The ATTITUDE of GRATITUDE
Cultivating the ATTITUDE of GRATITUDE leads to a BEAUTIFUL STATE. Research shows those who practice gratitude are much happier.
In this episode of The BE ULTIMATE Podcast, Travis shares stories, inspiration and wisdom on the theme of GRATITUDE.
He also shares 3 ways to practice gratitude to immediately bring more joy, emotional richness and meaning to your life!
Hope you enjoy this episode!
The best way you can show your GRATITUDE is to share The BE ULTIMATE Podcast with your community – and please RATE and REVIEW the podcast.
Thank you for helping us spread inspiration and wisdom across the globe!
-Overview of The ATTITUDE of GRATITUDE
-Taking things for granted
-Having lunch in prison
-The reality of global poverty
-The samurai and the monk
-Staying grateful through challenge
-Gratitude equals a BEAUTIFUL STATE
-Simple moments in life
-3 ways to practice gratitude
-Inspiration from Zig Ziglar, Alice Walker, Brother David Steindl-Rast, Robert Emmons, Jack Kornfield, Meister Eckhart
-The Ultimate Prayer
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[The following is the full transcript of this episode of “The Be Ultimate Podcast.” Please note that this is direct from Travis speaking unscripted and unedited.]
Welcome to the Be Ultimate Podcast.
This is Travis Eliot, your host. And I want to thank you guys for tuning in each week for wisdom and inspiration.
The podcast is now in over 65 countries: North America, Central, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Middle East, Australia. Just proves wisdom and inspiration is spreading across the world.
So thank you for joining me for another exciting episode. This week, we’re going to be talking about something I became a little bit of an expert in, not because it came easy but actually because it’s been a little bit of a struggle and something that I still have to really practice and work on.
This topic is the “Attitude of Gratitude.”
“Of all the attitudes we can acquire, surely, the attitude of gratitude is the most important and by far the most life changing.”
I think about a time when I was flying to Maine to go teach a yoga workshop. I’d flown from Los Angeles to Boston. And in Boston, you get on this tiny little airplane with propellers, 10 seats, and honestly, a little bit sketchy. Noisy, loud, airplane shaking, and you’re not sure if you’re going to make it to your destination.
So you’re flying right above the earth — a lot lower altitude than a normal jet plane. And you can see everything. This time of year it happened to be fall and it was stunning. Because everywhere you looked, for miles and miles just a rainbow of orange and amber and yellow and red. And it made me reflect upon my childhood.
I was blessed to grow up in a home in North Carolina surrounded by 10 acres of forest with hundreds of thousands of trees. But when I moved to Los Angeles, Southern California which is a desert, it did not look like North Carolina. It was beautiful in a different way. You had the beaches and the mountains and the ocean, but as far as green trees everywhere, we didn’t have that in Los Angeles. And it made me really reflect upon how I’d taken all that for granted and I really missed it.
“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and you don’t notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.”
Are you aware of all the beauty that surrounds you?
Because it’s easy to get trapped in this noise inside of our head. It’s easy to focus on what’s missing, what’s lacking, and to feel empty.
Now back to the Maine trip. After we had taught this yoga workshop, my wife Lauren and I were invited to teach in the Maine State Prison, a maximum security prison. Our first trip there was a completely new experience, complete uncharted territory. And I would like to talk about that just on its own in a future podcast because it was one of the greatest, most rewarding, powerful experiences of my life.
In regards to the gratitude theme, on the first day we were there, we taught for eight hours. And in the middle of the day, we had a lunch break and we broke bread with the men.
Now on this day, the warden and our host at the Liberation Institute had arranged to cater special food for the men. And this was a big deal. This food was unlike the food that these men are typically used to consuming. And I remember sitting at this big table surrounded by the men, and the warden, some of the staff, my wife Lauren.
One guy picks up a grape and he says, “I haven’t had a grape in over five years.” And he’s looking at it. You can really see he’s soaking it up. There’s so much awareness with it. And with so much mindfulness, he puts it into his mouth and he enjoys and savors every little bit of that grape. And then another man picks up a blueberry and he says, “I haven’t had a blueberry in over seven years.” And he did the same thing. And as he ate that blueberry, you could just feel the gratitude oozing off of him. And then a third man, an older Indian gentleman, he picks up a piece of mango and he says, “I haven’t had mango in over 20 years.” His eyes teared up. He ate the mango. And he ate it with so much reverence and so much joy.
This experience really really blew me away. And it also confronted me with all the things I take for granted. If I want blueberry or mango, I have to walk a few blocks, go to Whole Foods and I have access to all the food that I want. But yet, I take all this stuff for granted.
So my question to you is what are all the things that you take for granted?
Because chances are there are hundreds and thousands of things within your life that maybe you don’t acknowledge. And maybe your mind does focus on what’s missing instead of the miracles and the blessings of what exist in your life right now.
