Gratitude is a faucet to be left always running. Conservation is not an issue when it comes to this element. There is no such thing as waste with Gratitude; it is a precious and plentiful resource. We can pour it out constantly. When purely given with sincerity and no expectation of reciprocity, this outflow allows an inflow for the greater Divinity around us as it opens the door of our heart. This is the great egress which allows a great ingress.
True Gratitude achieves Divine reciprocity because there is nothing attached to it. The return on investment is astounding, “out-performing many of the leading selfless acts.” In fact, five out of five angels recommend it! The dividend is an abundance of receptivity of all that is Divine. Gratitude opens our hearts.
Gratitude makes every day Thanksgiving. Gratitude is thankfulness, appreciation and honor expressed for all that is Divinely provided to us on earth and for our own soul presence in the Universe. It is Communion, belonging, holding hands and saying Grace while sitting at God’s table.
It is the thread that is aware of its own presence in the cosmic fabric. It gives this thread a purpose and a home.
While knowing there may be many challenges in life, Gratitude says: “I am here. I am thankful for the opportunity to live and be my Truth.”
Gratitude honors the chance at awakening while increasing the odds of that happening.
Gratitude is a constant companion of Humility when appropriately expressed. It honors all gifts with head bowed. It sees miracles in all of creation.
Gratitude is directly related to Joy. It brings forth Joy while Joy can elicit Gratitude. Gratitude is heart-shaped. It is a close relative of Love, Wonder, Joy and Devotion. It is sometimes the only way we can express our Generosity.
Gratitude is the currency of recognition for Divinity. It is informed by Optimism. It counts blessings and looks for opportunities for expression. Gratefulness is a sign of our capacity for abundance. It makes everything we have seem like more.
We can say that we are grateful in a card, in a prayer or with a look. We can show it every day with every action we take.
Gratitude is also an emotion. We can feel it and it feels good. It is a positive energy that we are immediately drawn to share with others. It binds the giver and receiver in an intimate Communion. It joins. It re-pairs.
Gratitude is graceful and need not be effusive, only sincere. It is chaotic sometimes as we jump for, or cry tears of, Joy.
It is the simplest prayer.
“Gratitude turns what we have into enough.” -Melody Beattie
A State of Being
I want to promote Gratitude as a constant state of being. I want people to have the habit of emitting Gratitude, allowing it to ooze from their pores, saying grace with each breath.
Conscious Gratitude is being aware of the gifts in each moment. This does not mean there will not be times when we feel challenged to find Gratitude; the overwhelming majority of our life, however, can be teeming with opportunities for Gratitude.
When we are in survival mode, Gratitude can ground us if we take the time to allow it to flow. If we don’t allow it, fear will more than likely rule the moment, affecting our judgment (and lowering our odds of survival.
Gratitude is a habit. When we make it a way of being to be Grateful, we become humble experts at it. Our Gratitude muscle-memory flourishes.
We need to practice flexing our Gratitude muscles every day.
The contrast to Gratitude is states of being that do not serve our spiritual path. Entitlement is the expectation of having all our blessings granted by virtue of some self-importance on our part. There is no appreciation and no honoring of the Divine when we are in this state.
Entitlement can breed a state of resentment as well. We may feel that we have not received what we deserve while others enjoy what we want instead. States of envy and jealousy such as these can poison the soul.
Ambivalence also fails to acknowledge our blessings. Ambivalence is the sad state of being immune to miracles. It is “blah” and sees only gray. It doesn’t care. It is thankless.
Ironically, the more we may have in material abundance, the more we may take it for granted or perhaps desire even more, disregarding Gratitude. Conversely, the less we have in absolute terms, the more likely we are to be grateful for what we do have.
Lacking the ability to feel and express Gratitude is typically a sign that we our suffering in
some way. We are most likely resisting our present reality as well.
On the other hand, with Gratitude as a state of being, we can still suffer at times but we also see around our obstacles and move through them. With Gratitude, we might feel a pang of envy for a friend doing well, but we quickly catch ourselves and make a choice to feel Grateful instead for the opportunities and blessings that they have. In this state, we are never ambivalent because each Breath is a blessing, each blade of grass a miracle.
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you and give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Reconciling Gratitude and Suffering
My father died on Thanksgiving Day, when I was eleven years old. The day dedicated to the celebration and overt expression of Gratitude became entwined with what amounted to great loss, suffering and grief for me.
In the years following, Thanksgiving Day triggered feelings of grief and resentment. Should I be thankful that my father was” taken away,” an event that made my young life stand on its head?
The coming of Thanksgiving each year after my father died became an occasion of quandary for me. It was a day of head-butting between Gratitude and grief. Grief, along with resentment, won out for many years.
Eventually, I admitted that I was still resistant to my father’s death and later I came to accept it. I also realized that while working through the pain of this circumstance, it was possible for me to have more than one emotion at the same time. We can feel Grateful and we can also feel the suffering of grief at the same time. These two emotions, although diverse, are not mutually exclusive. They don’t have to “fight it out” within your psyche. You can simply let them be.
After this realization, I still missed my Dad but I also knew that I had much to be thankful for. I am thankful for the time I had with him, his words of wisdom. In general, I am thankful for all life’s blessings exactly because of how impermanent they are.
Sometimes it can be our greatest challenges that teach us about the preciousness of life. Gratitude, by its nature, recognizes this. This doesn’t mean that we would not have wanted things differently. In retrospect, however, we can accept events as they occur and be grateful for the lessons learned from them. Every experience in life can be seen in this way.
