Gratitude is the single practice that can increase your happiness in about 25%, the scientist say. It not necessarily felt towards someone or something. It can just be an internal feeling that starts and flows from your Self to your Self. It is a state of mind where the ego rests aside, clearing the space to openness and appreciation. Gratitude is intrinsic, it needs no subject, no object. Though you can find a lot of things and people to whom you may be grateful. Of course, a ‘thank you’ said to someone with sincerity and love is a source of great joy (well, this can just be an act of politeness)… but even if there is no one to thank and no object to thank for, gratitude is a feeling you are surely worth of experiencing.
It is not easy to feel gratitude when the judgmental mind is measuring the events of the day with the attitude of an old skinflint. It is not easy to feel gratitude when the ego is inflated to the level of “I deserve more and have so little”. Such an attitude by itself is by itself a hell. The rejecting mind is a barrier to blissfulness. It is missing the whole point… missing the essence.
Cultivating gratitude comes slowly by calming down the mind, as a meditation, as a prayer. The mind may resist in the beginning. You may feel a thick layer over your heart not allowing you to experience gratitude genuinely. But through regular practice you’ll discover a heavenly dimension of your existence. “If the only prayer you say in your life is ‘thank you,’ that would be suffice” (Meister Eckhart). Recognizing the miracle of being alive, the miracle of breathing, and the value of whatever your day brings unlock your heart to the bliss of gratitude.
Feel gratitude but don’t feel inferior. This is the other extreme of the egoistic feeling of deserving more. You deserve all the experiences that you have and you deserve to make the best of each and every moment in your Life, even the harsh painful ones. Making the best is the choice you take when you are grateful. With gratitude you realize how precious you are and on a certain level, how valuable are the “tiny little” things, how hardships can be inspiring, and even a loss is not the grief you think it to be. You realize that you Just be grateful.
Gratitude can be is a sense thankfulness for having something that others do not have. As someone expressed it: “I had the blues because I had no shoes until upon the street, I met a man who had no feet.” But this is yet not the gratitude I am talking about. This is comparison. What if I were on the other side: the one on the street? This is the same mechanism the mind uses to create thoughts of superiority, pride, inferiority and jealousy. This is a judgmental approach. Gratitude that can be ‘figured out’, that is a result of thinking and comparing is not the real one. True gratitude is beyond reasoning, beyond conditioning.
Each and every experience you pass through, no matter how tough it may seem, is a gift that your day has brought. Receive it with gratitude.
Each and every experience you pass through, no matter how tough it may seem, is a gift that your day has brought. Receive it with gratitude. For with gratitude, even the most painful situation, no matter how hard it is, can be transformed to an uplifting one. Each and every obstacle is a bridge to understanding. Is a hardship anything other than a conflict between your version of the story and the version of the current moment, between your wish and your real? Each and every person you meet is a chance to interact and discover your image reflected in the other. Receive every person you meet with gratitude. Allow your heart to embrace Life with all its diversity…
Seek gratitude but don’t seek through it to receive more. You have what you need and Life will always provide you with what you exactly need. Having more is a burden… In gratitude seek only gratitude and nothing more. Though with thankfulness you open the doors of abundance, though you may find a lot of things to be grateful for having in your Life, remember that the most precious thing you have is Life itself!
Let your day to start and finish with thankfulness. When you wake up, take some time while still in bed to connect to your inner stillness, recognize the coming day as a new miracle. Deep within pronounce the words “I am grateful”. When you go to bed in the evening as you close your eyes, connect to your breath and feel your inner silence. Repeat to yourself: “I am aware of the blessing I am showered with. I am grateful for having it in my Life. Life itself is the blessing!” If there is a concrete event that happened during the day or if you met somebody, you can add: “I’m grateful to have (name the people you met today) in my Life. My Life is a continuous procession of grace and blessings.”
Remind yourself several times through the day to find your breath and feel appreciation. It is there. Just feel it!