Living with a Spirit of Gratitude~Commencement Speech

Tonight I am leading a Slow Flow Gratitude Playshop at Yoga Sol.  I am very much looking forward to it, as I truly believe living with a spirit of gratitude is one of the keys to living a happy and peace-filled life. I’ve spent my morning researching the topic of gratitude on-line, looking through my many self-help/personal growth books, and going back through some of my old writings and posts.  Through this process, I came across my Graduate School Commencement Speech which addresses living with a spirit of gratitude, and I thought I’d share it here for those who are interested:

Commencement Speech

Leslie Kersha

05.05.07

“As I thought about how I’d like to begin this morning, I kept coming back to a visual of myself as a little girl.  My parents had a room in our basement that was a playroom for me and my little brother.  I took over one large corner of that room and made it into my own personal little classroom.  I had a desk, a chalkboard, my father was a principal so he brought me an occasional teacher’s version of a text book, and I made many, many worksheets about all different subjects.  I remember spending quite a bit of my recess time in elementary school making up worksheets, and when I got home, I could literally spend hours in that play room teaching my imaginary class.

Some would say perhaps I’ve been lucky because I have always known that my calling in life is to teach.  I spent four years teaching English in a traditional classroom setting.  One of the reasons I chose to teach English was because of the life lessons I could talk with students about from the literature we read.  While teaching was definitely challenging and rewarding, I began to realize that there are many other environments that would also allow me to teach in different ways.  I had started instructing fitness classes and found one of my passions in teaching yoga.  Through my experiences I was learning what I truly wanted to do was to try to help people learn how to live more fulfilled, healthy lives.  This led me to pursue my Master’s Degree in Educational Counseling.  And, here I am today.

I realize that each and everyone of us in this room has a very individual, unique and valuable story that has lead up to being here today.  And it is through the telling of my story, that I hope to illustrate one of three important life-lessons:  This lesson is that each one of us truly has the power to create the life we want.  You—in this moment, are creating your life through your thoughts and actions.

It really does begin with what and how you think.  And, if perhaps you’re not sure what you think, a place I’ve found myself many times, you must then challenge yourself to get still, block out all the messages from a world that likes to tell you what you should be thinking and should be doing, and listen to your inner voice and wisdom and then…trust that which you truly already know.

When we begin to recognize our thoughts, as long as we are open to the opportunities life has to offer us—this is a very important piece of the puzzle—we must be open, these thoughts then turn into intention which can then lead to action, and things very often, and sometimes mysteriously, fall exactly into place.

So, please recognize and embrace the fact that you have been and are continuing to create your life, and on a very important day as is today….allow yourself to celebrate–celebrate this life you are creating.  Always trust that all your hard work and dedication is moving you in the direction of your dreams.

The second very important lesson I have learned throughout my life is the importance of creating a life of balance.  I have always been a very motivated, driven, sometimes extreme, constantly in fast-forward mode-type person.  While in some respects these characteristics can be quite a positive force in my life, if I don’t keep them in check, I open myself to becoming sick, tired, burned out, and living a life that is passing me by while I’m rushing around getting things checked off my to-do list.

If this living in a state of fast-forward sounds familiar to you, I encourage you to create some balance–slow down, pay attention, recognize there is a time for planning and goal setting and thinking about the future– but most of the time we need to stop thinking, analyzing, moving and take a deep breath, giving our full attention to what is going on right now.

This lesson is one I find very challenging to fully integrate into my life on a daily basis.  Our society is not one that rewards mindfulness as much as it does multitasking; however, I so believe in the power of being present in each moment of life and creating balance that I will continue to try and realize when I am thinking in the future, I will then take a deep breath, and recognize what is happening right NOW.

Lastly, and probably one of the most rewarding lessons I have learned is the importance of living with a spirit of gratitude.  I have had a very, very blessed life.  I realize this fully.  I also know that there isn’t a day that goes by that I am not consciously thankful for the wonderful family I have, my husband, my friends, my pets, my home, my car, my job, my education….I truly could go on and on.  When we recognize and are grateful for all the blessings—even the small ones, and that’s important, on those days when it feels like nothing is going quite right, find something, anything you can be grateful for—and when we are grateful, life cannot seem lacking.  Instead, we see clearly that life is abundantly full and promising.

While I am no longer that little girl playing teacher in my playroom, but now am a grown-up living life in a very fast-paced and seemingly complex world, I always try to keep the lessons I have learned in the forefront of my mind and let that guide how I live.

  1. We do have the power to create the life we desire—we are pure potential.
  2. We must constantly strive to find balance and presence in our life—we can always choose to take a deep breath, slow down, and live mindfully.
  3. When we live in a state of gratitude, life is full and rewarding—we must find something everyday to be thankful for.

Today, I am thankful for my graduate degree, for all those people—

especially my husband—who supported me on my journey here, and I am thankful for this opportunity to speak to you.  I wish each of you a balanced life full of true joy and inner peace. So, celebrate yourself and this life you are creating.  Thank you.”

Shine On,

Leslie ~Sparkling Yogini

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