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Gratitude: The Eyes of the Heart

Gratitude is a big word.

As humans, living in a society that demands we constantly be productive, we get pulled into this vacuum of thought where we desire more and more. We strive for this perfect life, which is an illusion of sorts. We find ourselves wanting more things: a bigger house, a more luxurious car, more status, and more money. It has become too easy to lose sight of all we have—especially those things that have been gifted to us at birth because of a gracious Universe, not because we have earned them.

The Universe has bestowed upon each of us our unique physical abilities, such as the functioning of our eyes and ears, legs and arms, heart and lungs. It is up to us to see these abilities as the blessings they are.

Recently, I visited with an elderly woman who had just lost vision in one eye. She was also struggling with an autoimmune diagnosis that had left her physically impaired at her advanced age. I had always known her as a strong woman of faith, yet one who had struggled with ego at times in her life. I did not know how she would respond to a visit with me, because I knew appearances had always meant a lot to her. Yet, she was calm and peaceful when she saw me.

“Oh, I am so thankful I can still see with my other eye,” she said as she greeted me.

She was seeing with the “eyes of the heart,” which is what it is all about, for that is where our truth and our light resides.

Shortly after, I heard from an acquaintance of mine who was in the midst of a serious financial struggle. Within the last few months, my friend had lost both his house and job and was facing homelessness. I knew he had an abundance of material wealth, so I was concerned with how he would adjust to his new living situation.  His voice cracked with emotion when I spoke to him, as he said, “I’m very thankful that the Universe is always protecting me. I am deeply grateful for the work I have and the food and shelter provided for me.”

Beyond our gifts of health and wellness, we have each been given the ability to feel and to reason, as well as various talents, attributes, and so much more, all coupled with the gifts of family, friends, and animals. And then there are more gifts of security, shelter, food, and water. In reality, our blessings are endless. Each one of us is abundant on so many levels.

Now, in addition, imagine all the blessings we have in the form of our good fortune—of avoiding many common daily global challenges, including war, starvation, and basic human rights violations. Many in the world are faced with these immense adversities daily.

Gratitude allows us to observe in a different light all that goes beyond our daily wants and wishes. It enables us to go deeper into a place of pure awareness, and truly come into the realization that we each have so much to be grateful for, in every moment of the day and night.

The thirteenth-century Persian philosopher and poet, Saadi, expressed it beautifully: “In each breath of life, we need to give thanks for two blessings; the gift of breath which allows us the gift of life, and the gift of connection to the Divine and all Creation.”

So, as the year is coming to a close, and the holiday season approaches, let us sit in this beautiful space of loving gratitude. For all we have and all we do not is equally a blessing when we see with the eyes of the heart.


Mitra Rahbar is an Iranian-born spiritual teacher, healer, guide, and singer/songstress. She is the author of Miraculous Silence: A Journey of Illumination and Healing Through Prayer, published by Penguin Random House. Mitra currently resides in Southern California.

This essay was featured in the Nov. 18th edition of The Sunday Paper, Maria Shriver’s free weekly newsletter for people with passion and purpose. To get inspiring and informative content like this piece delivered straight to your inbox each Sunday morning, click here to subscribe.