I just finished reading Breakfast with Buddha and it had a very strong reminder for me.
The book is about a man named Otto who’s parents died suddenly. Otto has to travel halfway across the country to settle the estate and his sister asks him to bring a monk along for the ride. Otto has never met this monk and in the beginning, doesn’t necessarily believe in everything the monk stands for. Along the journey, Otto tries to show the monk a little bit of the American lifestyle – tourist spots, the beautiful scenery and of course, food. A lot of this book is how tasty food is or can be. The monk also tries to show Otto a bit about his practices. They have to stop along the route at speaking engagements and while Otto resists learning, he comes around. In the end, Otto learns a lot and realizes he needs to look at life differently. Very differently.
The book had a very strong message for me. It wasn’t about practicing religion or becoming a buddhist. The message for me was about gratitude. That word has a pretty big meaning. Most people don’t take time to actually think about being grateful. Think of the food you ate today. Did you enjoy it? Did it satisfy you? Do you even remember what you ate? I remember what I ate, but I definitely can’t say I took the time to be grateful for being able to buy breakfast and lunch and be fed.
Another space we forget to be grateful is communication. Most of us have a cell phone. We use them throughout the day and some of us use them more than others. When they stop working, we freak out! The volume doesn’t work, the screen is cracked and your favorite app doesn’t open. Why do we freak out? This is a material thing and in all honesty, it’s not a priority. Think of our parents or grandparents. They didn’t have cell phones and they got by just fine. This is a “First World Problem”.
Instead of thinking of all the bad or negative things that happen, try to think of it in a more positive light. With your food, savor every bite. Experience all the flavors by eating slow and enjoying it. With your modern day life, be grateful that you can have a smartphone to be in constant communication with others. Some people can’t afford such a luxury. With your friends and family, be present and live in the moment. Enjoy your time with them. And make sure to laugh a little.
Start thinking of at least one thing to be grateful for each day and increase the frequency over time. Start paying attention to the world around you – the colors, the smells, the senses on your skin. And say thank you…a lot!
If you’ve read Breakfast with Buddha, let me know your review in the comments below. And tell me what moment of gratitude you had today.