Today’s post is a reprint of an article I wrote that was published in
Coaching Interactive in 2006.
Gratitude is an attitude of gratefulness or, as I love to play with it, great fullness. It derives from the Latin “gratus,” pleasing. Gratitude creates awareness for that which is pleasing us, even while we may be standing in the shadow of our unhappiness. It is receiving and luxuriating in the richness of the warm sunshine upon our shoulders, the breath-taking display of a starry night, and the lingering embrace with a loved one.
These joys are gratis (free of charge), from the Latin “gratia,” favor. They do not require great busyness, doings and struggle. We do not have to earn them. We need only stop, notice and allow ourselves to receive them. It’s a simple exchange of energy; like breathing out and breathing in. We give the world around us our exquisite attention and it gives us great fullness.
As we move toward that which delights, we begin to give to ourselves those experiences which bring us joy. We give them to ourselves and in so doing, we create a foundation of trust in ourselves.
I want to be clear about something here. Not all receiving is blissful. The willingness to be with the depth of our grief or remorse is also opening to great fullness. For the moment, I am writing of the abundance we can receive from the world around us.
The Universe offers us a feast, a banquet of richness, and we come to the table starving and saying, “Oh, no thanks; I couldn’t really,” as if we have to check some internal gauge of worthiness. Sometimes, our hunger is so great that the ensuing downward emotional spiral and intensity of our internal dialogue can cause us to resist great fullness. We lose our heart.
In conversation, a friend and I waded into the murky waters of self-sabotage. He said, “Decent hard-working people deserve a good life.” I asked him, “Who would you say does not deserve a good life?” There followed a predictable list that included criminals, riff-raff, cheaters, abusers and the like. It soon came to light that holding the belief that “decent hard-working people deserve a good life,” was self-sabotaging. He knew he was not a bad person, but he could never know for sure what was good enough or hard-working enough.
He then asked me, “Why do you think you deserve a good life?” and I responded,“Because I was born.” There followed a pregnant pause broken by hearty laughter and smiles all around. He exhaled. He began to experience his inherent worthiness; his great fullness.
It seems so much happens when we stop trying. Making an effort is antithetical to receiving. There is irony in our working to prove ourselves worthy of receiving abundance. When we think we have to earn, because we hold ourselves inherently unworthy, we create an even greater gap, an ever greater emptiness. While we are striving, we are closing ourselves off to receiving. We are holding our breath. It is allowing and receiving that fills us up and has us experience our natural worth. When we are full we spill over and giving is the natural outcome. The paradigm becomes “allow and receive” rather than “prove and earn.”
Consider this Buddhist Koan:
No thought for the hereafter
Is cherished by the wise.
For on this earth they truly live
Always in paradise.
Desire, from feeling lack, creates the polarity of abundance and scarcity; of paradise and hell. Without desire, the polarity disappears. Breathing in and breathing out is one breath. What is abundance but great fullness?
When we deflect an acknowledgment, we simultaneously project and create, within ourselves, a greater void of worth. When we truly receive, we simultaneously give and create, within ourselves, an experience of love and self worth. We deflect by metaphorically holding our breath, with armor around our 4th and 3rd chakras. Practice dropping out of your head into these centers when you are receiving. Bring healing to the very centers that have taken so many painful hits over the years.
There are many practices for focusing on gratitude. People find it helpful to create a gratitude book in which they record all for which they are grateful. Others begin and end each day with simple prayers or meditations upon that for which they are thankful.
Here is a practice I created for receiving and experiencing great fullness, which I regularly assign to clients with wonderful results.
Take a walk.. You do not need a destination and you can do it anywhere. As you amble along, notice everything you are sensing. Say to yourself “I get to receive _____________” and start filling in the blank with everything you notice. I get to receive the song of that bird. I get to receive the warm breeze on my face. You don’t have to be name the bird. This is not about information. It’s about experience and sense. If you don’t have words for the experience, simply allow yourself to have it. I get to receive this. You might like to add “For no other reason than because I was born, I get to receive….”
See how many things you get to receive. You may find yourself greedy for more. You are at the Universe’s banquet table and you are saying “Yes, thank you!” You exhaled and you are breathing in. I especially like saying “I get to receive” rather than “I am receiving” because it adds a sense of fun and gift. There is less opportunity for resistance (as in the “I-am-receiving-oh-no-you’re-not” dialog with the Saboteur)
And speaking of banquet tables, this Thanksgiving, take a moment to remove yourself from the conversation and look at each person around the table, saying within, “I get to receive ___________ from ______.” Fill in the blanks with something wonderful, quirky, even ordinary about, but unique to, that person and their name. Let me know what happens for you.
This practice of receiving creates presence. Being present, in the now, we are free to experience the great fullness of life, something we deserve simply because we were born.
After all, the best things in life are gratis.
Copyright © June 2006 and November 2009, Kathy J Loh, all rights reserved