From the archives August 28, 2006
Getting excited about life can sometimes seem elusive when we’re dealing with many challenges and the associated stress. We always want to experience the best that life has to offer. At times, this preference may have us trying to avoid the challenges life throws our way. Regardless of my preference though, life seems to proceed and the challenge is survived. Along the way, as multiple challenging life situations are simply allowed to co-exist, I discovered an important quality that sustains and fuels my spirit. Not only does this quality help with the journey through difficulty, it also attracts positive experiences that can act as a counter-balance. This quality is gratitude.
Gratitude is more than just acknowledging thanks. It is more than intellectual exercise. It is much more than an obligation. Gratitude is a state of being that appreciates all that is good and welcomed in our life. Gratitude appreciates from the mind through intentional thought that recognizes the richness of our emotional connections with others, and all good things that bless our lives. Relationships are the most significant source for virtually all experiences of gratitude.
Relationship is at play in every interaction and opportunity with another living being. This is one significant reason why pets have been recognized as having a therapeutic and healing effect on patients. The positive experience and exchange of loving energy is present in that moment creating a brief encounter of gratitude, love, and joy. The worry and fear related to a loss of health is momentarily forgotten allowing the fullness of the positive experience to work its’ magic. Taking hold of this perspective, if we acknowledge and allow this focus to become a guiding presence with every connection to another life, I wonder how much more gratitude would be experienced and how much more magic would be enjoyed? I have been enjoying this experience of gratitude and how it positively affects my outlook and each day. With this enjoyment also comes the fuel to go further, not just with gratitude, but also with every other area and dream for my life. A large part of this is the gratitude for the unknown.
The unknown represents the many surprises that show up every day. Too often, we’re so busy with our daily agenda that we don’t take the time to notice the unexpected and discover what surprise might be available for us in that moment. This is when the unknown can be thought of as the Unknown, the Mystery, the Universe, the Creator, etc. Whatever your belief system, there is an invisible element to the beauty and magic that has created all that we see and experience around us every year. Noticing the surprises that show up each day can enhance the experience of the unknown, strengthening the relationship with the Unknown, and increasing the experience of gratitude. With a focus and attention on gratitude each day, the experience of it in your body, in your being, heightens a sense of energy that could be thought of as aliveness. This energy, also a powerful and positive energy, attracts likeness. This is where it is important to know that gratitude is more than an intellectual exercise.
Experiencing, or feeling the energy of gratitude fully in the body is as important as the mental focus on those things you are grateful for. The mental process assists in the transformation to living a life of gratitude. The bodily experience will arrive with consistent mental focus, capturing the negative thoughts and replacing them with a positive thought, preferably combined within the context of gratitude. Consistent effort equates to practicing until this outlook and way of being becomes a habit – a positive habit that replaces one or many negative habits. As you can see, this is not an exercise of obligatory duty, offering kindness, thanks, etc., out of a sense of responsibility to others. This is an act for your own freedom and well-being.
If we are resentful we cannot experience gratitude. Trying to express gratitude out of duty to another is misplaced and misdirected. Gratitude isn’t about what you are giving another. Gratitude is about you – being in gratitude – and what it gives you. This again requires that some attention and focus must be given to the negative thoughts that are preventing the beautiful and powerful experience of gratitude. Inquire within yourself to understand the root that blocks your progress. Acknowledge the weakness once it is identified and invite the weakness to observe while you dance with possibility through exercising gratitude. In time healing and transformation will occur. Be patient with the process and yourself.
Too often we want to see results today, let alone tomorrow. As with the nature of all things, seeds need time to take root and grow. Even here you can experience gratitude, knowing that the Unknown is also acting invisibly upon each see that you plant. The best aspect of this possible reality is that it relinquishes your need to fret and worry about the results. This permits other qualities to arise within your being that also contributes to the fullest experience of gratitude: Faith and trust. Continue with the journey of gratitude and transformation knowing that you are going to see results without worrying what those results should look like. Don’t look at where you’re not, look at where you are and be joyous!