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How do you plant a seed of gratitude?

Note from Ned

Nov. 8, 2016

Today is election day.  I can hardly wait to learn of the results.

I think it’s fair to say this is an election like no other; the ugliness that emanated from the process is unlike anything I have experienced in my lifetime. Whether you will be pleased or disappointed in the outcome–and if you consider positions other than the presidency as well as the ballot questions in every state, it’s likely no one was 100% pleased–I want to say to you, “Well, here we are, alive and kicking, so let’s get on with our lives and improve the world.”  Let me suggest one way how.

I did an episode of my “Distraction” podcast today (which you can download and subscribe to on iTunes) in which I talked a bit about gratitude.  After living through the months leading up to this election, I thought it would be good for us all to name and cherish what we’re grateful for (having spent months being made painfully aware of what we are definitely not grateful for).

I was talking about how to rid your mind of the weeds that grow there, like kudzu, crowding out the lovely flowers that should abound there.  I proposed one way to get rid of those weeds, or at least cut them way back, namely, to plant seeds of gratitude.

How do you plant a seed of gratitude?  You pause for a moment–you have to pause, you can’t do this on the run–and then you look out across the terrain of your life and you identify one thing–one person, one place, one possession, one talent, one quality, one memory, one bit of good luck–for which you feel grateful.

That feeling of gratitude plants the seed.  Let’s say, for example, in my case I feel grateful to have a mind that allows me to write these words to you right now.  Once I name it–as I just did–and let the feeling of gratitude wash through me, then the seed is planted.

The next step is always the next step with any seed you plant.  You tend to it, water it, make sure it gets sunlight and does not get frostbite or be attacked by hostile bugs and vermin.  Each day you fuss over the little seed you planted.  Each day you look for growth.  Pretty soon that seed has germinated, sunk roots, and broken the surface of the place where you planted it.  Next thing you know, it is growing on its own.  You still have to tend to it, but not as often, as its own strength sustains it.

If tomorrow I come back to that little seed I just planted–the seed of feeling grateful that my mind allows me to write well enough to be read–and water it with a few seconds of attention and appreciation, then the little seed will do what tended-to seeds do, and start to grow.

Before very long, that seed will have broken the surface and will begin to displace some weed of self-doubt that I have allowed to grow for too long.  My little seed will turn into a strong and beautiful flower in my mind.  I will be able to see it as I walk through my mind every day.  I will see beauty, rather than ugly weeds.

We’ve all seen way too many ugly weeds over the past months.  I propose that all of us plant some seeds of gratitude, water them, fuss over them, and watch beauty displace the ugliness.

We all have the ability to be gardeners of our minds.  We can all grow such lush and lovely flowers there.  We can also help others do the same.  When you pay a compliment, for example, you are planting a little seed of self-regard in that person.  With luck, the person will be able to accept it and water it himself or herself.

We can all be regular Johnny or Jill Appleseeds, planting beauty in ourselves and in each other wherever we go.

Let’s get to it.

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