If you want to help our world, a good place to start is to appreciate what Life has given you. Gratitude for the gifts of life is a powerful way of sustaining Life.
When we practice gratitude, we foster our wellbeing, because gratitude is an energy that sources health and happiness. It puts us in sync with the source of life within us, and in harmony with the life around us.
Unlike outer environmental and economic resources, the inner resource of gratitude is not limited by our age, location, financial condition, or any circumstance. Every person has, potentially, an abundant supply.
Gratitude is necessary for our “inner sustainability,” by which we mean an internal environment that is resilient and peaceful, flexible and compassionate. A person with inner sustainability is immune to external “stressors,” and has the capacity to self-generate inner energies that are vital, expansive, and supportive of life in oneself and others.
Some internal energies bring healing, accomplishment, happiness, and compassion. Other energies—fear, panic, worry, resentment, self-pity—deplete our inner environment and make us sluggish and sick. Because we are connected to the whole, our individual energy state either enhances or drains the world around us.
As my beloved teacher, Dr. David R. Hawkins, said, “We change the world not by what we say or do, but as a consequence of what we have become.” This “becoming” is what we are on the inside! Our inner world affects the world at large.
Gratitude can be generated anywhere at any time. It’s free. There’s no training you have to attend, or special equipment you have to purchase! And significant progress can be made with just a little bit of time. Even 5-10 minutes each day is significant.
The ego cultivates resentment, not gratitude. It looks back over our life, or our day, and thinks, “Oh! All the love and acknowledgement that I didn’t get!” It focuses on what we wanted from others that we didn’t get – acknowledgement, sex, approval, love – and we feel deprived.
In Gratitude meditation, we look back and acknowledge that we, in fact, have been the recipients of much love and caring. Or else we wouldn’t even be here to read this blog! It takes attention from others and generosity from Mother Earth for us to survive even for a single day. The fact that we are living is in itself proof that we have been loved and supported. Nothing survives without energy, attention, or caringness from somewhere.
It takes just a few minutes to remember: As infants, we were helpless. We received shelter, water, food, gravity, air, and encouragement. Perhaps we didn’t receive all of the love that we had hoped for. Unconditional love is the ideal, yet few of us get it from our parents. However, what we needed to survive was there, or else we wouldn’t be alive today. There were seen and unseen people and forces of life that gave us breath, belonging, meaningfulness, encouragement, protection, and guidance. There were all those who went before us, who looked out for us, who loved us, and who received our love.
Here’s our Gratitude Meditation Video (5 min), giving you an experience of it.
Fran Grace, Ph.D., is the founder of Inner Pathway (501c3) and author of The Power of Love.