“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.” – Henry David Thoreau
Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!
It’s that time of year when we, individually and collectively as a nation, give thanks and appreciation for all the blessings in our lives – for family, friends, shelter, employment or retirement, travel, balance, stability and so on. But what if we don’t feel grateful about anything? What if life has dealt us a hand of trouble, poverty, or illness? This time of year can be a mixed emotional bag for some of us. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could give thanks perpetually, as observed by Henry David Thoreau?
On my journey toward perpetual gratitude, I became acquainted with the Heartmath Institute. This organization is dedicated to helping people “bring their physical, mental and emotional systems into balanced alignment with their heart’s intuitive guidance. This unfolds the path for becoming heart-empowered individuals who choose the way of love, which they demonstrate through compassionate care for the well-being of themselves, others and Planet Earth.” They have several wonderful exercises on their website to coach the viewer into balanced alignment with their heart’s intuitive guidance.
In one of the many Heartmath Institute exercises, we are instructed that we can improve mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being by invoking and sustaining sincere appreciation. And further, they claim that the more fully and frequently we feel sincere appreciation, the “deeper the connection to our heart, where intuition and unlimited inspiration and possibilities reside.”
Can you imagine dropping into a deep, relaxed state of well-being and sincere appreciation at any time, in any circumstance? It is possible, and if you haven’t tried it before you might need a little practice to sustain the feeling more deeply, more frequently, for longer periods at a time.
“It is necessary, then, to cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” Wallace D. Wattles “The Science of Getting Rich,” pg. 36.
This excerpt from Wallace D. Wattles’ book hit me right between the eyes when I first read it. What does he mean, “…include all things in your gratitude?” What about all the pain and suffering in the world? What about all the tragedy? What about all the poverty and violence? Yes, even when we become aware of these things, we must hold on to gratitude, because these incidents and circumstances are all contributing to our own, personal spiritual journey. And as we grow, we contribute to a loving, coherent presence in the world.
The times when we cannot possibly feel grateful for anything are exactly the times when we need to practice heart coherence so that we can listen to our heart’s intuitive guidance about the loving thing we can do in the circumstance. In his chapter on Gratitude, Wattles explains that the Creative Power within us makes us into the image of that to which we give our attention. So we need to ask ourselves over and over again, “To what am I giving my attention?” Because that very question will answer the deeper question, “What am I becoming?” Ouch! If the attention from my thoughts were as big and readable as cartoon balloons, would I be happy or embarrassed by having other people read them?
There is an interesting spiritual law that deals with attention. The more gratefully we fix our minds on the Divine when good things come to us, the more good things we will receive, and the more rapidly they will come. The reason is simply that the mental attitude of gratitude draws the mind into closer awareness of the Source from which the blessing come. So if we want to become prosperous, we need to pull our attention away from what we don’t have, and firmly plant it on the prosperity we do have right now.
There was a time early in our marriage that Jim and I were living paycheck to paycheck, and trying to keep our heads above financial water, with the occasional debt-wave overtaking us. I felt so miserable and unhappy that the only, and I mean only, abundance I could find was copious amounts of cat fur all over the apartment. Pretty sad, right? But it was a start. Then I noticed the abundance of stars in the clear night sky. And the beautiful flowers in other people’s yards. My heart softened.
And bit by bit, I started feeling prosperous – and grateful. Sure, I didn’t have fancy this or that, but I started to deeply appreciate what I already had. And that led to appreciating the wealth of others without jealousy, malice or judgment. And I started to deeply appreciate the Source of the prosperity.
Needless to say, ideas started flowing because I wasn’t fixated on what I didn’t have, or the trouble I was in. I had stopped the Divine Idea flow by my fixed attention on what I didn’t have, which prevented me from realizing the ideas that eventually lead to a prosperous and grateful life. Just as the Heartmath Institute described, my deeper awareness of appreciation leads me to my heart, where intuition, unlimited inspiration and possibilities arise.
“Appreciation is the highest form of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts.” Alan Cohen
So this Thanksgiving season, I invite you to cultivate a deep appreciation for everything, no matter the appearance, the condition or the political affiliation. I invite you to contribute to a loving, coherent presence in the world by including all things in our gratitude. And I invite you to become heart-empowered individuals who choose the way of love.
I appreciate you!