Gratitude as a way of being can be the constant within you that provides stability through the ups and downs of life. There is always something to be grateful for, no matter what the circumstance─ and Gratitude can help us through those things that cause us suffering. Gratitude heals because it keeps our hearts and minds open. It helps us to see the Light and a bigger picture outside of the tunnel vision of crisis and tragedy.
“I have learned this one thing in life; that in whatever state I find myself, therein to be grateful. Whatever condition I find myself, therein to be grateful.” -St. Paul
Gratefulness in Isolation
It is sometimes expressed that we should be grateful because “there is always somebody worse off than we are.” This can serve as a good reminder to count our blessings, but at the same time we should be wary of finding our grace hand-in-hand with the suffering of others, therefore elevating our Gratitude upon their suffering. We can simply be grateful with no reference point or comparison to what others are experiencing. We can be grateful for the blessings we have and appreciate them every day. In addition, if there are others who are worse off than we, we can be thankful for the opportunity to help them and to serve them. If there aren’t, we can be grateful that our fellow Earthlings are succeeding— in other words, allow our Empathy to light the path towards even greater Gratitude than we might ever experience when focused solely on ourselves.
We Are Welcome
When we express Gratitude with a “Thank You,” the common response is “You’re welcome.” In reality, however, Gratitude in its purest form never expects acknowledgement.
“You’re welcome” is usually the expression of another’s Generosity, stating that you are “welcome and deserving of the gift, blessing or compliment given.” Instead, I like to think of this platitude, “You’re welcome,” as a reminder that we are always welcome to express our Gratitude.
Duty to Seek
Gratitude is a sacred duty, an act of Devotion and a method of Communion. We are bound to seek it out in whatever circumstance we may be in. Gratitude demands that we seek miracles within the mundane. It demands that we see abundance in our lack and it asks us to look outside of tragedy and crisis in order to find it. It commands us to express it at all intersections including the intersection of life within. All in all, it encourages us to be grateful just to be.
“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” -John Milton
Gratitude is an expression of Love and it is enthused by the Divinity in all creation.
When we express Joy, Devotion, Respect and Wonder, we express Gratitude for the Divine within all.
Acceptance allows us to seek Gratitude on the outskirts and in the aftermath of tribulations.
Generosity expresses Gratitude for our blessings.
Optimism informs Gratitude because those who are Optimistic understand that the opportunity for Gratitude is always present.
Beauty, Body, Nature and Breath are some other elements that help Gratitude to flow into our lives.
- Turn the faucet of Gratitude on and leave it running!
- Start each morning with some expression of Gratitude, even if it is just for the fact that you did in fact wake up and you are breathing. Try something I like to call the “Snooze Alarm Gratitude Prayer.” I set my snooze alarm at 4-8 minute time periods. For the first alarm, I actually snooze. For the second, I remain awake and meditate on my humble gratitude to the Universe and for the blessings and lessons of my life. I say “Thank You” to the Divine for another day of life. This practice starts the day on a very positive track and I find myself appreciative and accepting of whatever occurs afterward.
- Say grace for each meal (it doesn’t have to be out loud). Express Gratitude for the nourishment you will receive and all those connected to bringing it to you, from the person who picked the crop to the grocer or farm stand you bought it from to the person who prepared it (even if that person was you).
- Count your blessings daily. Marvel at them. Look for the simplest blessings in your life (the tree outside your window, you breath, the water in your glass, your loved ones) and be grateful for them.
- When having difficulty finding Gratitude (possibly in the face of crisis, tragedy or oppression), acknowledge this difficulty. Say to the Divine within yourself: “I am having difficulty finding Gratitude in this situation. Please give me understanding so that I might find Gratitude.” Be patient and trust that the understanding will come. It will.
- Spend time in Nature and simply practice flexing your Gratitude muscle for all the miracles that surround you there.
- Be conscious of and monitor your daily expressions of Gratitude so they do not become rote. Mix them up. Make a game with yourself of finding one new thing in your life to be Grateful for each day.
- Write letters and give cards of appreciation and Gratitude to those in your life. Odds are there are friends and family that you really appreciate. You can let them know in writing. There are also people you come into contact with throughout your day. Write letters or send cards expressing Gratitude for their great service to their organization or just for being who they are. Don’t underestimate the joy you can give to others by sending them something tangible like a good, old-fashioned card or snail mail letter!
- Give to others via charities or directly. Being generous to others is a way of showing Gratitude for what we have and the opportunity to serve. Go on a “Gratitude Spending Spree!”
- Show Gratitude to your own Body through a sincere and consistent self-care and nurturing plan. Create one if you haven’t already; then stick to it.
- Be present. Be aware of the life force within and around you. When your mind wanders, gently bring it back to this awareness. Gratitude will naturally arise with this practice.
- Say “I love you” to your loved ones. Expressing love shows appreciation for others’ presence in our lives. Marcel Proust said: “Let us be grateful to people who make us happy for they are the gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
Thank you for the love you give. Thank you for the life I live.
I know who I am; I am humble and grateful before the Universe.
Thank you for my blessings. Thank you for my lessons. Thank you for this day of life.
Please help me to find Gratitude. Please help me to understand and to keep my heart open.
Please help me to see past my challenges and see the blessings in my life.
Thank you for ________. (Fill in the blank)