The Hawaiian word “Ho”omaika’I”, means to have a spirit of gratitude and thankfulness. “He’opu halau” means to have a heart as big as a house. This is said of a person who is kind, gracious and hospitable. This quality of loving kindness in encouraged in the Hawaiian culture as a way of expressing aloha or love. During this month of November when we celebrate Thanksgiving, let us remember that thankfulness, kindness and generosity are qualities that are learned, and take patience and practice to develop.
We learn to be grateful as kids when the adults around us talk about thankfulness and why it is important. They may also teach us to write “mahalo” or thank you cards and to express thanks with smiles, hugs and offerings of food. But, we may not have grown up in families that taught us to value developing an attitude of gratitude. The good news is that it is never too late to acquire this skill. We can even learn how to be appreciate and express thankfulness when situations seem especially challenging.
These times of pain that life bring, are often the greatest opportunities for spiritual growth in our lives and in the lives of those we love. Yet, rarely do you hear a person say “Thank you for this loss” or “Thanks for this pain in my life”. It is easy to give thanks for the simple things like the sky, ocean, family, friends, having a place to live, and health, but giving thanks for the unexpected hardships that life brings takes a mature soul’s perspective.
This response can be learned as an individual nurtures the awakening of their higher self in their life. The shift from being a victim to life circumstances to being a conscious participant in life’s drama, is a huge quantum leap in consciousness. To become gratitude for painful soul growth experiences is to recognize that true aliveness comes from embracing all of life, not just the good and easy times. Some of my most profound thankfulness has come, after being shaken awake by the death of a friend. Suddenly just the gift of life is a miracle to be cherished and honored. Anything that I take for granted, becomes valuable when it is lost. To learn to be a true spiritual master upon this plane of suffering and strife is to cultivate an attitude of gratitude regardless of the situation. There is always somebody worse off than you and this perspective can indeed bring humility and grace. Each hardship is an opportunity to grow in faith and love in a divine plan.
With a crisis, there often comes the acceptance that we need to allow or invite help or support from another. Crisis is also an opportunity to become more sensitive to the feelings of others and develop empathy and compassion. We become closer to others through adversities if we are willing to gratefully reach out rather than withdraw when times get tough
I can now say that I am grateful for both the good times and the bad times in life. I have learned that the easy flowing periods of life, comfort me when the challenges come. Rather than letting the hurdles stop me from being grateful and trusting in life, I can now say “Thank you”. Thank you infinite universe for this opportunity to stretch beyond my known way of being, into a larger perspective. This is the nature of life: to humble and teach us to trust that no matter how things appear there is a lot to be grateful for.
May your heart be as big as a house, and may you have a very Happy Thanksgiving.