What is Gratitude Really All About?

 

Kitten
Photo Taken by My Favorite Sister

When looking for love, it’s useful to know the power of gratitude. If it sounds as though I’m implying one can ramp up the love factor in his life by being thankful for what little he has, that is exactly what I mean.

Those moments when you felt warm and cuddly inside, when you couldn’t resist falling asleep before bedtime, are the times you connected to your peace of mind and the universal consciousness of love. You also disconnected from your self-destructive nature.

Modern gurus encourage us to be thankful as a means for overcoming our inner demons but such a vague objective can leave us with a sense of void until we understand the magnetic impact appreciation invokes. Take for instance, inspirational writer, Dale Carnegie’s suggestion to “… be grateful for what you have to be thankful for instead of complaining about the little things that annoy you.”

I invite you to imagine with me, my childhood evenings when a storm unexpectedly disconnected our electricity. Initially, surprise sets in. All the neighbors congregate outside to visit while hoping the lights will be restored quickly, but when they don’t, we return to our homes to strategize what how best to handle the situation. What is a person to do at eight o’clock at night in the freezing, pitch dark? Go to sleep, perhaps. Or then again, get creative.

My parents took us to the store for supplies and an opportunity to access a facility with a generator pumping heat into our lives. Once we realized the world wasn’t going to end, seeing how other folks would be out and about exploring the new landscape of broken tree branches covered in icicles among absolute darkness. The lack of comfort created an adventure and the opportunity to enjoy ourselves, and whether we intended to or not, we began to be thankful for humanity.

My enthusiasm piqued as we picked out activities to do without electricity. My mom taught me how to crochet beside the fireplace during a winter storm. Crossword puzzles provided friendly family challenges. Slightly burnt pan-roasted popcorn, chocolate and marshmallows warmed on the tips of coat hangers, and a foot pedal sewing machine gave the icy, dark nights a loving touch. My parents allowed us kids the opportunity to savor favorite imperishable foods typically avoided, all under the premise of cozying up with family and pets for intellectually stimulating tasks.

By complaining less, we open our hearts and thoughts to receiving blessings. Dwelling on the negative aspects of your surroundings is in invitation for your mind to explore additional unhappy experiences. I notice this phenomena oftentimes when I believe I’ve come up with an original idea, something like naming my children. I spent months searching every map, history book, and movie credit with a goal to find a meaningful and unique name for the special souls who found their way into my home. I referenced how common my choice names were, and in which eras and locations they were used, ensuring no one on the planet had the same names. Low and behold, as soon as the names became official, I noticed dozens of people who use them.

Such a happening where at first you think you alone came across rare information or ideas only to see them repeatedly thereafter, is known as the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. This theory relies on the brain’s ability to recognize patterns as a means to digest information and learn. Whether the patterning of being aware of specific words and events in life is due to coincidence or our intuition, the sensation leaves us with an overwhelming satisfaction and awe due to our ability to attract what interests and appeals to us for our current quest for knowledge.

The authors and editors of the Holy Bible considered gratitude to have such essential power for our spiritual growth, they provided explanations more than once in both the Old and New Testaments. “Give thanks in all circumstances’ for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18. “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1.

Gratitude ties into love. When you crave love, the fastest way to gain that golden warmth in your chest is through your state of mind. Not to say you need to change in order to be a better person who deserves to receive love, and never to suggest difficult paths force you to elude love. It’s a matter of signaling the world to give you the things you emphasize, the situations that mirror what you think about most. Paraphrasing Gautama Buddha, “Disillusioned men never appreciate kindness shown them, but wise men are grateful. Wise men express their appreciation and gratitude by returning kindness, not only to their benefactor, but to the world at large.”

Thankfulness creates a shift in your way of thinking. The change of your thought patterns drives you toward the situations in life you want to experience. You draw what you desire closer to you by focusing on the feelings that you would enjoy if you already gained what you want. Dale Carnegie pushed for us all to attain our goals, which we devise in our continuing efforts to gain more peace, in saying:

“Remember, happiness doesn’t depend upon who you are or what you have; it depends solely upon what you think. So, start each day by thinking of all the things you have to be thankful for. Your future will depend very largely on the thoughts you think today. So, think of thoughts of hope and confidence and love and success.”

