I did find a few free moments Monday night, however. And I used them to attend my very first meditation class.
It was quite fascinating, listening to the teacher's lecture on shedding self consciousness; attempting to stay serene for 30 whole minutes when the most I've really ever tried to meditate is about 120 seconds; hearing questions people had regarding their personal meditation practices.
But the highlight of the night for me was a quote the teacher recited.
Acceptance culminates in gratitude.
Perhaps this is a core Buddhist principle and I'm just too far removed from that philosophy to know it. But oh the power of that statement. Imagine if by accepting different things in our lives, we could actually become grateful for them.
The idea of this appeals to me greatly, and also seems like the biggest struggle in the world. I am very good at accepting certain things—waiting in traffic for example. Often, it allows me to listen to great music or just have quiet down time. So even though it can be frustrating, there are may instances in which I end up being thankful for it.
Other things—people, rules, ways of thinking—are nearly impossible for me to accept, let alone be thankful for.
As I pondered the quote after class, I realized that just like meditation, gratitude must be practiced to be perfected. You almost have to force yourself to feel grateful for it to start coming naturally. Force yourself to look at the positives; to find reasons to say thanks. "Force" is probably a terrible word to be using here, considering we're talking about acceptance... But I think in some situations, a gratitude journal or ongoing list of upsides is the only way one can reach a point where they really accept something and see it for its goodness.
It's even harder for me than usual to adopt this way of thinking right now. I am swamped at work, carrying the Giant Wedding To Do list with every muscle in my mind, trying not to count the days that Mr. W has been gone, looking for breathers in my over-booked social calendar. Frustration feels a lot more comfortable right now than gratitude does. But I guess that just means it's that much more important for me to try to cultivate gratitude every day...