“Wake up every morning being thankful for the gift of life with the thought that something wonderful is going to happen.”- Unknown
“What gift is this person or situation offering me?” Asking this question is a practice I’ve been engaging in for a few weeks now.
Each morning when I get up, I begin my day with a gratitude meditation, thanking the Universe for the gifts I will receive and give today. I also ask that I recognise when the gifts are being presented, especially the ones with questionable wrapping.
I am sure you will agree that recognising the gift in the sunrise or the birth of a child or a job promotion is pretty easy to do, right?
But what about the gifts that come in a different type of wrapping, like someone giving you a bad drive or a sick family member or a significant relationship ending. Are we always able to see the gifts in these situations?
I can only imagine your response right now. A gift? How can any of these situations be considered a gift? Gifts are supposed to be pleasant and easy, right?
Well let’s examine your past relationships for a moment. If you take an honest, objective look at each of your previous relationships and allow yourself to see all of the lessons you learnt from them, wouldn’t you consider them gifts?
I know I can honestly say that each and every relationship I experienced, taught me something valuable about myself and about life in general. Each provided me with immense insight, information, and wisdom, which helped me to grow as a being and aided me in the next relationship I entered.
The truth is; however, I was not always able to see the gifts presented when the relationship became challenging or when it was drawing to an end. No, most of the times, instead of being open to the gifts, I struggled, fought, and even cursed it because of its rough, crude, and painful wrapping.
For most of us, our current default response to challenging life situations is to resist them. This then prevents us from being open to the gifts life is always presenting to us.
The question then begs, why is it that our current instinctive response to perceived difficult situations is one of resistance? I believe the primary answer lies in our conditioning.
For the majority of us, our conditioned or socialized mind often categorizes our experiences into either good or bad. These good and bad labels were taught to us when we were children, by the influential voices in our lives and overtime became the predominant way in which we perceived the world.
The issue with these conditioned labels, however, is that they essentially determine our experiences. Therefore, if we perceive something to be good then it follows that our experience will also be good and if we perceive something to be bad then our experience will also be bad.
From this perspective, it can therefore be said that our thinking and related experiences are pretty much predetermined by our conditioning.
This then explains why two people can go through the same experience but have vastly different accounts or viewpoints of it. It’s all based on our practiced perception.
This notion is both dauting and liberating. Dauting because we don’t actually get to choose how we perceive or experience something because of our conditioning. But liberating because in spite of our conditioning, we have the ability to reprogram and train our minds to perceive all life situations, regardless of their wrapping, in a way that serves us.
“There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” – William Shakespeare.
I absolutely love this quote by William Shakespeare because it speaks to the malleable nature of our life situations. Once we truly understand that nothing is fixed but everything is subject to interpretation, life changes in a magical and expansive way.
And this is where the practice of asking, “What gift is this person or situation offering me?”, becomes a game changer. Instead of being subjected to a reality of good or bad, the practice has the potential of opening you up to seeing all of life as a series of opportunities waiting to be uncovered.
Since I’ve been consciously asking this question, my mind has been opened to see the possibilities presented by every situation, instead of the perceived limitations I once saw. Overtime, by asking this question, I have managed to shift my mind to see all situations as gifts waiting to be opened.
It goes without saying that this practice has caused a drastic shift in my life, contributing to feeling more in control, more centered, calm and collected, even when faced with troubling or challenging situations.
Admittedly, I still negatively react to challenging circumstances. However, I rarely stay in that negative, closed state for very long. As soon as I am able to recall my practice of being open to the gifts, almost immediately I feel myself calming down and shifting into a more open internal space.
While, the meaning of the presented gift may not always be immediately apparent, being mentally and emotionally centered, in spite of the external circumstances, keeps me sane, at peace and clear on the required next course of action.
This practice has helped me to see that gifts come in all forms, shapes, sizes and varieties. They don’t always give us the warm, fuzzy, joyful feeling that we hope every experience will provide. No, sometimes, a gift may cause you to question things, explore a different way of being, deepen your faith and trust, develop patience, strengthen your resistance, learn how to see your value and worth and push you to show up fully to life.
These are the types of gifts however, which usually come in questionable wrapping and are the ones we resist and struggle to accept but are the ones that provide us with immense value and richness.
This therefore is the intention of the practice, to help you get ahead of the resistance and struggle by training your mind to see opportunities and possibilities, regardless of the appearance of situations.
Disclaimer: If you do decide to implement this practice, please remember that reprogramming your mind, does take consistency and repetition. This is why the recommendation is a practice. Overtime, you will begin to see the results of your practice evident in the way you perceive your life situations and by extension your experiences. So, allow yourself time.
If you take an honest look at all of life, I am sure you will agree that every aspect of it has a purpose. The trees, the birds, the oceans, the planets, the stars, people, and situations, all have unique purposes, which contribute to the beautiful circle of life.
While it is often easy for us to see and accept the purpose of things we perceive as pleasant, recognising that what we perceive as unpleasant also has a purpose, only if we allow ourselves to be open to them. “Life is not happening to you; life is happening for you.”- Tony Robbins.
Learning to be receptive and available to all aspects of life is a gift in itself, one that keeps on giving and giving in what can only be described as a generous, expansive and joyful way.