Any of you that are practicing conscious manifestation have been made aware of the power of gratitude. You have learned that the key to manifestation is having an “attitude of gratitude”. Some of you have embraced this idea of living from a space of gratitude full heartedly. Others of you hear the word gratitude, much less the phrase “attitude of gratitude”, and immediately cringe. The thing is, gratitude is where happiness begins. And gratitude genuinely is a priceless tool when it comes to conscious manifestation. Therefore, today I’m going to make a case for gratitude which will cause those of you who are gratitude resistant to release your resistance to gratitude; and which will cause those of you who have embraced gratitude to love it even more.
Let’s start by addressing the resistance to gratitude. If you are someone that cringes when you hear the word gratitude, the reason you feel this way is because of pain. People who struggle with gratitude have had or are having a painful life experience. When this is the case, focusing on what they are grateful for often feels like self-betrayal. It can feel like you are kissing the foot that kicks you. It can also feel emotionally abusive because it can feel like you are invalidating, negating or denying the very real pain that you are in, pain that needs to be acknowledged and resolved instead. So, the things causing you pain will never be changed. And the parts of you that are in pain begin to feel like they are being whitewashed over or sugarcoated and therefore will never be helped, instead they are condemned to suffer forever and suffer alone.
On top of this, people who struggle with gratitude often have had painful experiences relative to gratitude itself in relationships. For example, chances are high that someone in your past was the kind of person where when you acknowledged something positive, it made it more likely that they would never acknowledge or change whatever it was that was causing you pain. And chances are super high that someone in your past (usually an authority and caregiver in your childhood) did things for you and gave things to you in an impure way. Often with hidden transactions and with strings attached. And gratitude became something that made you unsafe. For example, a parent may do something for a child not because of genuine love for the child, but because they want the child to be indebted to them and therefore to do exactly what they want. This becomes a manipulative power play whereby if the child does not do exactly what the parent wants, all the things that the parent did for the child will be held over the child’s head. They will be called ungrateful. To understand more about this, you would benefit by watching my video titled: Cut the Invisible Strings.
Or for example, a child may start to complain about something in their life that is painful to them. And instead of that pain being seen, felt, heard and resolved, it is turned against. And the child is shamed for the way they feel, led to believe they shouldn’t feel that way and that something is wrong with them because they do. An adult in their life (or many) might make it very clear that they should be grateful for what they have. They may follow this up by telling the child about someone else who has it so much worse than they do. Or they may follow this up by countering whatever the child is complaining about with something else in the child’s life that is good and should therefore negate the painful thing. Such as: “You should be grateful for these hand me down shoes, don’t you know some children in Africa and India don’t even have any shoes?” Or imagine that the child gets upset because he or she doesn’t see Daddy much anymore. An adult in the child’s life might say “But look at the bright side, your best friend lives next door.”
On top of this, people who struggle with gratitude often experience pain when they are around someone who is demonstratively in an attitude of gratitude, much less telling them that they should be too. Have you ever been in serious pain and been around someone who is in a happy little bubble, making you feel like something is wrong with you because you aren’t too? Have you ever been in serious pain around someone who is willfully ignoring or who is in total denial of anything negative? It makes you feel worse and less grateful, not more grateful. People who understand the power of gratitude often seriously mess up with people who are in pain. They don’t realize that they are making a person feel worse and taking them further away from a state of gratitude when they suggest that they should adopt an “attitude of gratitude”. They are condemning the person to feeling in pain and like something is bad about them and wrong with them for feeling pain instead of just being able to shift their focus so that they feel good. And totally alone, in their own parallel reality, in that pain. They are condemning the person to a painful parallel reality. To understand more about this, you would benefit by watching my video titled: The Most Dangerous Parallel Reality. And when you are caused pain by these “attitude of gratitude” people who seem to deny and ignore anything negative in favor of only acknowledging what is positive and good, you associate gratitude with them… the person causing you pain. You don’t want to be anything like the person who hurt you, so you throw out gratitude when you decide to be nothing like them.
Gratitude can become a tool of abuse. When these types of painful experiences happen with gratitude, an association begins to form within a person between gratitude and being shut down emotionally, gratitude and being minimized, gratitude and being invalidated, gratitude and being made to feel bad/wrong, gratitude and enmeshment, gratitude and being controlled, gratitude and being humbled, gratitude and being in debt to others, gratitude and being manipulated, gratitude and shame, gratitude and being obligated, gratitude and power struggle, gratitude and the people who hurt you, gratitude and putting up with what you have rather than what you want, gratitude and your pain never being resolved because people will simply think everything is ok, when it’s not, etc. An association forms between gratitude and pain. No wonder you cringe at the idea of gratitude.
