I just got back from a charity bike ride cycling from Vietnam to Cambodia, little I knew when I signed up what was there to come, who I would meet on this trip, and the places I would visit and the people I would meet there. The image I had of Vietnam was one of “ Miss Saigon” and the many movies I have seen and the news I have over the years about the war there. As for Cambodia only what I have seen through the eyes of Angelina Jolly.

The most two significant things that made a foot print in my heart is cycling through the lanes, villages and people’s front door and the simplicity of the way they showed their gratitude and love, with a simple “Hello”. The second was each and every person who was part of this trip; all in their own way contributed to making this trip a very special one for me. Losing my special sunglasses during a trip to a bird sanctuary became a special powerful symbol to some on this trip that needed to be reminded in the power of gratitude and positive thinking, (you know who you are:))! Despite all of the odds I ended up getting them back, that is a story on its own, in short not only I found them but also I was invited to a food feast, shots of rice wine and was sang at a dinner table by the family that owned the sanctuary, an amazing experience not to forget. I am grateful to you all and to all the people in Vietnam, Cambodia and around the planet.

Are you all alive? Well- I guess so if you’re sitting there reading this, right? But are you really alive. Awake, aware and grateful for all you have in every moment? Do you say thank you with each breath, in each step, in each heartbeat?- Nope, neither do we! So let’s make a pact- how about we all spend a little time saying “Thank you”. We’ll start- we are truly thankful for YOU!

This trip would have not been possible without the people behind Parkinson’s UK and would not exist without your love and support!

Gratitude takes practice. It’s a mind-set and an appreciation even when we’re kind of grumpy, and when life’s not all good, it is through this moments you could find at least one thing in every single moment to whisper a thank you for.

To get you started, use my 4 Simple Steps to finding Happiness article by clicking here, being happy and grateful helps you shift your thinking bit-by-bit and become more mindful each day. Before long, your whisper will become an all-out gratitude shout out!

In order to get to the heart of gratitude, you have to come to terms with change. Its in the seasons of change that gratitude is found. Having left the warm weather in Cambodia and landed in the cold weather in London I quickly shifted my focus to appreciate the four distinct seasons we are so lucky to experience here.

It creates a completely different rhythm in your life; nesting, playing and hunkering down. Even the standard four seasons are arbitrary compared to many earth based cultures.  In Cambodia and Vietnam people there have a completely different sense of time and seasons. Rather than living “by the clock” in hours and minutes, they live by their senses and seasons, following nature’s lead. They recognized the gift of nature, and the different gifts that each season brought, their rice harvesting depends on their rainy and dry season.

What can we learn from them? One of the reasons they have survived so long is their ability to adapt and change. I have always been struck by their connection to place and yet they were constantly on the move. I saw millions of people moving in their moped, I even experienced riding one through the busy streets and the dark country lanes on my way back to the birds sanctuary to find my sun glasses. Their homes were designed in a ways to accommodate the rising waters of each season. This meant they were always safe, grounded and prepared for the next change in weather. Adaptability is a key to change, and gratitude is a key to adaptability because you see the gift in every time and place.

If we keep connected to the change of seasons, and the gifts of the earth, we ground ourselves in gratitude.

The turning of seasons is an awesome time to reflect on the gifts of change. Be grateful for all that was, all that is, and all that is to come. Give thanks for blessings that have passed your way and moved on, blessings that are still on their way and blessings in disguise. You are learning, growing, forgiving, hoping, creating, dreaming and so much more. Remember where you’ve been, know who you are, and imagine what’s ahead, and immerse yourself in gratitude. Each season has its purpose. Every change brings gifts. Be thankful for the adventure of being alive in an ever changing world.

True gratitude is to stand in the midst of life with an open mind, an open heart and open hands, and embrace the adventure of being human that can’t be controlled or contained by our limited perspectives. Give thanks for mystery. Give thanks for uncertainty. Give thanks for change. And give thanks for the privilege of participating in ALL of life.

It’s an approach to gratitude that enables you to appreciate ALL of life. You can be honest and real and still live with optimism. Appreciate ALL of your humanity in its variety and the constant evolution of life. Let it all be what it is, and don’t hide or run away. The surprise of events that appear as if from nowhere remind you that life is always changing and YOU are one of the links in the mysterious chain of all things. It starts as surprise, sometimes includes apprehension, continues as gratitude and manifests as optimism and trust.

Without uncertainty, there would be no such thing as clarity, those precious moments of peace. Without confusion, there would be no opportunity to push yourself to deeper understandings. Without chaos, there would be no opportunity to find your still, small inner voice.  Without darkness, light would have no meaning. Without doubt, there would be no opportunity to leap into the unknown from which some of your greatest opportunities arise. Give thanks for it all.

Its tempting to think of gratitude as just being connected to the positive experiences; things that bring instant pleasure. Or else, at times we bend over backwards trying to find a positive perspective in the difficult times. To me, that is part of gratitude but not the whole story. To be sure, part of the problem is that we expect life to follow our expectations and timeline.

Yet for a profound and lasting experience of gratitude, expand your perspective. Get beyond the shallow separation of life into positive and negative, joy and pain. Move beyond gratitude as an emotion that changes according to circumstance. Seek a gratitude that rides the adventure of ALL moments. Its an attitude, an orientation to life that is open, accepting and curious.

Adopt and daily practice the healing power of gratitude; be grateful for all the seasons of life, the doubt and uncertainty as well as the clarity and peace. I guess life is good after all, even the parts that aren’t, it is matter of simply changing the way we think and our perception of things, situations, people and our environment around us.

As the seasons turn, reflect on the gifts of change. You’ve come so far, and grown so much. Think of all that was, all that is, and all that is to come and breathe in gratitude. Remember where you’ve been, know who you are, and imagine what’s ahead, and breathe out gratitude. Each season has its purpose.

Say to yourself: I am thankful for the adventure of being alive in an ever changing world.

©Tony J Selimi Transformational Life Coach, Reiki Master and BMS Healer, London November 2012