Updated: May 1
Continuing on the topic of Authenticity, some qualities of our Authentic Self are: Love, Gratitude, Joy, Appreciation, Acceptance, Forgiveness, Compassion, Honoring, Presence, Bliss, Openness and Wonder. Though external things can help us access these qualities, they are not dependent on externals. When you connect to your Authentic Self, such as in meditation or other activities in which you are fully present, these qualities or feelings may arise spontaneously. It works in reverse as well: whenever you access or generate these qualities, you touch into your True Nature, your Authentic Self. Today we’ll focus on Gratitude.
One way of accessing the state of gratitude is to think of and acknowledge things in your life that you are thankful for. Even in the most difficult situations, if we can look for something to be grateful for in it, we can transform our experience. Many years ago, one of my friends was having trouble in her marriage and went to a counselor for help. The counselor suggested that every day my friend think of 3 things about her spouse to be grateful for. This was not an easy task at first, but my friend consistently looked for something to be thankful for, especially in moments when she found herself frustrated or upset with him. This practice transformed not only my friend’s state of mind and level of happiness, but also transformed their marriage.
The true value of a gratitude practice lies in the INTERNAL STATE cultivated in doing it- the itemized list of things to be grateful for is simply a doorway into the internal state. As we more frequently live from our Authentic Self, we recognize that the feeling of gratitude is not dependent on external things going our way, but rather is something that we generate from within, regardless of what’s happening outside us. As a bonus, when we focus on generating our desired internal state, the externals often shift to match that, but our happiness is no longer dependent on this happening.
What matters most in any situation is the state of our own consciousness. This is the only thing within our control, and is also what we ourselves contribute to any situation we find ourselves in. It is our state of consciousness- our relationship to experience, not the experiences themselves- that determines our level of happiness and the quality of our lives. Read again the list of qualities of the Authentic Self from the first paragraph, and really FEEL each of them; notice that you can access these feeling states independent of any external cause.
“Gratitude always creates more to be grateful for.” ~Louise Hay
Dr. Tanmeet Sethi, doctor of Integrative Medicine, gave a wonderful TED talk: “Two words that can change your life.” The two words are THANK YOU. Dr. Sethi shares what she calls “the world’s simplest medicine.” You can watch this short 16 min talk here:
Self-Care Suggestion: Practice accessing the state of Gratitude daily. You could journal about things in your life you’re thankful for, or simply pause for a few moments at regular intervals throughout the day to generate the feeling of gratitude. There doesn’t need to be any specific thing you feel grateful for; what’s important is the feeling state. You might do this at mealtimes, or while doing everyday mundane tasks such as brushing your teeth or taking out the trash- this can create built-in reminders to practice gratitude and doesn’t require making extra time in your schedule or adding one more thing to your “to do” list. For instance, while washing dishes I could think "I am thankful to have food to eat and clean water to wash these dishes," or "I am thankful for these dishes which remind me of my Grandmother who I loved."
May we all recognize and receive the many blessings we have to be grateful for. I am thankful for each one of you.