By Keith Copeland
Do you ever feel overwhelmed? Stressed out? Uneasy with what you have or who you are?
There is a remedy for all these situations. It's simple. In fact, it's so simple, most people overlook this powerful principle.
But it's not easy. You actually have to think about it, and you also have to commit to following through.
So it's simple . . . it's just not easy.
The First Secret: Gratefulness for What You Have
Do you have all you want?
Do you want all you have?
My guess is, if you're like most people I know, then you have lots of cool things. You may have a garage full of those things. You may have an attic full of those those things. Your rooms may be full of those things.
Someone once asked me: Look around your house -- how many things have not been used in the past 12 months? In reality, 95 percent of the things have not been used in the last 12 months. And probably will not be used in the next 12 months, or two years, or five years.
Now it doesn't include your emergency generator that you may use when the power goes out. You need to keep your refrigerator going. But how many things do you have that you will really never use?
Make a list of 10 things that you want right now but don't yet have. Do you really need those things? Will those things add value to your life?
I'm not saying don't get new things, or clear out many things you already have. But I am saying that most of us have an unsettled spirit because we want more. The first secret is being grateful for what we have.
The Second Secret: Gratefulness for Those in Your Life
My wife and I were fortunate enough to have opened Quest Martial Arts 16 years ago. We started it with the intention of creating a fantastic community of people coming together to support each other and what they're trying to accomplish.
It wasn't just punching and kicking, self-defense, or learning the most effective martial art in the world. Some people came for confidence. Some people came for a greater ability to express who they are. Some people came to be a part of the community, something bigger than themselves. Some people heard about the personal development aspect that is unique to our school and developed invaluable leadership skills.
We grew to love and cherish all members of our Quest community. Our students, their parents, our amazing instructors and management staff.
However, in the past three years, we have cultivated a much deeper gratefulness and love for our Quest community.
That community continues to grow and flourish, and at the same time has allowed us to live in Tennessee taking care of my aging parents. This allowed my wife and I to truly get to know, support, and become deep friends with both of my parents during the last 12 months, before they passed away.
I'm so grateful for all the people in my life who allowed me to have this experience with three people who I am so grateful for, my parents and my loving wife.
So gratefulness for those who are in your life can give you great peace of spirit.
The Third Secret: Gratefulness for Your Home
Think about the total population of the world and the billions who don't have a home. Then look around at people in your community that are in that same position. Now look at yourself in the home you have. It is a true gift to your spirit to spend a few moments being grateful for your home. The place that keeps you warm, dry, and safe.
I traveled around the world and I've seen palaces and I've seen corrugated tin shacks no larger than the closet. In many instances, the people of those little shacks smile more and have a radiance of peace.
Now this is not always the case. Of course, extreme poverty is hard and difficult and dangerous. But when the basic needs are met of housing and food and water there is a great peace, and many of those faces I've seen know that they have "a place of their own" and are grateful for it.
Most of us want newer, bigger and nicer. And that's fine and good. But one secret to a peaceful spirit is a truly appreciate the home that you have.
The Fourth Secret: Gratefulness to Be Alive
Are you alive?
Are you sure?
How do you know?
One thing I often ask my classes is, "Have you breathed today?"
Then I'll ask them, "Are you sure?"
Chuckles come from a few people and then the comments always come. "Of course I breathed. I'm here aren't I?"
Then I ask, "Okay then prove it. How many breaths did you take today?"
Nobody ever knows.
"Of course I don't know," they say. "You don't sit around counting your breaths all day."
The point is that we live unconsciously each day. It's wonderful that we have breathing automatic, and we don't have to consciously breathe.
But we should be conscious that we do breathe. Periodically through the day we should notice everything.
And we should be grateful that we have air to breathe and a body that will automatically give us this precious element.
Being grateful for the air we breathe is a humbling experience and that helps us realize just how abundantly we live.
The Fifth Secret: Gratefulness for Your Awareness
It is my belief that the vast majority population walks around asleep and unaware that they are truly alive. Yes, they are aware of the things going on around them. They are also aware that they are doing tasks and interacting with people and things.
But they are really unaware of what's going on inside of them. Their numb to the fact that they've lost their individuality. The essential quality that makes them truly unique valuable and precious.
I remember driving to an important meeting in a different town. Winding road and rolling hills.
Over the hills I saw dark clouds rising. As I continued on the road the clouds rolled in faster and the winds picked up and grew stronger.
Instantly, it didn't just start to drizzle, it started to downpour. Intense lightning ran from the sky and connected to the ground and with massive thunderous booms. Suddenly I was acutely alive, aware, and in touch with myself, the car, and nature in all its intense activity.
The weather caused me to slow down, take notice, and be acutely aware of everything. Not just the intense winds and rain and lightning, but my breathing. Every part of my body and all my thoughts became extremely focused in a moment.
We don't need nature in all of its majesty to pull us back to an awareness of our selves in our lives. We can consciously make a commitment to understand that we are alive every moment and be open and alert to our experiences.
It's so simple . . . it's just not easy
A peaceful spirit really hinges on gratitude. Our spirit becomes peaceful when we understand that we always have all that we need and are grateful for all we have.
What makes it difficult is that we don't always have what we want.
I once saw a bumper sticker that said, "The gap between more than enough never closes."
Being grateful for what you have in your life and your awareness that you are indeed alive is truly all you need. Yes, of course we need food, shelter, water and air. But when we find a peaceful heart and peaceful spirit through true gratitude the universe conspires with us to create abundance.
Universe, God, The Great spirit, Allah, or whatever you choose to call that power beyond yourself that connects us and is trying to guide us, and wants us to have abundance.
It's very simple. The Universe wants us to be happy and have more.
The hard part is, The Universe conspires with us to give us what we focus on. This practice of these five secrets of gratefulness for a peaceful spirit is a massively powerful tool for working with The Universe to create the things we truly want and need in our lives.
But that's a topic for another article.
So there you have it. Your five secrets to a peaceful spirit. It's simple, it's just not easy.
Keith Copeland is the owner of Quest Martial Arts, which is located at 2111 Packard Street, Ann Arbor 48104. He also runs an organization development and personal development practice in which he guides individuals and businesses to find their greatest efficiency and effectiveness thereby creating value through their right livelihood. To learn more, call (734) 332-1800, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.quest-martialarts.com.