Anytime you have a painful association with something, the way out of it is to develop a new relationship and form new associations with it. For example, if you have had a terrible experience with a dog, what heals that is having a wonderful experience with a dog. If you hated Christmas, what heals that is to take charge of the holiday and fill Christmas time with the unique things you specifically want Christmas to be about; things you can look forward to all year long. Just because gratitude is something that may have brought you pain in the past, doesn’t mean that it always will and doesn’t mean that your trauma relative to gratitude can’t be healed. Just because an ‘attitude of gratitude’ can definitely be used as a tool of resistance and denial and therefore cause people pain, doesn’t mean that it can’t also be a very valuable tool to have in your own tool box… a tool that you can use for your own happiness and a tool that you can use to manifest what you want.
All that being said, here is my case for Gratitude:
- Gratitude does not negate anything negative or unwanted. Gratitude does not cancel pain out. Gratitude does not minimize anything painful. Anyone who is using Gratitude in this way, is in a state of resistance and is using gratitude as a tool of resistance. They are afraid of seeing and acknowledging the painful, the unwanted and the negative. The truth of this universe is that polarity exists. In any moment, you have the negative and the positive; the wanted and the unwanted. To be in reality, is to clearly see both. And Consciousness is where we need to head if we want to truly become conscious. To understand this, watch my video titled: And Consciousness, The Modern-Day Replacement for The Middle Way. But chances are that if you are resistant to gratitude, you are resistant to acknowledging the positive. You are afraid of looking at the positive. Ask yourself why. Directly see, hear, feel and acknowledge your resistance to gratitude and work through it. When this is the case, you lack awareness of the positive and wanted side of the equation of life. And this means, in order to be conscious, you need to expand your awareness there! Know that gratitude does not and should not invalidate the things in your life that are painful, unwanted and negative. Gratitude is simply one of those powerful tools you have in your tool box.
- Forget all that crap about being indebted or obligated or being expected to give thanks. To have gratitude for something is to have appreciation for that thing and to be conscious of the benefit you receive by having that thing. And to appreciate means to see the full worth of something. It is to see the positive about it. Gratitude implies that you acknowledge that you are pleased with something. Therefore, think of gratitude as notice, awareness and acknowledgement of what is positive about something. And therefore, acknowledgement of the worth and value of it.
- On an energetic level, gratitude is actually no different than putting your order in with the universe regarding your life experience. It calls the positive and the wanted to you. This is why it is such a powerful manifestation tool. When you are focusing on what you are grateful for, you are letting the universe know what you love. Vibrationally speaking, gratitude is a big “yes, I like this and I want more of this!”. Gratitude is a state of receptivity to the positive. This is a pretty powerful state to be in vibrationally speaking. And this interests the universe because it tells the universe more about what it is and what to choose to become. This means, by focusing on what you are grateful for, you are assisting the goal of self-awareness that the universe at large has for itself.Have you noticed that when someone seems to really be conscious of the full worth and value of something you are or you do, and indicate that they love it, you feel more and more compelled to be that way or do that thing for them? How do you feel when someone takes you and/or something you do for granted and doesn’t really see its positivity, worth or value? One feels like an openness to you, the other, like a closedness to you. And the universe at large is a macrocosm. The universe at large responds the same way you do to appreciation. When you really appreciate something, you are opening up to receive from the universe. When you are only focusing on the negative and unwanted, naturally you are closing off and pushing things away from you. And in a universe based on the law of mirroring, this means the ‘other’ closes off to you. Acknowledging and really feeling what you are grateful for is mirrored back to you as abundance. Only noticing and feeling what you don’t have and what you don’t like is mirrored back to you as lack.
- Gratitude creates happiness in relationships and increases the strength of bonds in relationships. Let’s look at gratitude as it exists only between two people. What happens to you and to how you feel towards the other person and to how you feel towards the relationship that you have with that person, when another person is only focused on what is displeasing, what is a problem, what is bad and wrong, what is negative, what is unwanted and what is a problem about you? What happens when they don’t see or acknowledge your value and worth? Eventually, you feel like crap about yourself, you feel hurt by the other person and so, you might even start to see them as an adversary and start to hate them. You feel unhappy and the relationship feels painful and unhealthy. You may even want to leave the relationship. Having gratitude for other people and for the relationship you have with them and expressing that to them, functions the exact opposite way. It makes the other person feel good about themselves, feel positive towards you, feel happy and fulfilled in the relationship, feel closer to you and see you as an ally. And this in turn causes them to pull you closer, committing to you more.