Did you know half of the world’s population lives on less than $2.50 a day?!
Chances are if you’re listening to this podcast and even if you’re not that financially prosperous you have way, way, way more abundance than over three-and-a-half billion people on this planet.
I think about it going to some of these third world countries that I’ve visited, places like India, and you go to a city like Mumbai. You come out of the airport and it’s this wild juxtaposition between wealth and also the most extreme poverty that you can imagine. Just slums that go for miles and miles, and miles. But what really blew me away that even in the midst of so much poverty is that on the faces of these really poor people with so little physically and materialistically, they still had a smile on their face. They still had a gleam radiating out of their eyes. And they may not have had much externally and physically but they had a richness in abundance internally.
And then I would come back to the United States and it was like the other way around. People have so much wealth physically and their faces look like they’re suffering. They’re depressed. Their eyes look like they’re dead, they’re dying.
When we cultivate gratitude, it gives us a wealth and a well-being that doesn’t come from external sources. It really comes from within.
“Two men looked out from prison bars. One saw the mud, the other saw the stars.”
What kind of person are you? Are you the type of person that’s always dwelling in the mud, getting stuck in the dirt of negativity or are you the kind of person that lives in the vastness and the beauty and the magnificence of the stars? Because whichever person you are, the mud or the stars, you are creating your own heaven or your own hell.
There was a samurai that climbed to the peak of a really, really tall mountain. When the samurai finally reached the summit, he found the temple at the top of the mountain. He went inside the temple and in the corner of the temple was a monk meditating. And this big, strong ferocious samurai stampeded across the temple floor until he got in front of the monk and he shouted, “Monk, teach me about heaven and hell!” And the monk slowly opened up his eyes and then he looked at the samurai and he said, “You are a disgrace to the samurai class. Who do you think you are to awaken me out of my meditation?”
The samurai flipped into a state of rage. He grabbed his sword, he unsheathed it, and he was about to behead the monk. And the monk quietly said, “This is hell.” And then the samurai realized that this monk had just put his life on the line to teach him about being in a state of hell, of reactivity and anger. So he put the sword back into a sheath, he dropped his knee to the ground, he bowed down his head and gave gratitude to the monk for the teaching. And then the monk quietly said, “Now, this is heaven.”
So heaven and hell isn’t necessarily a place that we go to. It’s actually a place that exists between our two ears. It exists inside of our mind. And are you living in heaven or are you living in hell?
By living in the attitude of gratitude, you create heaven inside of your mind.
Now, it’s easy to be grateful or ‘easier,’ I should say, to be grateful when things are going well. Your relationships are feeling good. Your career’s rocking. You’re healthy. You’re strong. And we naturally feel grateful. Our expectations are being met. But wisdom teaches us that even when things are not going well, in moments of struggle and adversity and challenge, we still have the capacity even in that to be grateful.
I know for myself, looking back on my life and the greatest challenges that I moved through. Things that maybe were just so intense in the moment and so, so difficult to move through and you doubt whether you’re going to make it through to the other side. Now with the perspective of looking back on that, I can see how everything really did happen for a good reason. Everything helped me become the person that I become today.
“Times that challenge us physically, emotionally, and spiritually may make it almost impossible for us to feel grateful, yet we can decide to live gratefully, courageously, open to life in all its fullness.”
–Brother David Steindl-Rast
Because part of the human experience is there is loss and gain, disease and health, death and birth. And we can maintain this attitude of gratitude whichever way the pendulum is swinging.
In Tibet, they actually have a prayer that is dedicated to challenges. Not only are they okay with challenges but they actually pray, “Universe, bring me the challenges.” Because they know that challenges are going to help them unlock their fullest, deepest potential.
Gratitude puts you into a Beautiful State.
“If the only prayer you ever say your entire life is thank you, that will be enough.”
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Researcher Robert Emmons found that participants who kept a gratitude journal were 25% happier than those that did not.
Now, we live in a world where there is a lot of depression and there is a lot of anti-depressants being prescribed. So this idea of real happiness and real joy is a big, big deal.
So how can we practice gratitude?
Let’s talk about three ways that you can start practicing gratitude and really put this into action.
Number one, keep a gratitude journal. And for me, I like to practice gratitude in the morning and at night before going to bed. So you create these kind of bookends to the beginning and the end of your days. Start with gratitude and you finish with gratitude. And what you can do is in your gratitude journal, you can write down three things that you’re grateful for. And this could be anything. I’m grateful for this body. I’m grateful for this breath. I’m grateful for the roof over my head. I’m grateful for the food in my refrigerator. I’m grateful for the clothes in my closet. I’m grateful for my toothbrush. I’m grateful for my shower. I’m grateful for the people that exist in my life that embody love. And also, I’m grateful for the people that challenge me. They’re my teachers too. There’s so much to be grateful for.
