The Power of Gratitude
Gratitude is not a thought—it’s a behavior. Thoughts don’t reach the heart, but feelings and emotions triggered by gratitude go straight to our heart’s center. The science is certain, and you can check that out by reading about HeartMath®. Or you can rely on your body feeding back to you what your emotions are telling it. Emotions are “stirred” in the body by memory, anticipation or in-the-moment experiences of love, fear, anger or any other feeling. You know it’s not a thought because the whole body becomes wrapped up in the feeling. A thought can arouse the feelings, but we “feel” emotions in every system of the body. Fear arouses fight or flight symptoms, including the physical signs such as shaking, sweating, and shortness of breath. Love arouses a completely different set of feelings, such as warmth, a sense of connection, reaching out, even joy. Your heart responds to each of these in multiple ways, but we recognize them immediately and name them “fear” or “love” or “gratitude.” Much of this is unconscious, prompted by memory stored in our bodies. What is possible and powerful is that we can make the choice, consciously, to choose love or fear. How do those who live in gratitude rather than lack make the choice? It’s easier than you think, and it’s not personality based. (Think the Grinch or Ebenezer Scrooge.)
Daily, we can choose to begin with a conscious effort to be aware of our emotional state. If we wake up and immediately go to anxiousness over our day, we need to notice that state in our bodies and ask “What does this feel like?” Scan your body and you’ll find multiple physical places where you recognize anxious. Everything from your breathing to the tightness in your shoulders will identify the emotion. Next make a conscious choice to choose gratitude. It’s easier than you think.
• Close your eyes and breathe deeply, being aware of how your breath travels through your body.
• Now imagine a time that you felt blessed, loved, gentled, or even treasured. Hold this vision in your imagination and your heart.
• Ask your heart to feel gratitude for this memory. Breathe that sense of gratitude in slowly and deeply, experiencing the memory even more vividly.
• Now ask yourself: “What would love do?” Here you are asking your body/heart to feel love for itself, and this person who is you. Breathe in the love.
• Focus on the feeling of gratitude for what your body/heart was just able to do by going from a negative emotion like anxiousness to finding something to be grateful for. You are the one in control of your emotions, and that is something to be truly grateful for.
Now that you have this tool, try using it daily before arising, during the day and before going to sleep. Make it a habit to be able to call up gratitude when you want to any time day or night. You don’t need a mechanism or something to ding and remind you. Your body is a fine-tuned instrument and this will become a habit in no time. Remember that you are as worthy of feeling love and gratitude as anyone on the planet, but you will become more of who you are when you live in the field of gratitude. The emotional and physical benefits are beyond anything you could have imagined, and they grow as you practice. Gratitude for your own ability to love and be grateful will change your life as you learn to appreciate and love yourself and the abilities contained inside you. This is your gift to you. Happy Holidays everyone.
The Power of Gratitude