Attitude of Gratitude

Jim:    Well, Mike, welcome to our 13th episode of Fishing Without Bait.

Mike:    Lucky 13.  Oh.

Jim:    Yes, and for those of you who are superstitious or are participating, we’ll be coming up on Halloween season soon.

Mike:    Yes.  It is the beginning of October as you’re hearing this.

Jim:    So, let’s make this 13th episode memorable for everyone out there – all of our listeners.

Mike:    I hope it’s an episode on fear again.

Jim:    The idea here is that, by now, I’m hoping that our listeners are getting a little bit of conception about what fishing without bait is all about  And, once again, I’m going to ask you, Mike, how is your perception or conception of fishing without bait?  What is it for you, today?

Mike:    For me today, it is again taking notice.  At this point, I am working on my expectation.  As you’re – especially doing business, you have expectations of other people and how they do business.  And, you’re wondering why won’t they just do the thing that helps me do my job better.  And, then you just step back and say, “It’s okay.”  They have their stuff going on.  They have different perceptions.  And, helping to manage that a little more.  It’s definitely helping to keep things a little more in perspective, and keep myself a little less stressed as I do more and more business-type things. 

Jim:    So, you have goals and ambitions.  

Mike:    Right.  My battle had always been, “Oh live  your life without expectations.”  And, to me it’s like if I don’t have any expectations, how am I going to evolve.  And, then we’ve talked about a lot of what that evolution can be, that learning – the comfort zone and everything as we’ve gone through these episodes.

Jim:    It’s wonderful to have goals and ambitions.  However, it’s when we set definitive expectations of ourselves, and many times unrealistic goals and expectations.  

Mike:    Right.  And, I think one part of it is there’s unrealistic, and then there’s ones you think should be realistic – and again, kind of reassessing.  People have a life plan.  And, they say, “Well, I have to do this by the time I’m 30.”  And, it didn’t work out quite that way.  And, you have to readjust a little bit.

Jim:    Many people – and many books are written, in fact philosophers for thousands of years have made careers out of searching for the meaning of life, have they not?

Mike:    Right.  It’s really good to come up with a bunch of answers for a thing that we don’t have the answer to.

Jim:    Absolutely.  So, if we’re searching for something, what does that mean, Mike?  If we’re searching for something.  If you’re searching for your keys, what does that tell me?

Mike:    I’ve lost my keys – as happens.

Jim:    When we’re searching for something, we either have lost it or perhaps we have never had it to begin with.  What we’re talking about – and this certainly can lead to depression.  This can lead to angst. 

Mike:    Why can’t I get that thing?

Jim:    Absolutely.  While people are searching for the meaning of life, Mike, are they participating in it?

Mike:    No.  They’re searching for the answer instead of participating in the right now.  Wow.  I’m starting to sound like you a lot.

Jim:    Absolutely.  So, what we’re talking about is when we’re searching we’re not participating in our life.  We’re bypassing everything that’s going on.  I’m searching for my keys, don’t bother me.  I’ll get to that in a little bit.  I don’t see that beautiful smile of that child.  I’m not participating.  The idea here is that in the Middle East there’s a character that there are stories that this person has participated in his life, and this person’s name was Mullah Nasruddin.  Often stories told that this person, Mullah, was searching for something.  And a person comes up and says, “What, are you lost?”  And, he says, “Oh, I lost this. I lost a personal possession.”  He said, “Where did you lose it?”  And, he says, “I lost it two streets over.”  And, then the person says, “Well, why are you searching here?”  And he said, “Because the light’s better here.  I can see better.”  Sometimes that’s the way we go through life, Mike.  We don’t go into those darker places and create our own light.  We take the easier, softer way and go where there’s light, where there’s really and truly nothing to be found.  When we’re not participating – where the thing that perhaps we are looking for, our eyes can’t see because it’s dark.  And, we look for the light and illumination that other sights, sounds, images shine.  

Mike:    We follow – maybe one way I’m translating this in my head, that’s what that far away look was of me kind of applying this in my head to situations – I see a little bit of when I’m looking for that thing I’m chasing the person that’s done the similar thing, right?

Jim:    Absolutely.

Mike:    So, now I’m following that path, or trying to learn from that path and not looking at my own opportunities in front of me that could lead me to somewhere – or even better things.

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Jim:    Absolutely.  And, what we’re talking about is sometimes when we’re doing this searching, that means that we’re not satisfied with what we have.  We’re not grateful for what’s right in front of us.  We don’t practice gratitude.  Quite often, when we’re not practicing gratitude for what’s around us, we’re often living in a life of jealousy and envy.  And, we’re allowing others to influence us.  If only I drank this certain beverage.  If only I used this anti-perspirant.  If only I was able to drive this particular type of car, then my life would have meaning.  How often, Mike, do we attach meaning to our life by materialism?

Mike:    All the time.  For me, “Geesh, if I just get that new computer, I’ll be able to get all the work.”  And, then you get the computer, and it didn’t get you where you needed to be.

Jim:    So, we talked about impulses.  And, again, that is doing our searching where the light is.  

Mike:    Right.

Jim:    When our life is somewhere else, our life is right in front of us and participating, but we choose not to see it as it takes a little work to participate in our life.  And, we’re a little lazy, people, are we not?

Mike:    I just went through a drive-thru for a convenience store today.  And, I felt like the most laziest person ever after she had to walk the entire way across the store to get a drink for me – that I ordered through the drive-thru.  It felt like, “What am I doing?”

Jim:    Our idea here is when we go through our lives, do you ever think about a gratitude ratio?  

Mike:    No?

