Gratitude Applied: Turning Off the Noise

Dan Bolton



Last week I took a short one night trip out of town. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it since I had a long list of unfinished to-do’s for my job and my practice that were bearing down on me. The only way I thought I’d get the pressure off was to get them done. It took a lot to pry myself away from my work and follow through with this stress free getaway, which had now started to stress me out. All I could hear were different iterations of my boss’s voice telling me what I needed to get done, what I was behind on, what was overdue, lamenting every imagined word. Then I countered with my own inner voice blabbing on about all of what I needed to finish to get myself ready to move my private practice to be full time, how I needed to be more disciplined, that I needed to keep up with my blog yet not knowing what to write about or not having enough time, spiraling myself into a vortex of frustration.


Once up at the small hotel by the beach all that noise in my head began to quiet. I settled in to the idea of being away from home and work for the time being, walked on the beach, used my phone to film some of what had been creatively brewing in my head which I had not had time to do, and I began to feel much lighter. But, I had not let go of the idea of getting some work done later, as I had also brought my laptop. I was relaxed, but the noise persisted.


Then, I woke up to the picture you see above. At the moment I stood on the shoreline and looked out into the horizon, that place of inner quiet was seduced from within me, and the noise shut off. What I had thought was urgent was now something of lesser importance. The matters of consequence were part of the noise that was blocking me from what is truly important to me in my life. 


Yes, the problems need to be dealt with, but how did I let them acquire such a place of prominence in my life? I was able to reframe my perspective that those problems are still back home, but for the time being I am here and they are there. I can deal with them later. They’ll still be there on Monday whether I enjoy this moment or not!


The wave of gratitude I felt at the bounty nature had laid in front of me with this scene pulled me out of my mind, and the constant noise the mind tends to pull us all into, to a place of just being for a little while. With the psychological distance this moment gave me from the problems in my life, I was actually able to appreciate the dilemma I was in and think through my options more objectively.


Did I do anything profound? No. Did I answer the unanswerable questions in my life? Solve all of the dilemmas of my day to day life? Nope. Did I feel revitalized and happy, with renewed energy to face the problems that were waiting for me? You bet I did. This little reprieve helped me remember who I am, where I come from, what truly makes me happy, and feel grateful about my existence, so that when push comes to shove in life I can be settled, focused, and ready to steer this vessel that is me through any storm. That is the power of gratitude.


What are you going to do this week to disconnect from the noise?




Photo © Dan Bolton 2011