Another great essay by one of my teachers John Halcyon Stein. Check out more of his work at www.lifestudent.com
"Adjust the Baseline"
Occasionally it is important to recalibrate your baseline.
Actually, the more often you can do this, the better.
Abundance and poverty have nothing to do with the size of a bank account. If youfeel like you don't have enough, then you are poor. Getting out ofpoverty has everything to do with adjusting your baseline.
By baseline, I mean the conditions that you consider normal. Theconditions that you expect each day. Baseline for someone growing up inUganda is going to be much different than someone growing up in in LongIsland.
Baseline is significant because it is the vacillations around baseline that determine so much of our stress &emotions. If you are served breakfast in bed by a butler every day ofyour life, it could feel like a horrific tragedy if you woke one morningand discovered there was no fresh orange juice. Whereas someone inUganda might consider it a stellar morning if they had access to adrinkable glass of water.
This is not to say you should focus on others' suffering. It simply means you should practicelowering your baseline so that you take fewer and fewer things forgranted.
For most of human history, and around most of the planet, a shower would be a miracle. Not only does clean, drinkablewater flow out of our walls, but we can even adjust the temperature soas to make our DAILY bathing more pleasurable.
The majority of the world is struggling to find a glass of water to drinkand we urinate into bowls of drinkable water every day. Wow.
Again, this is not an exercise in feeling guilty. It is a practice of feeling blessed.
When you can remind yourself of your blessings, then gratitude just flowseffortlessly. And gratitude is the foundation for joy and abundance.
If your baseline is out of wack, then you take amazing things forgranted. You get angry about a flight delay and disregard the factthat you are traveling across country is less than a day. A fewgenerations ago, the same trip would take months. (check out Louis CK'samazing comedy routine "Everything's amazing, nobody's happy")
But this attitude of gratitude can extend far deeper than moderncomforts. What happens when you look at your existence in comparisonto other species on the planet? Or other chunks of matter?
From this perspective, the baseline shifts dramatically. Suddenlyconsciousness itself is a gift. Every physical sensation is atreasure. Every song, every smell, every taste, and every color that weperceive is a miracle.
We stop judging the quality of things and start being appreciative that they exist at all. Of all thematter in the Cosmos, being a collection of cells that has coalesced in away that allows for physical perception AND a consciousness mind thatis aware of the colorful world around us!?!? Well, that is something tocelebrate.
When baseline can be reset to this level of gratitude, then each moment of existence is cause for joy. Everything isamazing. And when everything is miraculous, it is much easier to avoidthe cultural trap of acquisition and wanting. The motivation to get andhoard dissolves when existence itself is a treasure. With this depthof gratitude, The measuring stick of wealth fades away and all you cansee is love.
I try to adjust my baseline at every meal. I know that I'll eat every day, so "grace" is a perfect opportunity fordaily recalibration. I learned this from my grandpa.
My grace is never exactly the same, but it always includes some version of the following:
"Dear Universe, help me to see the miracles in every moment, help me focus onall that is good in the world and to stay aware of the gifts thatsurround me. Help me be a vessel of Love in the world.
p.s. I am so grateful for the ability to communicate. For the tools toexpress. For the technology to share. Thank you for your presence andpatience in receiving these words. Thankyouthankyouthankyou.