitive is it to circumstance? Where does it live… The past? The future? Or in the Now?
And finally, just as we should do when receiving a meal, let’s bring an aura of gratitude to our lives. When we show up with appreciation and thankfulness, everything is just naturally sweeter. Because we don’t walk around with an air of entitlement, everything is received in delight. Life is a gift in plain sight, but few ever find the eyes to see it that way.
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