The invocation for gratitude isn’t a rule imposed on us because breaking rules is irresistible for so many. The suggestion takes into account the messages we send the universal consciousness, because wise men are aware no request goes unanswered. No matter how outlandish your wishes seem, the asking by you occurs in those moments you either complain or appreciate.

The angels and protective guide are merely messages to the Divine Source where creation begins. They don’t translate the hidden meanings behind your words of aggravation. Their job is to sing praise on your behalf no matter what attitude or tone you transmit. You, me, each of us, possesses the power to relay our wishes, which are always fulfilled. Therefore, we each are in control. These gifts of free will are worthy of our gratitude in every moment of our experience.

The Tune of Deserving Love

One Foot Island, Tahiti

During our millennial enlightenment, the trend for how to love pressures us to disconnect from responsibility. We are enticed into the false-beauty of delving into the darkest corners of our personal feelings.

The shift from idealized happiness to painstaking denial is clear from the television guide list. When I tune into network channels for a little down time from cancerous family members, repairing a hurricane damaged home, proving to giant corporations they’ve been double charging my bill for years, and managing fraud, my poor little brain gets blindsided. Explosive emotions dominate the themes. Tag lines for the shows includes, “dysfunctional family” and “masterful in eliciting a range of feelings” and “dark, nuanced.” If I wanted to spend my free time listening to people argue, I’d just assume turn off the tube and dedicate more time with loved ones. The trend on and offscreen is to demand the right to deserve love.

The fact is, what it takes to receive loved hasn’t changed, ever. No criteria exists for earning the right to love. Business leader, Malcolm S. Forbes, put the low emotional returns of living a high drama life into perspective, saying, “Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.”

Qualifying how difficult your life is to receive a greater amount than the next guy generates a competition, but love is not distributed in limited rations. The behavior you tune into provides a precedent of how you process the environment. Basically, the more time you spend in a situation, pleasant or dysfunctional, the more you get used to the stimuli.

Our brains adjust to processing the heightened emotions by disconnecting certain awareness sensors. Once those signals of threat and pain are tuned out, we accept the bad as being normal. The good news is we can adapt to anything, however, adapting to the barrage of resentment fractures our channels for receiving love.

The scenario, “birds of a feather flock together,” applies to the way we adjust our actions to mimic the behavior of those we spend time with. Exposing yourself to high drama, whether televised or in person, is counterproductive to receiving love.

Using anger as proof you deserve love removes you from what you crave. The modern coping skill of keeping a tally of every monstrosity you’ve suffered implies you consider your experience to be more significant, and you don’t care about others. Once undervalued and unappreciated, those around you disconnect from your message, since their brain adjusts by tuning out the bad feelings. They won’t identify love with a ranting person. I’ve learned to be careful in mentioning my hardships, because just as soon as I feel sorry for myself, the person next to me shares a greater hardship.

The more we use drama in despising the sensation of lacking love, the greater we distances herself from feeling loved. “Your task is not to seek for Love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it,” stated Rumi.

You only need to show up and be present to acquire genuine love. No one else has to participate in your receiving love. There is nothing for you to qualify. Skip rallying together an audience to support your cause to prove your highest ranking in getting the most love. “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us,” provides Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Even if you believe you have a resilience to harsh words, putting them out there has the same effect of stabbing yourself with a knife. Hearing the insulting references and self loathing is harmful to your emotional self.

Thinking demeaning thoughts about yourself places you in the role of playing the victim, and the lower you place your emotional self, the farther you are from accepting love. While in law school, I would tell myself repeatedly that I was going to flunk out of school as a motivational tactic. After graduating, I acquired a position at a desirable workplace. A fellow graduate ran into me at the courthouse, and was agitated that all those years I whined about barely making it when I was capable of landing such a prestigious position. I felt bad, and a bit ashamed, because I didn’t realize my self motivation technique offended others. I made others feel less deserving by spreading my low energy, when I stored a full reserve of quality mentality for my personal thoughts.