- Your emotional system is designed to reflect thoughts. You will not feel happy if you are thinking about what is negative, what you lack, what you don’t want and what is bad and wrong. Those type of thoughts will reflect in your being as things like anxiety, fear, constriction, depression, sinking, darkness, soreness, heaviness, cold, pain etc. This does not mean that there isn’t an important place and purpose for looking at those things. Don’t take this to that place where people in resistance take it when they say things like “the key to life is to focus only on the positive”. All this means is that if you want to feel the sensations you judge as feeling good and that you associate with happiness, you can feel them by thinking about what is positive, what you have that you appreciate, what you want and what is good and right… Gratitude.
- Gratitude can be compared to eating healthy food or exercising or bathing or making healthy lifestyle choices. It is a powerful element of self-care and health. Gratitude causes a cascade of physiological effects. It does the mind, emotions and body good. It causes you to feel optimism about the future. It improves your self-esteem. It rewires your brain for the better. It causes your tissues to relax. It causes you to breathe deeper. It causes your heart rate to slow down and to be coherent. It builds your resilience. It causes you to feel “up” instead of “down”. It pulls you out of fight or flight mode. It increases dopamine in your brain. It dramatically reduces pain. It makes you more rational. It decreases inflammation in the body. It causes you to be open to life. It reduces your stress. It makes you better at communicating. It regulates your metabolism. It puts you in a state of receptivity to positive things, where you are a vibrational match to what you are wanting and what you like. It increases your immunity. It acts as a buffer against trauma as well as the development of PSTD as a result of that trauma. It decreases both envy and jealousy. It makes you kinder and more generous. It gives you better sleep. It creates stronger social bonds and improves your relationships.
Practicing gratitude does not have to be difficult, cheesy, pathetic, trite or painful in any way. And you can do it in ‘your’ way. But a few ideas for ways to practice gratitude are:
- You can start a gratitude journal where every day, you write down a list of anything from big things to very simple and small things that you are pleased with, that you like, that you are happy you got to experience, that you see the positive in, that you want more of, that you recognize the worth and value of and that you are thankful you have.
- Any downside has an upside and any upside has a downside. See if you can increase your awareness by finding the upside to any downside. Relative to anything that you are displeased with, don’t like and see as negative, can you find the hidden positives in those things? For example, potentially getting fired contains the positive of having time to focus on what really makes you passionate and you don’t have to be around that colleague you don’t like anymore and you are no longer tied down to living in this specific city or place and it’s kind of exciting to think about what new life experiences and new people and what different chapter of your life might be coming next as a result.
- You can choose someone specific and intentionally demonstrate gratitude for them in some specific way. For example, you can write a message of gratitude to someone. In this letter, you can write to them about the things about them that you like, that you see the value and worth of, that you are pleased with and what about them you are thankful for. If you’re not a big writer, you can speak it to them instead. This being said, keep in mind that people are often very limited in terms of how they recognize gratitude. Many people only think of gratitude in terms of words of affirmation. But any of the love languages, such as physical touch, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service and quality time can be demonstrations of gratitude. Even things like someone defending you, asking for your opinion, showing you loyalty, committing to you, taking actions to change the things about themselves that cause you pain, staying in touch with you, keeping you in a certain place in their life or in their heart etc. can be a way that they show gratitude for you.
- You can do an awareness meditation where you pretend to be someone who has much less than you have. For example, you could pretend to be someone who is very poor financially or who is less free than you are or who lacks resources regarding their emotional needs. And imagine going into their body and walking through your life, but as them. What might they appreciate about your life?
- You can do a practice I call the ‘scavenger hunt for positives’. To do this exercise, you simply look around you, taking notice of literally anything that is positive or that you like. And you mentally say what it is, in your own head. For example, say you are driving. You might take notice of a car whose color you like, you would mentally say to yourself “The color of that car.” And then if you saw a dad with his daughter on his shoulders, you would mentally say to yourself “The way that dad is being with his daughter”. You might even say to yourself “That I am doing this focus exercise right now and am able to change the way I feel”. And so on and so forth. It may help you to set a timer or to decide upon a block of time to be disciplined about this exercise. Just like meditation, if you feel your mind going back to problems or to what you don’t like, don’t fight that it happened, just re-direct your focus back to hunting for things you like.
To make a deliberate practice of gratitude is this simple: It is to make space for appreciation in your life. For most people, gratitude is not something that just happens to and for them. It isn’t something you just feel. To feel gratitude, you have to do something actively to feel it. But doing something actively so as to feel it, is a very powerful tool. It can help you to bring about not only happiness, but also whatever it is that you are wanting.