“People deal too much with the negative, with what is wrong…Why not try and see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom?”

— Thich Nhat Hanh

A friend stopped by for a visit on Friday and brought her parents with her.  The friend is one I met through mutual activities of her daughter and my granddaughter; and I am not old enough to be her mother, but older than most of her peers.  Likewise, her parents are not as old as mine, but their age and stage of life leave us with few activities in common.  It is always fun to get together with them, because our paths only cross from time to time.  Each new meeting is like a first hello, but with a dose of deja vú added that makes our visits seem like meeting an old friend for the first time.

It has been several years since my last visit with the parents; and during that time I have made a practice of bringing gratitude into each moment of my life.  I realized during our visit how this affects my interactions with other people.  Gratitude is what waters the seeds in the garden of joy; and when those seeds are nourished, being joyful becomes a habit that apparently makes us good company.  We had visited for a time when suddenly my friend’s mother turned to me and said, “you are my kind of person.”  She went on to say that she met too many negative people in her daily life and that she noticed my positive demeanor.

Wow.  In that moment I realized how the simple practice of being grateful has changed my whole outlook on life — and the way I am seen and received by others.  I thought about the people I most enjoy — the ones whose company lifts me up and bolsters my energy — and I realize that they also make a point of appreciating the small bits of sweetness that line their path through life.

Thich Nhat Hanh tells us to see positive things in our world and, “to just touch those things and make them bloom.”  I laugh as I picture myself with a magic wand, touching ordinary things and revealing how wonderful they really are.  My eyes truly see the miracle each time a flower bursts from bud to bloom.  I feel awestruck each time the cardinal does sentry duty to protect his nest from intruders; and I marvel at the way he is programmed to do his part in keeping the order of the natural world.  I stand in the summer rain with my arms outstretched and let it fall into my open hands, and I feel the miracle of life and the way we are sustained by something so much bigger and so very complex; and I marvel at the simplicity of merely needing to be grateful in order to see its beauty.

What I learned during my visit with my now-and-then friends is that the magic wand that transforms the world I see becomes a light when I say something to another person that gets their attention and makes them look at the world in a fresh, new way.  We all can do this for one another.  Extend your hand, and shine your light so that someone who has been drowning in negativity can see the simple things all around as cause for great joy.  Be grateful and let your eyes be opened to the wonder that is our life; and once you have found the miracle, let your light shine.