A New Way to Cultivate Gratitude
This week is the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. Thanksgiving is our favorite holiday because it celebrates an attitude of gratitude—one of the most important practices to cultivate as a Creator.
During the global pandemic, many people reported that accessing gratitude helped them persevere during really difficult times. In a way, so many people referred to “being grateful” that it almost became a cliché and possibly lost some of its magic.
Making a list of what you are grateful for is an awesome practice when it comes from both your head and your heart. Simply making a gratitude list can, at times, be more of an intellectual exercise and may leave out your heart and emotions.
Here’s a new approach to cultivating gratitude that can nurture an emotional experience:
Pause for a moment and take a few deep breaths. Now create your gratitude list of the people, things, and circumstances for which you are grateful. Fully appreciate their presence in your life.
This next step may be the new approach to cultivate gratitude and feel a little strange.
Imagine that all you just put on your gratitude list has suddenly disappeared. Picture yourself without the people and situations for which you gave thanks just a moment earlier. Really sit with your new experience for several minutes and feel the emotional loss. Now write a few sentences or words of how your life would look and feel without what you put on your gratitude list.
For some, this new approach to gratitude may help you experience both your grateful thoughts and evoke grateful emotions as you contemplate the gifts in your life and what it would be like without them.
More than a transactional exercise of merely making a list, being in the state of gratitude is a full body experience that includes both the intellect and your emotional heart. Gratitude is often called a “relationship emotion” because it exists in relationship to others, yourself, or what you are appreciating. It is a complex emotion that doesn’t stand alone because it seeds additional positive emotions.
When in the state of gratitude, you are cultivating more positive relationships with yourself, and life in general, while nourishing your Creator essence. By intentionally noticing and recording what you are grateful for, you must purposefully look for what has heart and meaning for you. In the process of looking, you discover the little things that make up your life from moment-to-moment.
These grateful moments become like a magnifying glass that enlarges your focus and connects you to lighter feelings, which arise when you focus on what you appreciate. By combining both your intellect and your heart, you are literally teaching your neurological system what you value, and in the process, you counter-balance your brain’s tendency to worry about problems.
Gratitude is a generative act of choice that follows what you appreciate. If you place yourself in a state of gratitude, no matter what your circumstances are, you are more likely to see life as a gift.