The National Science Foundation reports the average person has between 12,000 and 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 80% are negative, and 95% are the same repetitive thoughts as the day before.
Our fleeting thoughts often feel like a cage of chattering monkeys have taken up residence in our heads.
Scattered thoughts like:
Did I feed the dog before I left? Maybe I’d better pick something up for dinner. Oh, look, a cute little bunny on the side of the road. Did I just miss my exit? I can’t do anything right. Does that pain in my stomach mean I have cancer?
It seems as if the monkeys’ chatter is non-stop. Sometimes they carry on their noisy din deep into the night.
So, how do we feed our monkey-minds some bananas to quiet them down?
Benedictine Monk Brother David Steindl-Rast teaches that gratitude is the pathway. We can experience every day as a grateful day if we open our hearts and view our lives through the lens of gratefulness.
Gratitude calms our minds. It cultivates happiness as we stop to remember each moment is a precious gift—one we’ve been given, and will never have the chance to re-live.
Gratitude invites us to pause, take a deep breath, and notice what we’re thankful for in this moment.
Instead of the rampant racket that often rattles through our brains, what if we refocused our thoughts on such things as:
I have people who love me, a warm house, and food. My heart is amazing—it pumps nourishing blood throughout my body without me having to tend to it. I am safe in this moment.
Taking a moment to list what we’re grateful for grounds us in the Present Moment. It temporarily halts the monkey-chatter.
Gratitude allows us to befriend the monkeys. It’s like singing a lullaby to them and tucking them into bed at the end of the day. As we pull the warm blanket of gratitude over our noisy chimps, they close their eyes, and sigh a cleansing ahhh. When the monkeys starting chattering again, we can stop and focus on the goodness in our lives as we pull the blanket of gratitude back over our monkey-minds. The gift of gratitude then re-grounds and refocuses us.
Consider practicing gratitude this week. When the monkeys take up residence and start their non-stop babble, take a moment to pause and list five things you’re grateful for. Then rest in the blanket of gratitude.
Let gratitude ground you.
—brian j plachta