Saturday, December 27, 2008

Attitude of Gratitude

Driving to visit relatives yesterday, I flipped through the radio stations to hear some Christmas carols. To my disappointment, I found the same theme present as when I was looking for some holiday cheer on television: ingratitude. Now we live in a rural area, and we don't watch TV at home, and rarely listen to the radio, so I'm not up on all the current trends. But it seems to me that complaining about someone's thinking enough about you to give you a token of their affection at this time of year is a sad and sorry thing. And to bombard ourselves with the reinforcement of this type of thinking is not healthy for our own spiritual growth. I know it takes me alot of practice to have an attitude of gratitude. I need to guard my eyes with what I allow them to read and view, and my ears with what I allow them to listen to. It is easy to follow the ways of the world and just let the media dictate how I act and feel. I have fought too hard to pry myself away from that. At times like this I am grateful and reenergized by my choice to limit the media's access to me. Sometimes it is harder to pick up a book, or play a board game or imagination game with my family than it is to turn on the TV. But it can and has become a habit with us. I also am grateful for this choice when I watch my 5 year old son interact with his friends and cousins. Instead of reenacting media promoted attitudes, I see him holding his own practicing the disciplines and attitudes we have been working hard to teach him. I hope and pray this will continue as he grows and faces the challenges of protecting his own purity, guarding his eyes and his ears from what may lead him astray.

It is not easy to stand constant guard over my senses, to keep them from dragging me into ingratitude and depression and restlessness. It is much easier, while visiting, to sit and watch objectionable shows with the rest of the crew, or join in with the gossip, than it is to get up and leave the room to go read my book elsewhere. And it's alot harder to stand up for my son's innocence and purity in front of others who mock my "prudishness". But with practice it gets easier. And when I see the positive results in my son, my resolve strengthens. The strange thing about it, is that sometimes they seem to even respect me for it. Even if they don't, this is what I believe is right. I've been down the road of temptation and spiritual laziness, and I know how cunning, baffling and powerful those forces are, always lying in wait for me. To quote Buddha, "We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves." Others have said much the same thing: You are what you think about all the time. Garbage in, garbage out. There's alot of good, positive, uplifting stuff out there to choose from. We just have to seek it out. Fill our minds with the good stuff, walk away from the negative. Change the channel. Or turn it off.

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