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How Do You Express Gratitude?
By Art Ramsay, Ph.D.

 It is the “holiday season” as it is called these days, and I just finished Thanksgiving week here in the United States. This experience got me thinking about what gratitude really means. While I have written about gratitude in the past and use it as an author, its deep meaning came through during a “21 Days of Gratitude” immersion last month. Gratitude only has meaning when you feel it.

 We live in societies where being thankful is taught by religious and educational organizations. Somehow, it makes us better citizens when we say “thank you”, because it is the “polite” thing to do. I learned to say “thank you”, as many children do, from my mother, but it had little meaning to me then.

 As a child in many societies, if you forget to say “thank you” at the appropriate time you will most likely be punished; after all it has been drilled into you dozens of times. What does this kind of gratitude convey to the receiver? If the receiver is taught the same as the sender, it has satisfied the “politeness” of the matter.

 But what if the receiver of the above example was not taught this way? If the person receiving the “thank you” had learned the true meaning of gratitude, then the words from the sender will feel shallow and meaningless. The receiver may politely respond with the appropriate “you’re welcome”, but feel nothing when saying it.

 Does the above example demonstrate real or true gratitude, as I call it? The answer is obvious. We grow up learning what I call “cardboard gratitude” or maybe even fake gratitude. As I write this, I wonder how much “cardboard” expression in our relationships is also taught us by society.

 Gratitude is normally expressed when receiving a gift on an occasion such as a birthday, but there are plenty of other reasons to say “thank you”. The gift we receive could be as simple as a smile or grandiose like a car or house. If our feeling of gratitude is dependent on the size or quality of the gift, we lose its entire meaning.

 More meaningful is being grateful for what you already have regardless of its financial value or even its value to you in whatever way you perceive it. To me, being grateful for what I already have in my life heaps a ton of happiness to my everyday existence. If we cannot be grateful for what is already in our lives, how can we expect more to arrive?

 There are so many ways to express gratitude that we could be continually saying “thank you”. But, of course, we don’t. Why? Because our lives are too busy. Most of us feel like the Universe knows we are grateful for what we have, so it is not necessary to continually repeat it. This mindset has been proven to not work. We must verbally express our thanks if we are to lift our vibration of energy to that of gratitude.

 Does this mean we must continuously verbalize gratitude? No. It means that whenever the opportunity arises, remember it is a feeling, we just say “thank you”. We humans think too much, because that is what our brain does. What if we replaced all of our useless, repetitive thinking with gratitude? We would be happier beings.

 Many people keep a gratitude journal, because writing things on paper further amplifies them in our minds. Such a journal, as with any journal, gives us a way to reflect on how we have moved forward in some way and may help us toward our next step. Keeping track of our progress towards a goal gives us feedback about changing direction or not.

 One aspect of gratitude that became clear over the past few weeks is to be thankful for my mistakes and how they help me grow spiritually. This is a practice that is not often mentioned and actually pushed away rather than being embraced. This is a big mistake because thanking those things that seem to not work for what they are telling us, helps us break through barriers.

 How can someone feel grateful for the seemingly “bad” things that happen to them? Because just like poems and songs speak of the rainbow at the end of a storm or the pot of gold the rainbow points to, we can look for the rainbow pointing to our next step that exists in the center of hurtful moments.

 The practice is to develop heartfelt appreciation for everything in our lives, no matter how it is judged. When we feel hurt by something someone did or said, for example, peering through the veil of pain and being thankful brings love into our hearts. The discovery of what it has given us cannot be equaled.

 Begin a practice of thanking everything and everyone for what and who they are in your life. Be thankful for what nature brings if it is near you or visit some natural setting, and revel in the beauty around you. Be thankful for your dwelling, whether rented or owned, and the safety and comfort it provides for you.

 Give thanks for your family members, both near and far, and what they bring to your life. Be thankful for your neighbors even if you don’t like what they do or how they live. They are in your life for a reason.

 Wake up each morning expecting “the best day ever”, look out the window and give thanks to sun, clouds, rain, or whatever for this brand new day; a day to begin again. It is your chance to change what hasn’t been working or move even closer to what will work better.

Begin to think that a day without thankfulness is like “a day without sunshine” as the saying goes. Lift your vibrations, maximize your energy through gratitude and watch your life sour with abundance and love.

 

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