“Many of us have made our world so familiar that we do not see it anymore.”
- John O’ Donahue
“I understand something I didn’t see before: every blessing ignored becomes a curse.”
- from The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
It was only until about a year ago, when I read Anam Cara by the late Irish poet and philosopher John O’Donahue, that I finally understood the importance of recognizing the blessings in my life.
I learned from John O’ Donahue that the indigenous people of Ireland, the Celtics, held the notion of blessings very highly. In Gaelic, the ancient language of the Celtics, every greeting and parting was infused with a blessing. I found this cultural practice wonderful and very moving.
So, inspired by John O’ Donahue and his book Anam Cara, not too long ago, I spent a week living in blessing.
After I spent a week in blessings, my life was completely transformed. It was truly amazing—it was nothing like anything I had ever experienced before.
That week of living in blessings made me realize that we focus far too much on how we are “cursed” in life and we spend far too little time recognizing the wonderful gifts we have been given.
I also realized that there is great truth in what Paulo Coelho says in his moving book, The Alchemist: that every blessing unrecognized becomes a curse.
Gratitude Vs. Blessing
I’ve come to the conclusion that a gratitude practice is not as powerful as a blessings practice.
Gratitude is recognizing and understanding that you are gifted by life.
Blessing, however, is KNOWING deeply, and feeling it to your core, that you are gifted by life. Blessing is also LIVING the fact that you are gifted by life.
There is a huge difference between gratitude and blessing, but they are deeply interconnected.
In a way, you can see blessing as the deepest experience of gratitude, and gratitude as only the beginning of living your life in blessing.
How To Recognize The Blessings In Your Life
Showing gratitude is easily practiced. You can make a list of things you are grateful every day. Even though showing gratitude is a great practice, an essential practice, a helpful practice, it is not the deepest and most effective of practices.
Recognizing your blessings, on the other hand, is a far deeper and far more effective practice than just showing gratitude.
I know. This sounds like heresy. But it isn’t.
Please know that I’m not saying that blessing is “better” than gratitude. I’m just saying blessing is a deeper and more effective practice than gratitude. I’m also not saying that you should give up the practice of showing gratitude. I’m just saying you should pick up recognizing your blessings as an addition to your gratitude practice.
Now, blessing, unlike gratitude, requires more effort on your part. So, here’s how to truly recognize that something is a blessing in your life:
Step 1: Take Up Something You Are Grateful For
Let us take the sun as an example.
You might list the sun as something you are grateful for. But to recognize that the sun is a true blessing in your life, you must go further than just jotting down the sun on a list of things you are grateful for.
Which leads us to:
Step 2: Imagine What It Would Be Like To Live Without The Thing You Are Grateful For
Seriously ask yourself:
“What if there was no sun? What would I be without the sun?”
As you ponder these questions, create the alternate universe in which no sun exists.
Close your eyes, and live there in your mind for a brief moment. While there, in this alternate universe, truly experience what it would be like if there was no sun:
You are freezing. You are starving. There is no life force all around you. All is pitch black. You cannot see a centimeter in front of you. You feel nothing but ice and smoke and wind slap you across the face.
Now, open your eyes. Come back to reality.
Look around you:
You are warm. There is life all around you. Even if you are in the shade, or in your home, bars of sunlight have made their way through to touch you. The sun greets you. All is well-lit when the sun is around. You can see all round you. You feel nothing but warmth, breeze, and mist that caresses your face.
Ahhh, now you KNOW what a blessing the sun is in your life, eh?
Step 3: Recognize That The Thing You Are Grateful For Is Really A Blessing
After you engage in the above exercise you will not just feel grateful for the sun, you will feel blessed by the sun.
In fact, you won’t just feel informed that the sun is a blessing, or just understand that the sun is a blessing, you will know that the sun is a blessing, and live like it is so. (Read The Shortcut To Mastering ANY Lesson You’re Struggling With to familiarize yourself with the four steps of the learning process that I’m referring to in this paragraph.)
Every day the sun rises from now on, you will feel the blessing of the sun in your life.
From now on, you will recognize that you cannot call what you feel about the sun “gratitude.” Gratitude isn’t a good enough word to describe it. Blessing is the only thing that can come even close to describing what you feel about the sun.
The sun is a blessing, and you can only be blessed.
C2C’s First Ever “Blessings Week Reader Challenge”
I loved my blessing week so much that I knew that I wanted to give my readers the gift of a week of blessings.
So, here’s the deal:
- Every day of this week I want you to live in blessings. Practice the blessings exercise that I’ve just given you, and apply it to more than just the sun.
- Try taking something you deem as a curse in your life and use the blessings exercise on it. You may find that what you thought was a curse has a blessing hidden inside.
- Try taking something that you are COMPLETELY indifferent to, like a piece of tape that got stuck to your shoe, and see if you can’t find a blessing in it, too.
- Remember to wait until you feel you truly KNOW that something is a blessing before you move on to the next blessing. This “knowing” I speak of is hard to explain. I can only say that when you know something is a blessing, you will know it. (I know, that’s not very helpful, but that is the best that I can do to describe the sensation.)
- During “Blessings Week,” I will be posting daily mantras on Facebook and Twitter. These mantras will help you make your blessings week more focused. Feel free to check in with these mantras daily to see how you can live each day in blessing.
- You are welcome to post your blessings on C2C’s Facebook Page, or on Twitter if you wish. (If you decide to tweet about blessings week, make sure to use the #blessingsweek hashtag and my Twitter handle @OllinMorales so I can see you. I’d love to know what you’re discovering as a blessing in your life.)
- Finally, if you’re planning to participate, please copy the pledge below, plug-in your name, and re-post the pledge in the comments.
On Wednesday I will provide more exercises to help you live this week in blessings.
Finally, this Friday, I will open “the floor” up to all of you and allow you to share what the experience was like for you.
I have no doubt that you will be fundamentally transformed after this week. That’s how confident I am in Blessings Week.
Good luck and I look forward to seeing how Blessings Week affects the way you see your writing and your life!
Instructions: Copy the following pledge, plug-in your name, and re-post it in the comments below.