There are many ways to practice gratitude, however the one way that has helped me genuinely develop a sense of gratitude for everything and everyone around me is this concept of interconnectedness. When I say interconnectedness I mean that we are all interconnected and rely on each other in more ways than we think. Even if you live alone with your 20 cats and think, “I’m an independent person and don’t need anyone,” think again. Start to look around and what do you see? No really, what do you REALLY see? How many objects are around you? If you are out in the wilderness as you are reading this and not around any man-made objects, then look at the life around you. The breathing trees that provide you with oxygen, and you provide them with their needed carbon dioxide. Alternatively, for now I am referring to our modern day-to-day use of things, and can count on the fact that you at least have your phone, laptop, or any electronic device to be reading this. Do you know who made the objects around you? I sure don’t, but I know that at least one and maybe many people made a lot of the objects in my daily life, for me to use and enjoy. The bed I sleep on, the laptop I use for work, the coffee mug I use in the morning to drink the coffee that was grown and harvested just for me and many others to enjoy. We count on so many people to help us in our daily lives, that we rarely pause to think about and give thanks to.
The next time you go out look around and notice everything in your daily life that you yourself did not make, but others have made specifically for you to enjoy. When you go to a restaurant and order food, there are people in the back perfecting your plate so you can be happy, and let’s be real, they can get paid. The food they make brings you happiness, the money you pay, pays their rent. This is interconnectedness. We all rely on each other so much more than we think. It’s really a beautiful thing to think about. When I look at the world through this lens, I walk out the door in the morning and these feelings of gratitude flood my body. The other day I walked out of my building in the city and I saw some caution cones, then I looked up the 14 story building and saw a man way up towards the top of the building secured by a rope washing our windows, I immediately thought;
“Wow, I am so grateful for that man, he’s doing something for me that I would be so terrified to do. Thank you.”
When we start seeing and acknowledging how much we rely on each other, and how interconnected we are, gratitude just flows naturally. If we can see the world through interconnectedness and just how much we need each other, small gestures from others will carry so much more meaning. If someone buys you a gift, out of the kindness of their hearts, or better yet makes you a gift, they spend their time and their money to make you happy and give a positive experience.
Another part of this is knowing and understanding who you are, is because of a sum of other people in your life. You received that huge accomplishment or met that huge milestone, because of the support you received, the people who gave you the opportunity, the people who coached you and guided you. Yes, YOU made it happen, but we are all interconnected and our accomplishments are to be celebrated amongst the people who helped us reach our goal. When you recognize people for the important roles they play in your life, you share your happiness with others, and when you share your happiness with others, you will receive more happiness in return.
Interconnectedness can carry us through lonely times in our lives, just like staring at the moon and knowing others around the world are staring at the same moon with you. I challenge you to view your environment through this new lens today. Look at the many hands that build your world, look at the people who support you in any way they can with their love, time, energy, finances, or care. Think about your relationship as a transactional journey between yourself and others, and be mindful of your contributions to the world. How does interconnectedness play a role in your life?