Wake up each day glad to be you. Don’t shy away from embracing the electrifying charge of unfortunate events in your past. The challenges were moments to broaden your perception of universal love. The pain you felt was personal to you, which gave you the opportunity to make love in your life a personal experience. Instead of loathing your challenges, recognize them as manifestations of your insightful depth. Knowledge is a precious commodity and transforming difficulties into fables for you to share with others on similar paths allows your purpose on this planet to soar.

Your trials and tribulations, whether you felt they were unfair or viable punishments, make you an expert in resolving that subject. Give yourself the special treatment you know in your heart you deserve. According to Gautama Buddha, “You can search the world over and you will find no one who is more deserving of your kindness and well wishing than you yourself.”

If you are unconvinced your life isn’t the horrifying torture you perceive, participate more in the world and explore your neighbor’s path. Protect yourself from eroding your love shield by evaluating the behaviors you tune into, both on and off the big screen. Now is a time for opening your awareness.

Pray for Us

Elvis Presley's Graceland
Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee

Regardless of where you stand on today’s issues, there are times when a political leader gives a statement or supports an order that contradicts your views. The political structure allows opposing parties to create opportunities for themselves by escalating the public’s differing opinions. This gives them leverage to suppress the civilians’ sense of power.

Without belief in our abilities, we become divided. Without unity, a nation lacks strength.

Each of us can make a difference in the government. According to the philosopher and founder of Taoism, Lao Tzu, “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say, ‘We did it ourselves.’” It is through the people actively participating that leaders are able to serve.

Our duty as civilians is to offer support and prayers for authority figures of every level and position. “Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is,” stated Mahatma Gandhi. Prayer is action.

Within the Holy Bible, 1 Timothy 2:1-3 provides for man to give supplications, which embrace humility on behalf of another. We are to seek intercessions through angels and saints to exalt our pleas for governmental leaders to receive guidance. Saint Thomas More is the patron of lawyers, civil servants, and politicians.

Most importantly, we are to express gratitude for the benefits within our nation. Through prayers and thanks, the entire country acquires peace, goodness and honest dealings within its boundaries as well as with other countries. 1 Timothy clarifies that only God has authority over men, therefore it is proper to pray for political leaders to act with godliness and honesty. Leaders who make choices on behalf of the Divine promote the salvation of all mankind and support all men in their quest for knowledge of the Truth.

Faith grants strength. Trust in a Divine plan for placing those who are in office elevates our spiritual power. Our support influences their actions and grants them insights of Holiness.

Archbishop John Carroll, founder of Georgetown University, suggests first praying for God to have mercy on all nations, regardless of their views or actions, and then for the leaders to gain “heavenly knowledge, sincere zeal, and sanctity of life.” He includes all civil servants who are appointed and elected to have powerful protection in performing their duties “with honesty and ability.”

We pray Thee O God of might, wisdom, and justice! Through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with Thy Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the President of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to Thy people over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality. Let the light of Thy divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty.

 Archbishop John Carroll

The English Prayer Book issues thanksgiving and blessings for the leaders of the United Kingdom by humbly acknowledging God’s mighty authority over man, praying for spiritual enlightenment of leaders, and then asking for eternal grace. Blessings are requested in saying, “look favourably on our sovereign lady, Queen Elizabeth. Fill her with your Holy Spirit so that she may love your law and walk in your way. Give her health and strength; and grant that after this life she may enjoy everlasting happiness in your eternal kingdom.”

Rule the heart of your servant Elizabeth, our Queen, so that she, knowing whose minister she is, may above all things seek your honour and glory. And grant that we and all her subjects may faithfully serve, honour and obey her according to your word and ordinance.

Book of Common Prayer

Even a moment of silence dedicated to the President, Congressmen, Senators and Governors having spiritual counsel boosts their capacity for benevolent judgment. As Mahatma Gandhi explained, “It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”

Prayers and support for government is a longstanding tradition. Unrest within nations tends to arise during periods of social transformation. It is unnecessary to evaluate and determine what decisions our political leaders need to make for us to enjoy safe, prosperous lives. Merely offering your request for them to be surrounded by Holy advisors and to open their hearts to Divine Love creates miracles. “Our prayers should be for blessings in general, for God knows best what is good for us,” stated Socrates.