An attitude of gratitude is the state of openness to love, joy and peace we experience when we turn our attention toward the reality of Being.
Ahhhh… gratitude. Just by saying the word silently or aloud, you can feel your body, heart and whole being begin to open and relax.
Even from the level of the mind, we can use the mind to direct our attention toward the reality of Presence, of pure Beingnes. A simple way to do this is to consciously think of things, people, or experiences we are grateful for. It automatically opens the heart in gratitude.
For the purpose of this article, I like this meaning of the word “attitude” from Oxford American Dictionaries: “The orientation of an aircraft or spacecraft [or a human being], relative to the direction of travel.” In other words, an attitude is a direction to turn toward.
The way I see it, on the physical plane, there are only two directions we can face toward, relative to the two basic energetic states that we can live in: a positive state or a negative one. Although there are many variations of these states, all of our feelings fall into these two categories.
In the first attitude or orientation, we are aware of our connection with our inner Source of wellbeing. We feel positive energy, love, appreciation, and we have a positive outlook on life.
In the second attitude, or direction to turn in, we are contracted and armored, out of touch with our divine vulnerability and we are turned away from the door to our connection with our Source of wellbeing, aliveness and growth. If we stay in this state it leads to stagnation, depression, illness, and even death.
And because we manifest what we FEEL we unconsciously create negative circumstances in our lives that reflect the contracted energy we feel. Then there is a tendency to react to THOSE circumstances, causing more contraction, which means more negative circumstances get created… you get the picture, and it’s not a pretty one.
“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful.”
So, how to break this cycle? An attitude of gratitude – making the conscious choice to turn toward positive appreciation. It opens up the door again so that we can reconnect with our aliveness, our Source of Life Force.
Let’s try it right now. Think of something or someone that you are 100% grateful for, with absolutely no reservations. It might be your child, or mate, or vanilla ice cream.
Just keep thinking about this thing or person and turn your attention inward and notice any change in sensations or feelings. Can you feel an opening, an expansion? Do you feel lighter? Do you feel an innocent, even child-like joy? Those are the natural results of an attitude of gratitude.
If not, then that means you probably have conflicted feelings of grateful/not grateful about the thing or person you picked. It might be better to start with something simple, like ice cream. :-)
You’ll know when you’ve tapped into the power of gratitude. If you really focus in on how you feel, you’ll find degrees of freedom, love, expansion and awe. These are the signs that your doorway is open into Source, into the Essence of Yourself.
A really wonderful daily exercise is to make a list of anything and everything that you are grateful for. Some people do this as an Attitude of Gratitude Journal that they write in each day. This exercise has made a profound difference in my life.
When I do this exercise, I’ve noticed that at first I think of easy and fun things, like Haagen Dazs Vanilla Swiss Almond Ice Cream. :-) I continue writing things down, like Deva Premal’s music, birds singing, watching the baby bunnies in my back yard.
At this point I usually notice that my inner door into Source is opening wider and wider and I’m feeling lighter and optimistic. Then as the positive energy of the attitude of gratitude expands, I’ve noticed that I list things that I previously thought I was conflicted about.
However, instead of noticing the usual areas of conflict, new awareness opens up about aspects of that same subject that I’m grateful for! This can be tremendously healing and uplifting.
Let’s take this a step further.
Re-Design Your Perspective
Is there a person or a situation that is troublesome for you? Here are two examples of how to let the power of gratitude shift and heal a negative situation for you:
Betty Sue works in the office next to yours and annoys you for one reason or another. Here is a way to change and uplift the situation with an attitude of gratitude. Make a list of her characteristics that you like and appreciate.
To start, just find one thing that you like about her. It might be the color of her eyes, the sound of her laugh, or her conscientiousness on the job.
“If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.”
After you’ve listed one thing, reach for another. Keep going with this. Then read the list over a few times, feeling your appreciation open and your attitude of gratitude increase as you think of each aspect. In your mind you’ll notice a shift happening.
Instead of identifying Betty Sue as the person who annoys you, in your perspective she is shifting into Betty Sue with the beautiful blue eyes and the sparkling laugh, who always gets her reports to you on time (or whatever characteristics you appreciate).
The more you read over your list, the more this transformation will happen and the more real it will become. To you, this is who Betty Sue IS now.
And, since like attracts like you’ll find that as you interact with Betty Sue, she will exhibit less of the previously annoying traits and more of the ones that you love. You will actually draw that out of her by re-designing your perception of her with an attitude of gratitude.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity... It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
I promise you, your relationship with Betty Sue will change, though I can’t say how. Sometimes a relationship can be totally transformed by an attitude of gratitude.
Or something really different could happen: since you’re now holding the energy of having positive interactions with Betty Sue, if she doesn't resonate with that new vibration, your lives will both shift if some way that reflects what you both resonate with now.
Let’s say you have a desk job and you like about 30% of it and don’t appreciate the other 70%. Want to change that? Here’s how. Do the same thing as above. List as many things as you can about your job that you absolutely love: they have great coffee in the lounge, you get paid vacations, you like your desk, you love your view out the window, you like the feeling of accomplishment you get, etc.
As in the first example, read over the list until the feeling of these positive aspects of your job, becomes clear to you and you’re beginning to notice a new and broader perspective open up to you. You may want to do this daily, or even several times a day while you are AT your job.
As you recreate your relationship with your job and your perception of it with an attitude of gratitude, you’ll notice that your experience of your job will change. Either the aspects you love will be more pronounced and the others will change or fade away, or this job will end and you’ll draw to you one that DOES reflect this new positive vibration you now carry about your job.
No matter what happens, in both of these examples, you absolutely can’t lose and you have the potential of opening up a whole new positive world for yourself. You do this simply by noticing what you appreciate and are thankful for, then letting yourself indulge in the resulting positive feelings.
“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”
You’ll notice that if you “do” gratitude for the express purpose of trying to get something, it will actually work in the opposite way and your awareness of Source gets clouded. “Trying” creates contraction and keeps you in the second state I talked about earlier. Instead, let go of everything. Just let your awareness gently scan for what you are truly thankful for.
Once you find something that brings up feelings of appreciation, let the light and love move through you and do it’s work. You don’t have to force an attitude of gratitude upon yourself. All you have to do is look for places where you are truly grateful, then turn in that direction and let the thankful feelings grow naturally.
Indulge in the good feelings for as long as you can. By consciously courting this attitude of gratitude you receive the gift of connecting with the love and light of your own Being, and at the same time you are gifting all life everywhere. In this vibrational universe that we are all a part of, we are never separate. Your joy is our joy and our joy is yours!