How to Develop the Healing Power of Gratitude.
Love and gratitude are the most powerful healers on the planet. Gratitude is love in operation, so to speak. But many people when they try to practice gratitude find it difficult.
Gratitude is difficult because it develops over time. Most people are at the basic level of gratitude, and therefore cannot imagine it being an easy and natural way of life.
Just knowing that gratitude will develop and blossom eventually into something marvellous can be reassuring. It will get easier to practice gratitude. But knowing what stage you are at helps you understand what is ahead too.
I will describe four stages of the development of gratitude. They aren’t distinct phases, just points of reference along the way. Can you tell where you are on the scale of gratitude?
The four stages in developing gratitude are:
1. grudging gratitude
2. forced gratitude
3. balanced gratitude and
4. inspired gratitude.
Grudging gratitude is casual attention on things that are ok, or not significant problems in your life. It has little power to heal, and is centred around satisfaction of desires and appetites. The real power of grudging gratitude is in re-sensitizing you to the good aspects of every day life. For example, if you see a certain car you think is cool and remembering to grudgingly give thanks for having seen something you would like, then you will be now sensitised to seeing that kind of car more often, and more likely to enjoy your day as a result. Most grudging gratitude happens at the level of daily attention.
Forced gratitude is what you write a gratitude list because you want to feel grateful even though you don’t. You write the list, and some small degree of balance is evoked throughout your day, which feels pleasant or at least feels less unpleasant. It mostly deals with the senses and sensory ideas. It evokes excitement and emotional highs that don’t last, but they feel okay. Forced gratitude is more powerful than grudging gratitude, usually because it is written down or shared with a friend. It has the power to inspire. It takes effort, but the effort is worth it!
Balanced gratitude is when you see clearly with your mind how problems and opportunities both serve you. You ask and answer questions to yourself. You consciously seek the perfection not by positive thinking mood-making of yourself, but by looking at how an event serves and harms you, by seeing both sides at once.
When you see both sides of a thing, it is a relief from resentment and indulgent infatuation. You are free to see clearly. It feels wonderful, but in fact it is merely relief from the constant pressure of emotionalised perception. Balanced gratitude is how it feels to live in accord with reason and education. Balanced gratitude is normally done through a formal written process, and only gradually internalised with education, skill, and life experience, as well as formal repetition. Balanced gratitude is connect with our ability to be reasonable. This balanced gratitude has the power to bring peace and satisfaction, and is a powerful healing resource for caring professionals like doctors and nurses, but also a potent inner resource for anyone who wants to cope with life more effectively.
Inspired gratitude is itself a gift and a revelation. It discloses itself when conditions are right. If you are inspired you can say thankyou to problems as they arise; you can meet opportunities with equanimity and balance; you can swim upstream to the source.
The prerequisite for inspired gratitude is that the mind is balanced, because in inspired gratitude the heart is wide open and inspirational guidance streams through consciousness.
If this sounds like a bit of hard work, then consider how hard it is trying to force yourself to appreciate things with a closed heart and confused mind! It is so much less effort to simply balance your perceptions of a situation using your reason and education, and if you do that enough, inspiration is inevitable.
Gratitude, love, inspiration, compassion, reason and that gracious inner balance the world only knows under the word “charisma” are idle potentials unless shared. As the proverb says, a friend sharpens another friend like iron against iron. Likewise your friends can blunt you. In grudging and forced gratitude, exposure to the negativity of others must bring you down; in balanced gratitude, you get free of the negative of others.
How does balanced gratitude deal with negativity?
The hidden blessing of negative, irrational and limited people and experiences is that you can own their faults – somewhere, sometime in your own experience you have behaved the way you see negative people behaving. And when you can own it, you are paradoxically free of it. The saying goes, If you can spot it, you’ve got it.
Owning others’ negative qualities as your own returns you to gratitude and allows you to challenge those negative people to see the hidden blessing inherent in their difficulties. And because you have identified with them and “been there and done that”, they have no basis to reject your words because you are simply sharing your experience.
Real power inspires and heals through balanced gratitude. The kind of power that brings tears of compassion to your eyes can melt even the hardest heart and open even the most rigid mind to the balanced truth that we are all on the same journey to the wholeness and peace of gratitude, our true condition.