Jim:    Do you ever think of your life as having a scale and weighing your negative thoughts, and those type of envious thoughts, or jealous thoughts, or ego-driven thoughts, rather than the positive aspects of your life – the things that you’re grateful for.

Mike:    I more think of a karma scale, but now I’m going to think of it that way.  Thanks for putting that in my head, Jim.

Jim:    What we’re talking about is a grateful ratio.  About what we’re grateful for.  When we put the negative and the positive aspects of our life on the scale, and sometimes – again, we talk about karma happens, life happens.  However, when we’re thinking about that, then we’re not participating in our life, are we?

Mike:    Right.  Because, we’re kind of – I don’t want to say making excuses?  It is making excuses, isn’t it?  We’re saying, “Well it happened because of this.”

Jim:    Absolutely.

Mike:    And, it was out of my hands.  And, it’s not happening because of something I participated in.  It’s always, “Oh, they won’t let me succeed.”

Jim:    It’s an excuse.

Mike:    It is.  

Jim:    So, how often do we make excuses in our life?  What can gratitude do?  We’re just going to start a beginning series, and we kind of flip-flop around here.  But, tonight we’re going to talk a little about gratitude as I’ve had a personal life experience again yesterday that showed me a little bit about what true gratitude is and what being in a moment is.  So, what are some of the benefits of gratitude – is increased energy levels.  When you’re searching, or when you’re envious or you’re sad or depressed, how is your energy level, Mike?

Mike:    Low.  I’m trying to get that energy.  I’m trying to fight.  I’m taking that extra cup of coffee to try to get to the work I need to do, or the life things I need to do.

Jim:    Sure.  When you’re on the internet and you see all these doodads and these fancy things, or let’s say you walk down the street and you’re looking in the windows and you’re seeing all the merchandise that is for sale.  You’re looking at the people in the cars.  You’re looking at all these sights, sounds, and images that keep flowing past us.  

Mike:    This is kind of a way of our life these days.  It’s our TV trying to sell us things, and it really kind of feeds on that.  

Jim:    Absolutely.  Yesterday I was out with my family.  And, I happen to have a little granddaughter.  So, there I was.  And, I was walking around.  It was hot, and I was starting to think to myself, “Oh my gosh it’s hot.”  And this little girl came up to me and is walking beside me.  And, she’s going to be 2 years old soon.  And, Mike, she reached up and she took my hand so I could walk with her.  And, I looked down at her, and I thought.  And, then I was in that moment, Mike.  That little girl looked up at me and took my hand and wanted to walk with me.  That is gratitude beyond imagination.  That’s joy that transcends to another level.  Is there an automobile that could have given me that joy?

Mike:    No.

Jim:    Is there a diamond ring that could have given me that joy?

Mike:    Nor a Batman ring.

Jim:    Nor a Batman ring.  Nor a Superman ring.  Nor a Green Lantern ring.  There’s nothing in life.  And this is when we’re not participating in life, when we’re searching.  If I was searching for something – if I was looking at windows.  If I was thinking about why I don’t have something I would have never even saw her reaching up her hand to hold mine.  Those are the type of moments.  That’s what I’m talking about – true gratitude.  And, gratitude, Mike, is something that we go forward.  If you were grateful for something and that gratitude in your life didn’t go forward to other people, places, things, circumstances, and events – what type of a person would you be?

Mike:    Very introverted, I guess.

Jim:    Very selfish and self-centered.  So, let’s say that in your village there was a plague.  And, you came down with it.  And, I happened to be passing through.  You came up to me, “Sir, can you help me?  I’m very ill.”  I looked at you, and I said, “Well, yes.  I can help you.”  And, I gave you the ingredients for the cure for this plague.  Would you be grateful to me?

Mike:    Yes.

Jim:    Absolutely.  So, the idea is, if you kept that to yourself – if you kept that gratitude to yourself – certainly you’d be grateful to me.  And, you kept that to yourself and didn’t share it with others.  If you didn’t play that gratitude forward, what type of a person would you be?

Mike:    Selfish.

Jim:    Selfish and self-centered and greedy.  One of my favorite philosophers, the Trappist monk by the name of Thomas Merton who combined his Christianity with Zen and Buddhism often said that there were three ills that could be – all the ills in the world could be traced to three things.  And, that’s greed, lust, and self-love.  And, if you stand back and take another perspective, that truly is.  So, when we have greed, when we have lust – and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a sexual thing – and self-love, then does that mean that we’re grateful for what we have?

Mike:    No.  Because, you’re always looking for that next thing you’ve got to get.

Jim:    So, what’s that key word?  Searching.  Rather than participating.  And, Mike, when we participate in our life, aren’t we on our journey?  And, when we’re on a journey, aren’t we constantly experiencing new things?  And, in our own way are we not searching?  So, my idea about this particular podcast was more of a free association type of thing because of what I experienced with that little girl – having the gratitude about holding that hand.  So, my challenge to you, and everyone out there, is to develop your own gratitude ratio.  How is it during the day?  Where’s your ratio at?  Where are the scales?  And, remember, Mike, you make those scales yourself.  It’s your choice about those scales.  So, my challenge out there to everyone is to begin to develop – as they say in the 12-step world – perhaps an attitude of gratitude.  And, that involves participating in your life.  That involves participation, which is what Fishing Without Bait is all about – about living life without definitive expectations, experiencing every particular moment in your life.  And, we’re going to be exploring this subject of gratitude in our next few podcasts.  So, Mike, I’d like to wish you a happy 13th podcast.  And, until then, I’ll see you on the flip-flop.  

Please check out our website at FishingWithoutBait.com where you can listen to the show, comment on our discussions and find out where you can subscribe to our podcast.  Fishing Without Bait is a production of Namaste Holistic Counseling, P.C.