And you reflect upon these things that you’re grateful for at the beginning of the day. And then at the end of the day, you can write down three things that happened during the day that you’re grateful for. I’m grateful that the meeting at work today went really, really well. I’m grateful for that hour that I got to get on my yoga mat and practice or exercise. I’m grateful for getting to spend time with my kids or my friend or my pets. What three things happened during that day that you’re grateful for? And then you bring that gratitude, that beautiful state into your sleep state.
Number two is a gratitude meditation. You can take 5, 10, 15, 20 minutes and meditate on all the things that you’re grateful for. And as you think about these things and you reflect upon these things, also feel the gratitude, feel that energy within your heart. The attitude of gratitude. And this gratitude is like a muscle. The more that you work it out, the stronger it becomes. The more that it just becomes ingrained into your physiology. And the more that it becomes really a part of who you are.
Lastly, number three is being grateful within the transitions in your life. You’re driving to work? Be grateful. Standing in line at the grocery store? Be grateful. You’re going from work back to your car? Be grateful. Notice the trees. Notice the nature. Feel the breeze. Look into a stranger’s eyes and send them good vibes. Just don’t do it for too long, they may think you’re a little bit crazy. But in these transitions, even if it’s just two, three seconds, these can quickly add up to something that really has a major impact on helping us to create that beautiful state.
The other day I was going to a hike with my son. And on the way, we were driving through this neighborhood and we pulled up to this stop sign, and on the corner of the curb was a mother with her young daughter who was about maybe four or five years old. And as my car stopped, they begin to walk in front of us across the street. And as soon as they were right in front of my vehicle, the little girl looked over through the windshield and made eye contact with me. And this little girl had the sweetest, most precious, most angelic face that you can imagine! It just melted my heart.
So there we are having this moment where we’re connecting to each other. And I could just feel the gratitude in that moment. And then the mom continued to drag her across the street. Eventually, they got to the other side and the little girl turned around again. She looked at me and she saw that I was still looking at her and she got so excited. And I could see her calling out to her mom. And I think it has a lot to do with just the connection from one human being to another.
It was a simple but beautiful moment!
If I would’ve been in a state of stress or been in a rush to get to the trail or thinking about all the things that I had to do, cross off the to-do list, I may have missed out on this moment that, yes, was simple, but it was also so rich with beauty and love and joy. I can still see that image seared into my mind of this little girl that was just the symbol of joy and love, and I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful that I had that experience and it may have been the best moment of my day or maybe even my week. It was simple but it was also incredibly profound. And then I gave gratitude to it. Thank you, universe, for that moment. And that helped me maintain being in this beautiful state.
Any time your mind begins to focus on lack or what’s missing and you start to feel empty, simply come back to the gratitude. And then the gratitude will create a fullness and a richness.
When GRATITUDE appears, NEGATIVITY disappears.
You can’t be in a negative state. You can’t be stressed out. You can’t be anxious. You can’t be worried. You can’t be angry. You can’t be irritable when you’re giving gratitude to something. That’s the power of this practice.
Now, I want to finish with a last passage from one of my great meditation teachers, Jack Kornfield. This passage is from his book, “No Time Like the Present.”
“Freedom and joy are not grim duties or withdraw from life. They are the innate wonder of spirit, the blessings of gratitude, the prayers of appreciation, the aliveness of being. They are the free heart rejoicing in the morning sunlight. The sturdy grasses and breath carried by the winds over the mountains. The world is a temple, a sanctuary bathed even at night by the miraculous light of the ocean of stars that never stops shining upon us. Every meeting of eyes, every leafing oak, every taste of raspberry and warm baked loaf is a blessing. These are the sacred notes in the symphony of life. The invitation to discover freedom. The joyful magnificence of a free and loving heart. They are yours and everyone’s to share.”
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you guys so much for tuning in each week. Thank you for supporting this podcast. I am incredibly grateful for you.
It takes two to tango. I wouldn’t be able to do this if it wasn’t without you.
Also, I want to thank my main man, Jason Reim. He’s the guy that helps me to pull off this podcast. He’s like the man behind the scenes. He’s the one that puts the blog together. He’s the one that pushes the buttons. He’s the one that designs those beautiful images on our blog with the quotes on them. And this podcast right now is just a two-man team. It’s just me and Jay. So thank you, Jay, for all of your amazing work and energy!
Let’s finish now with the Be Ultimate Prayer.
May we bring STRENGTH where there’s WEAKNESS.
May we bring COURAGE where there is FEAR.
May we bring COMPASSION where there is SUFFERING.
And may we bring LIGHT where there is DARKNESS.
May we be ULTIMATE!
Produced by Jason Reim
Opening Music by Howie Hersh
Closing Music by Ryan Richko