Focusing on Gratitude
Expressing gratitude creates happiness. It is an aspect of love. Being grateful brings more love and joy to your life.
This week use the first part of Exercise Six, from my book, At Your Heart’s Pace. Search out and write down what you are pleased and grateful about. Use your journal or download journal sheets from my site to do so.
Throughout your day, list of all people, things, and places for which you feel gratitude. Continue to add to your list when you become aware of another area or person in your life that brings out this feeling. Notice how you feel participating in this practice.
In part 2 of this practice you will be asked to deepen gratitude to include those situations and people in life for which it seems inapplicable. You are ultimately asked to notice where you hold resistance or blocks to the expression of gratitude.
The state of peace, no matter what your particular beliefs are, is usually sought in a spiritual life. Peace becomes a choice we learn to make over all other states of mind. We come to realize that to be in peace, we must willingly let go of that which is not. This puts painful, upsetting, events into a different context: opportunities. We can choose to release them in order to live our spiritual commitments.
Hello, it’s Ellen Sutherland, and here we are again, being spiritual.
This is the second part; we are responding to the quote about the difference between pursuing happiness and creating it.
One of the most wondrous ways of creating happiness within yourself is through gratitude. I thought I would take the opportunity of offering you one of the exercises in my book: At Your Heart’s Pace. It is a book of over 30 spiritual exercises and this is one of the practices in the Attitudinal section of it. I thought I would offer this to you and see how it works for you to spend some time with gratitude.
Like all aspects of love, gratitude sets up a feedback loop where giving and receiving are experienced as one event.
Exercise 6. The intention of this practice is discover where it is that you hold blocks to gratitude and to release them. To learn to express universal gratitude. This may or may not happen quickly, it could take a long time to go into universal gratitude, so don’t pressure yourself.
It is surprising how we can grow just by letting it germinate like you would a seed in the ground. You are not pushing it, you are giving it all the qualities it needs, you pick the right season (you don’t plant it in winter), you don’t bury it too deeply, and you give it enough water and light, then the seed can take care of itself. It is the same with any of our spiritual practices, they will take care of themselves if you apply them.
This practice: how can you realistically be grateful for an event that brings up pain? You do so by changing your assumptions. No matter what your particular spiritual beliefs are, peace is a fundamental aspect of them. Thus to maintain a state of peace, any feelings or thoughts that thwarts or stops peace must be surrendered.
This re-contextualizes painful events. It makes all painful events become opportunities to change your mind. It is from this context that you can willingly express gratitude for the situation. It is impossible to hold both war (pain), and peace (joy), at once. Oil and water.
You must choose one state, and that is the choice we have. We can choose peace or war. It is a very powerful choice. If we do not make the choice 19 out of 20 times, making the one powerful choice wipes out (the effects) of the other 19, because truth is more powerful than any mixed up understanding we have that keeps us in war.
Here is the practice. Set aside an area in your journal (you can download journal pages from my site) if you don’t have a journal. Set aside an area to make a list of every person, every event and thing in your life for which you feel gratitude.
This is a huge thing to do. It seems so simple. We often pick the real easy stuff at first, that we are grateful for our children, or our beloved, our parents or where we live, that we are in peace, our home, perhaps our career or what we do for a living, perhaps that we are not like the guy next door… we might do some comparison gratitude. We might be grateful that we have, or that we have had a strong body, it may be aging, but we appreciate how much time we have had with it. The list goes on and one and on… it is quite wonderful, you can just get a high from doing it.
Not too long ago I read an article from someone who said that he found gratitude to be rather trying, that he really had to push himself. If you can find just one or two things in a day to be grateful for, fine. If beyond that is pushing yourself? Don’t. Because then you are in a lie, and this is not about lying. This is about growing happiness inside of yourself. The creating of happiness within. You can’t be lying to yourself.
As you get more practiced at being grateful, what happens is that the mind starts looking (what you focus on increases) for things to be grateful for. It becomes habitual. Then you are home free, it is wonderful. Then you walk out of the door, and it doesn’t matter if it is raining, or cloudy, or snowing or 100 degrees… it doesn’t matter. You are just grateful. You just extend gratitude. It is quite lovely.
This is the first practice. I’m not going to go into the second, deeper practice (in this video).
Do play with that. I think that you are going to be very surprised. Sincere gratitude… you know, you can be grateful for your pots and pans… just really try it out. You will be happily surprised, and you will be creating happiness.
This week we will be playing with feeling energy (part two), so I look forward to you joining me next blog.
Peace to you.