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Theme Five: Appreciating the Landscape of Our Emotions The essential insight — that thoughts and feelings come and go, and that we may have thoughts, but they do not have us — can spark a small revolution in anyone open to the teaching. ~ Kristi Nelson Summary Emotions and thoughts come and go like the weather. In the midst of life, we experience feelings on the spectrum from desirable to undesirable and from easy to challenging most every day. Abundant research has shown that mental health is every bit as vital to well-being as physical health. Without adequate attention and care, our longings for mental and emotional stability, contentment, and happiness can feel overwhelming, especially if we have no road-map. Our emotional struggles can make us feel isolated and/or ashamed. These “secondary” feelings only compound our challenges. Yet, in so many ways, we have far more agency than we know or use. Grateful Living can help us reorient our mind to become more accepting, compassionate, and curious about our thoughts and feelings. And we can work with — as opposed to against — habits of the mind, learning with awareness from all of our moment-to-moment thoughts and feelings. Cultivating gratefulness allows us to embrace the great fullness of our mental and emotional landscape; we recognize that all of our feeling experiences can be allies in providing us with information and opportunity. As Br. David says, “It is not happiness that makes us grateful; it is gratefulness that makes us happy.” Resources, links and the questions are located at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1lG2AVtEVW4mSsAKaw4Kux7QBi-i-rcsI/view Questions for Reflection and Discussion Presence What are some ways you might invite yourself to be more present with your thoughts and emotions? What happens when you become more present to your thoughts and emotions, both “negative” and “positive”? Throughout the day, how could you practice using awareness of your emotions to become more fully present to the moment? Perspective What kinds of experiences remind you to have a more grateful perspective about your thoughts and feelings? What are some experiences in your life that have helped you embrace the great fullness of your emotions and feelings? Possibility What are some ways you can support yourself to inhabit a more full landscape of your emotions? How might appreciating the full range of your own thoughts and feelings — even the difficult ones — inspire greater empathy and compassion for the struggles of others? How might this invite you to act differently in the world? What might it inspire?