There truly is something magical about gratitude practice. Years ago I survived a particularly bleak period in grad school just by writing down one positive thing I experienced every day for 30 days. Some days I really had to reach for that thing. I am most humbled by the entry noting that somebody smiled at me. Even then I felt a failure for not being able to come up with something more spectacular. How silly the ego can be. I didn’t place any stock in anything remotely woo back then, but I was blown away by how my perspective was able to shift by month’s end, how that weight was lifted.
As I have evolved, so has my gratitude practice. I dropped it for quite awhile because it stopped making sense to me to “count my blessings” in such a way where I was still judging what was “good” and “bad” in my life, weighing one pile against the other to see if I was winning at life.
Yet in the last couple of years I found myself practicing gratitude in a radically different way, by connecting directly to the frequency of gratitude without needing to work from an external marker. Sometimes it happens in meditation, sometimes it happens through the course of my day, but it is often spontaneous. One particularly peak experience happened after we moved from NYC. We sat down to a meal in our house, surrounded by piles of boxes, and my heart just flung its doors wide open and I was flooded with a sense of well-being. It took my breath away and I had to put down my fork to breathe it in.
When I connect to the vibratory field of gratitude, I connect to the absolute joy of being alive, of being gifted this life, which is no more and no less extraordinary than any other life, but is utterly unique, utterly mine, and dear for that very reason. There is no accounting, no judging, simply the sacred embrace of its totality. I know I’ve connected to gratitude when my heart feels so full that it brings tears to my eyes.
Gratitude is. Just as abundance is. Just as love is. Etc. These are fields of energy that are unconditionally available to all human beings. We do not need to depend on our circumstances to access these frequencies. Through our Brilliant System, we ask, we open, we receive. The more you practice, the easier it gets because you remember the frequency and the path to get there, just as you know how to speed-dial a friend.
It took me a really long time to learn that suffering is a choice. Oh, how I pointed to all the victims I saw in the world as evidence that this cliche was a big, fat lie. But how we view others is a reflection of how we view ourselves (another topic for another time). Yet for those insisting that you need everything in Maslow’s hierarchy to be fulfilled, let me just point to the extreme case of Viktor Frankl, who not merely survived the Holocaust, but whose legacy lives on because he exemplified the unconditional ability to transcend horror.
The good news is that once you know this truth in your bones, once you know that you are a being of free will, and that your reactions to life are your choices—once you take full responsibility, that is, for everything in your life—you know that well-being is also a matter of choice. For that is the other side of the coin, but you can’t have one without the other.
If you find yourself protesting by pointing to the injustices of the world or otherwise dismissing these ideas as spiritual drivel, that’s okay. We don’t all share the same truths, and we learn in our own ways. But if you are curious about the idea of unconditional gratitude, here are some questions to play with. Take a breath, connect with your Brilliant System, and take these questions in. Let them float ever so gently in your fields, loosening whatever they need to loosen, even triggering whatever needs to be triggered—awakening, in other words, deep memory and knowing—and let them connect you with the field of gratitude:
What if literally everything in your life is a gift? What if these are the gifts given to you because on some level of your being, you chose them? What if, in your infinite wisdom, you chose your body? What if, in your infinite wisdom, you chose your parents? What if, in your infinite wisdom, you chose to be YOU out of all other beings in creation? What if, in your infinite capacity for love, you can look back on the path you’ve traveled and marvel at how perfectly everything has unfolded and continues to unfold? The perfection of your life is exquisite to behold.
What if you are an alchemist, working on transforming all the darkness into light? What if you were to mine the greatest challenge before you now, not merely for the “silver lining,” but the mother lode of gold? The choice, as always, is yours.
The choice, as always, is yours.