The Transformative Power of Practicing Gratitude

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Unless you are a new listener to the show, then you very well may be fatigued by my show opening mantra.  If so, you’re out of luck, because I’m going to repeat it here anyway:

Each week I bring you the best most forward thinking, paradigm busting minds in health, fitness, athleticism, creativity, diet, nutrition, art, entrepreneurship, personal growth & spirituality….

The goal is simple: to empower YOU with the tools, the knowledge, the inspiration and motivation to take your life to the next level. To help you discover, unlock and unleash your BEST most AUTHENTIC self.

I repeat it here because it’s particularly relevant to today’s guest and topic.  

I repeat it here because I need to remind myself that in order to make that leap to so unlock and unleash, I must say yes to experiences outside my comfort zone.  I must be and remain open to new ideas that are unfamiliar. I must continue to be willing to risk.  And I must be willing to experience things that still scare me.

There is a truism I find myself repeating under my breath: you cannot transmit something you haven’t got.  

In other words, if I hope to so transmit, by way of this podcast, the inspiration and tools I profess to offer, then I must walk that talk. Otherwise I strike a false chord – my words become inauthentic. And this house I bled to build becomes a mere house of cards, soon to fall in upon itself.

After a rewarding 7 days in Ontario with Julie, I’m now traveling alone — in the midst of this extraordinary speaking tour across the Middle East — Beirut, Lebanon and three cities across Saudi Arabia: Riyadh, Jeddah and Al Khobar.

Traveling to this part of the world intimidates me. Is it safe? Can I go outside and run without negative repercussion? And how will I and my message be received by cultures so different from my own?

I love traveling. I can think of few things that excite me more than getting on a plane for a very long flight to some exotic place I have never before seen.  And yet, I am definitely well outside my comfort zone. These are not places that I would ordinarily choose to visit. But that’s what makes it so enthralling. I am wide open to the multitude of opportunities they potentially offer.

It’s about practicing “yes” to the new experiences that present themselves, irrespective of whatever feelings of fear, insecurity, doubt and anxiety that creep up and strive to keep my life small for the sake of comfort and security — emotions I know are underpinned by illusion – what the Hindus call Maya.

For me, the practice of saying yes in the face of such fear and doubt has been paying dividends of late.

I can’t tell you what an incredible experience Beirut has been the last few days. A place in so many ways vastly different from what I expected. Imagine a mashup of old and new. Cote D’Azur meets Arabia. Parts almost indistinguishable from Milan or Paris or Tuscany – très chic European, sophisticated and urban teeming with beautiful, intelligent, curious people I had the privilege of spending time with. There’s a reason it’s called The Paris of the Middle East.

But turn your head to peer behind my lovely hotel on the waterfront and you will see the unmistakable scars of war. The scaffold of the towering old Holiday Inn hotel – once the pride and pearl of the city — looms high yet decimated and rife with bullet indentations and gaping holes from shell fire artillery blasts. Demolished just after construction was completed when the civil war broke out on 1975, the scaffold still stands in a state of utter disreapir as a constant reminder of a different time, and the ever-present instability that underpins the city’s elegant, cosmopolitan veneer.

As I sit here tonight finishing up this post, I am now writing from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. More on this city in a later post, but for now I will just say that I spent an evening in a beautiful private home delivering my message to a small group of 15 Saudi businessmen dressed in traditional thobe attire, some accompanied by their wives. The cultural divide at first struck me as almost impenetrable. I am not well versed in the cultural etiquette. I don’t know the rules here! Can I address the women or must I not make eye contact? Will I offend them with my message? There is no way these people are going to be even the slightest bit interested in what I have to offer.  

For a moment I was terrified. I have never before felt further from home — and I’ve been to Pakistan! Then I closed my eyes. Took a breath. Consciously surrendered to the moment. Asked to be simply a channel for service.  Nothing more, nothing less. And then let it all go.

Relief.

Now in the moment, the cultural divide vanished. And by the end of the evening, I felt completely at home — because I was.

It was an incredible experience.  And one I will not soon forget.

As I sit here tonight, I am in touch with the miraculous and impossibly beautiful turns my life has taken.

How did this happen? By learning how to say yes — not just to opportunities that once would have scared me, but to myself — my higher self. To the inner, instinctual voice I have — through years of inside work — come to trust as my ultimate life navigator.  Because the voice does not divine from what I think of as me, but from something higher.  What Julie would call Divine Consciousness.

How did this happen? By choosing above all — to echo a mantra evoked by filmmaker Casey Neistat in a previous episode to invest in experience.

Reflecting on all of this, I am enriched — for these experiences have made me better, broader, more expanded and compassionate.

But most of all, I am grateful.

Gratitude. 

It’s been a while, but Julie is now back in the copilot seat for today’s show, and gratitude is the subject of the hour.  

This is a good one people. Be open. Choose to invest in this experience. And say yes to receiving information that might be new to you.

And stick around through the end — you won’t want to miss Julie’s beautiful rendition of her song Cry.

I hope you enjoy the offering. 

SHOW NOTES

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