Okay, maybe I don’t know all the answers to defeating ISIS. But I do think I know how we can start.
The answer is simple, but the solution is not so easy to put into place.
How do we defeat ISIS? The answer is gratitude.
Yes, gratitude. That’s it! Practice gratitude.
As I said, practicing gratitude it is not so simple. To do any spiritual practice requires willful commitment and conscious determination. Gratitude is no exception.
Yet the rewards of practicing gratitude on a daily basis are staggering. If we all made a constant effort to practice gratitude, any organization with malice intent would dissipate.
And here is why:
In practicing gratitude, we fill ourselves with a sense of profound fullness.
When we practice gratitude as a way living, our lives overflow with appreciation. We are in constant awareness of every moment and the gift that each of those moments presents. We also embrace the idea of truly living. Gratitude helps us to realize how precious life is.
In practicing gratitude, we see our fellow man and woman as people. We see each other as equals. We see other people struggling through life just as much as we do. We develop and cultivate more compassion. We develop more empathy. We stop taking other people for granted.
In practicing gratitude, we become more generous. We become attuned to the abundance in our life and this world. We become aware that there is enough for everyone. Our generosity becomes woven into the fabric of who were are and flows effortlessly from within us.
And that is when we begin to conquer fear.
When we feel abundant, we become less fearful. When we become less afraid, we have more space and energy to help each other.
Fear makes us do a lot of crazy things. When we are afraid, we become and act irrationally.
Most of us live in a constant state of fear, even if we are not aware. We have become fearful because we are afraid of losing what we have. Society teaches us from a young age to collect as much stuff as possible. Society tells us that having bigger is better. And so instead of living in the abundance of life and enjoying her ever-flowing bounty, we exude the energy of a lifetime to collect worthless stuff.
The fear of ISIS has grown because we have become afraid of losing something. But in many cases, that something we are scared of losing is not even real. We are not addressing our inner fear with a rational and logical mind. We have allowed our fear to overpower our gratitude and appreciation for the blessings we have bestowed on us each and every day.
Our fear is paralyzing us. Our belief in the things we fear is so strong, that we seek out others who share the same beliefs to justify our them. And the more we talk about them, the fears grow. The false evidence becomes real to us.
Can you imagine what our communities would be like if we practiced gratitude instead of fear? Can you imagine what the world would be like?
Again, I realize practicing gratitude is not easy.
First of all, to practice gratitude requires a person to become more mindful and aware. You need to remember to become more grateful. You need to remember to say, “Thank you!” And then, you have to mean it!
Second of all, practicing gratitude requires you to step out of your comfort zone. You will need to become vulnerable.
It takes a degree vulnerability when you say, “Thank you.” Appreciation expressed through gratitude only comes from an open heart. The more open your heart, the more vulnerable you become—but the more impact you will have.
Third, practicing gratitude requires some humility.
Somewhere imprinted in our unconscious lies a list of conditions. These conditions need to be met before we express gratitude or give praise.
Most of us are unaware of how much of our gratitude is conditional. We offer limited appreciation only when our expectations are met. And even then, we seldom express in a sincere manner.
Often, the gratitude we do express is not sincere, but rather comes from an inflated ego. Practicing gratitude can make us humble.
While I was recently leading a One-Month Immersion Teacher Training at Blue Osa, I gave the students a yoga practice. For just one day, their yoga practice was to express gratitude to six people. Only six people.
There were so many people they could have expressed gratitude to. Three people cleaned their rooms every day. Five people cooked their daily meals. They could have expressed gratitude to the other people in the One-Month Immersion.
I returned the next day and asked how many people had done the practice.
I asked them to recommit once again to do the practice that day. I returned the following day and asked how many people had completed the practice.
To witness how few people have little capacity to express gratitude was horrifying, especially considering that these were practicing yogis.
It made me acutely aware of how entitled we feel. This sense of entitlement is damaging and is affecting our community. It damages our relationships and turns us into selfish people.
Just think about it for a moment. Think about your day and all the things you feel entitled to have.
Food that appears in front of you.
A roof over your head.
A place to sleep every night.
Now imagine you don’t have those things.
You can’t. Because somewhere within you, you know you should have them. You have had all these things your whole life so why shouldn’t you have them now? You believe you are entitled to them.
How can we practice gratitude when we feel entitled to so much?
It is impossible to practice gratitude, to feel gratitude, or to give gratitude when you feel entitled.
And in reading this, some of you might be arguing that you are entitled to these very basic needs, which goes right to my point. Even if you are right, and you are entitled, because these are basic needs, over ½ of the world’s population do not have these basic needs. Over 1 billion of the world’s population don’t even make $1 a day. You are so lucky to have what you have. Providence has gifted you so much, but because you have been conditioned to believe you are “owed” these things, you have become weak. And when you don’t have these basic needs, you become emotionally unstable and weak.
And the solution is so simple. You can easily reverse this chain reaction leading to emotional instability by practicing two simple words.
So now, let’s get back to ISIS. This terrorist group wants to make us feel afraid. They want us to turn on our neighbors and communities. They want to stir the worst characteristics from within us.
But by going back to a real and authentic practice of gratitude, fear will have no hold on us.
Don’t believe that gratitude is the key to defeating ISIS? You will never know until you give a sincere, ardent effort.
What I can promise is that if you sincerely practice gratitude for 30 days, your life will change. You will experience an abundance of generosity and peace flowing from and to you. You will live your life to the fullest.
Now, join me in defeating ISIS. Join me on the path of gratitude.