The Gratitude Question
This is another one of those messages that really made me sit up and think. I know I emailed it to a couple of you – I felt it was worth posting here as well. Such a timeless reminder. Such a simple question that inspired profound thankfulness within me.
My heartfelt thanks to my sister, Kim, for thinking of me and passing it along.
-by Fay Thompson
It is often said that feelings of gratitude are the most prosperous feelings in the Universe. When we are in a state of gratitude, we see only the abundance of what is before us; we only notice the well-being and value in those people and things for which we are grateful. Why then, do we not stay in a state of gratitude? Why is this often not the primary feeling we experience during the day?
I asked this question to the Universe. This is the answer I received:
“Gratitude occurs in the noticing. Gratitude occurs in the awareness of value in something, and the subsequent appreciation of it. When one becomes focused on the absence of what is wanted, the experience of gratitude can not be experienced in that moment. It does not mean that gratitude does not exist. It does not mean the value is not there. It only means when one focuses on the absence of value, they are unable to experience the value that they seek. Notice the value in the people and things around you, moment to moment, and you will have mastered all the Universe. ”
In other words, stop pretending all the problems in your life are important. They’re not. In fact, you may find they disappear if you noticed what was valuable in them.
A good friend and mentor told me that there is a gratitude question that truly makes you aware of all the things for which you are truly grateful. I remind myself of it often, and it always astounds me of how much I take for granted. It always reminds me how much I have forgotten to see the value in all the things around me. Here is this wondrous gratitude question:
What would you miss if it were gone tomorrow?
My goodness, the answer to that question is long, isn’t it? I’d miss my husband and children. I’d miss my family and my friends. I’d miss my bed, my clothes, my furniture, my lap top, my house, my car, my cat, food, especially chocolate, water, grass, trees, flowers, air, Earth, floors, heating, electricity, stores, indoor plumbing … you get the picture. (And I’d miss that too). There is so very much that in truth we are grateful for. In the hustle and bustle of seeking more, we tend to forget all that is already here.
Much of our ungratefulness is aimed at ourselves. When there is a part of yourself that you do not appreciate, this is also a good question to use to remind yourself how much you value yourself. Many people are very unhappy with the look of their bodies. In order to shift that self-hate and unappreciation to self-love and gratitude, ask , “what would I miss if it were not here tomorrow?” Would you miss your flabby arms if they were not here tomorrow? I’m guessing your arms would take on a whole new value if you found them amputated in the middle of night. Would you miss your thighs? You may notice they were very useful in getting you about, not to mention how they so beautifully connected your knees to the rest of your body.
In terms of weight, let’s say you weigh 160 pounds and you want to weigh 140. You are currently ungrateful for your current weight. What if you woke up tomorrow and your 160 pounds was no longer there, but replaced with 180 pounds? From that perspective, you’d be quite grateful for your current weight. If the 160 pounds were gone entirely, wouldn’t you miss you? I would. There’s a heck of a lot of value packed into that 160 pounds. The same value that would be packed into 180 pounds or 140 pounds, if you stop to think about it.
When you begin to value from the point at which you are at, it is much easier to get to where you wish to be. When you are loving and grateful for where you are at, you are already at the place you want to be – a place of feeling good. When you stay in that feeling-good place for awhile, you will find that the world looks differently to you. The outer world will begin to match your inner world (or inner feeling). You will attract a weight reduction or whatever it is you are desiring. This is what it means when you hear, “You must be grateful for what you have to get to where you want to be.” When we focus upon “It’s not enough. I’m left with wanting more.” then that is the experience you will create for yourself. Then the outer world will match the inner feeling leaving you still wanting more.
I was challenged by this gratitude question when I thought I would not miss a certain person from my past who had caused me pain. Then I thought, if he were to not exist, then I wouldn’t have learned about the inner strength and resolve I have. I would not have realized that someone else’s opinion of me does not need to match my own in order for me to be ok. Even if I was willing to give those lessons up to wipe him out (and I’m not), I know there are others out there who would miss him dearly. His mother, his father, his siblings, his children, his spouse, and his friends. I would not want to be responsible for that loss to those people. This helps me to find value in him. This helps me to find compassion within myself, and the capacity to forgive. This is the power of gratitude. It heals hurts.
I am grateful for all the people who read this. I am grateful for the answers that always come to my questions. I am grateful for you, and I am grateful for me. And that makes me feel good.
What is it that you are grateful for?
What is it that you would miss if it were gone tomorrow?
Whatever the answers, don’t forget to include yourself in the mix.
“It is a tragedy when the people around you miss the gift of who you are. The greatest tragedy, however, is when you miss the gift of who you are.” An aquaintence from The Mastery workshops made this notation at the bottom of the email. I whole-heartedly agree.
I believe that some of the greatest gifts we can experience in our lifetime is to embrace with our whole heart and being (not our ego, but rather our true self) who we really are, our worth and how we contribute to the lives of those we meet along the way.