As October arrives and the sheer beauty of our trees enchants us with a display of colour unlike those found anywhere else, Canadians prepare for the fall harvest celebrations. Vast quantities and varieties of foods given forth by Mother Nature, and patiently coaxed from the ground and the trees by gardeners and farmers, find their way onto the Thanksgiving table. Over that October long weekend, we wave our final goodbyes to the last vestiges of summer and take part in the tradition of eating until we are unable to move from our chairs.
It is in the spirit of Thanksgiving that we are invited to take note of the abundance in our lives, and to see the many blessings that extend far beyond material possession; to understand that thankfulness is our first heart-felt response to life. The late Wayne Dyer suggested that the first two words we say upon awakening each morning be: ‘Thank You’.
Gratitude is a high octave spiritual emotion that graciously combines with other highly charged spiritual energies such as compassion, unconditional love, and acceptance – attitudes that elevate us to feel, with open hearts, the joy and awe for all we have in our lives.
Gratitude is a learned experience and it needs to be cultivated. It moves us to a place where we feel whole, fulfilled, and complete. From this place, we can respond to life with a sense of value and gratefulness. We are happy to be alive. We trust our own self and the Universe, feeling secure in the knowledge that we are being taken care of, that everything we need is being supplied for us.
When we do not practice true gratitude, we can often feel hard done by, that we’ve been given a ‘bum deal’ in life, and that somehow we are ‘less than’ or deficient. In other words, we feel hopeless and helpless, and we can experience something called ‘victim consciousness’. Gratitude is not about thanking the universe once we get what we want. It begins now, regardless of how much we “have” or “don’t have” in our lives. Alan Cohen says that, “The more we are thankful for, the more we will find to be thankful for.”
Gratitude begets gratitude.
A Reason for Everything
Interestingly, we cannot be grateful and miserable at the same time. It is impossible to experience worry, negativity, fear, and anxiety when we embrace gratitude in its truest sense. Gratitude and trust go hand in hand. For us to be grateful for everything in our lives, we need to trust the universe in all its mystery, believing that there are higher reasons for the way things are. Behind everything is a higher purpose, although it is most often unbeknownst to us in the moment.
Gratitude is an energy, a miraculous force that attracts ‘more’ back into our lives. As with all things, wherever it is that we direct our energy – through thoughts, prayers, fear, or worry, whether consciously or unconsciously – the energy we put out is exactly what we will get back. When we enter a state of gratitude, we open our spiritual channels that allow more of the same to flow in. When we give thanks, we raise our spiritual frequency to a higher level. This magnetic energy that we create then attracts more of the same to our life at a higher vibrational level.
We need to do more than just express our thanks for all we have however; we also need to give back. Giving and receiving are part of the same circle, which runs in circuits. While we may be blessed with a powerful inflow of this magnetic energy, we also need to complete the circle by creating an equally strong outflow. This is the basis for all co-creation. Energy ‘in’ is equal to energy ‘out’. Where much is given, much is expected. Recall the joy you experience when you buy a gift for a friend, a gift for which you searched high and low; or the warm feeling you get when you’ve helped someone – expecting nothing in return but simply because it was the right thing to do.
Another good example of ‘what goes around comes around’ is courtesy (or lack thereof) between drivers on the road. When we choose to give a fellow driver a break by letting them get in front of us or allowing them time to find their way, it will come back to us time and again – in reduced stress and feeling better about ourselves, just for being kind on the road. If we play the ‘road rage’ game, that is what we will keep experiencing when we drive. The survivalist mentality creates more stress in our lives as we aggressively fight our way to be first in line and ahead of the ‘other’. (This is the same instinctual drive we see in animals in the wild; when food is discovered, it is the fastest and the most aggressive who will survive.)
However, when we relax and, rather than react to aggression, we just allow the other person to play out their aggression, we can arrive at a place of calm, happy with the knowledge that there is still plenty of whatever it is we need – be it food, time, etc.
Saying ‘Thank You’
It has been said by many, and many times over, that the most important prayer in the world contains just two words: “Thank you”. The Universe, bountiful and abundant, responds to us by giving us what we believe we deserve. If we hold our focus on what we do not have, that is what we will manifest. If we give thanks for what we do have, we often receive more. A simple Cosmic Law encapsulates this theory in a nutshell: “What you adore becomes more.” Other ways of expressing this include: “Where we focus our energy is what we will manifest in our lives”; and “Whatever we focus on expands.”
When life is difficult and challenging for us, it is hard to be grateful. We are not meant to see the higher purpose of challenging events in the moment that they are occurring. The higher purpose can often take months, or years – if ever – to make itself known to us. A gem of wisdom from Daniel Periata, a teacher of the Louise Hay philosophy, states: “When you are having hard times, say: I know that this has come to bless me, and I am willing to see the gift in this experience. May the lessons be revealed to me, and may I become stronger and clearer.”
When dealing with difficult people, ask: How can this individual put me more in touch with my spiritual nature? Later, hindsight may reveal how this ‘difficult’ person allowed you to grow in a spiritual way. For example, the so-called “dysfunctional family” we may have come from can help us grow in spiritual strength when we approach our family challenges from a positive and spiritual perspective.
Here are some simple ways to welcome gratitude into your life:
1) When you awaken, set the tone for the day by aligning yourself to your spiritual nature, and by deciding to embrace whatever comes your way that day.
2) Start your day with gratitude and end your day with gratitude.
3) Louise Hay suggests that we rejoice when we see the shadow side of our selves in another. Thank the universe for showing you this so that you can heal it and move on.
4) Give back. Practising random acts of kindness has been proven to increase life expectancy. People who do volunteer work, compared to those who do not, have fewer episodes of depression, better blood pressure, improved cardio health, and a stronger sense of self-esteem.
5) Acknowledge the people in your life – those you are fond of and those you dislike. They are the same; they are your teachers.
6) Be the first to forgive. Take the initiative.
7) Susan Jeffers suggests writing a gratitude letter stating 50 things you’re grateful for today. For example: my car started; I had my favourite coffee; there’s food on my table; my pet is healthy, etc.
8) Embrace the concept of ‘The glass is half-full, not half-empty.’ Operate your life from that half-full place.
9) Before sleep at night, find five things to be grateful for, and give thanks for the day you have had.
10) Tell your pets how grateful you are for the joy and unconditional love they bring into your life.
Let’s remember to be thankful for all things, big and small, in our lives. It’s easy to be grateful when we feel good and the world seems to be revolving just as we expect it to. It is not so easy when our expectations are not being fulfilled and our vision of how we believe our life should be is not actualizing.
Gratitude is always a two-way street, a magnet with two sides that reflect both giving and receiving. This Thanksgiving, may both sides flow freely for you in your life.