Free Your Pen

Buddhist Writing Prompt: Be grateful to everyone

Be grateful to everyone is about recognising that you’re dependent on everybody else for your existence. That’s not easy to accept, especially in relation to someone or something you don’t like. But mind training is about befriending those parts of yourself and others that you reject.

The original lojong slogan is the same as my version – I couldn’t improve on it! This slogan reminds you that anybody can hold up a mirror which allows you to see yourself more clearly. What you reject in others is a sign of something within yourself that could use a little acceptance and compassion. When you embrace your shadow selves and practice acceptance, your compassion can then spread to everyone. So you can learn something from everybody. Every situation provides an opportunity to become more awake and compassionate.

Going deeper than that, your actual existence is dependent upon everybody else. Everything that exists is interdependent. Nothing could come into being without everything else. You couldn’t be who you are without the whole structure of your life around you, the relationships, good and bad, easy and difficult, that make you who you are.

Apply this slogan to your writing practice by recognising all the various relationships and circumstances that you rely on in order to write, as well as the people who helped to form your personality as a writer. The way you write and the kinds of stories you want to tell have been imperceptibly influenced by every interaction you have ever had. If you had grown up in a different neighbourhood perhaps you would want to write different stories, for example.

It’s not only your own personality that is subtly shaped by others. The inspiration for your writing can come from all sorts of unusual places and people too. When you open your life to be grateful to everyone, inspiration can come from almost anywhere.

Your writing prompt this weekend: Begin a gratitude journal or diary. Every day write down ten things you’re grateful for.

More in the book: Free Your Pen: Mind Training for Writers


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