Gratitude is the most powerful prayer. It can heal our pain and multiply our happiness. Adversely, complaining is a sure shot way to add misery to our lives. In a moment of pure honesty, ask yourself how often you feel thankful about your life. In my work as a spiritual advisor, I've realized that many people only notice their blessings when they are facing trouble. For instance, we feel the importance of our leg only when it's hurt or in pain. We feel thankful for our job only after we've been fired and can't find anything better. We may feel bitter in a relationship, but then we realize its importance after it has ended.
The practice of gratitude is essential to adding joy and meaning to life. Meditation is meaningless without gratitude. With gratitude, meditation can become the most important tool for manifesting the life you desire. Here are three ways you can put gratitude into practice and be more thankful this Thanksgiving.
Stop taking things personally.
Our mind constantly feeds our ego, which is why we are so attached to our mind. The ego gives us tons of reasons to take things personally. Be it the driver on the highway who cut you off, or the rude customer service agent at the airport, or even the guy at your local coffee shop, your ego wants you to be the center of attention. It will make you feel as if the whole world is against you, and it will make you act accordingly. This pattern of taking things personally makes you feel like a victim, and sooner or later you will become a victim. There is no meaning to everything in the world. Meaning is a manmade concept. The world is not wrong. The wrong lies in how we relate to the world. Be okay with the actions of others. They can't always live up to your expectations. Move on without adding any stress on your heart.
Don't be selectively thankful.
If you are only thankful for your parents, your spouse, or a selective bunch of other people, you are acting from your mind and not from your heart. Thankfulness is not toward whomever you feel like it should be toward. Thankfulness is your total being. It is the very stuff our world survives on. Almost all religions and cultures in the world have rituals and moments for expressing gratitude. If you are grateful toward just a few people, well, what about everyone else? This Thanksgiving, start practicing gratitude for all. The shower of thankfulness exists in either the whole existence or not at all. Drop all of the divisions. Embrace everything as a gift.
Let your gratitude be effortless.
The great poet Rabindranath Tagore said, "Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man." I stand by those words. God, Divine, or Universe is certainly not discouraged by us. So why are we discouraged by the life that God has given to us? This discouragement or lack of enthusiasm is seen best in the little effort that we put forth when it comes to being thankful for our blessings. Gratitude is effortless. If you have to make an effort to express your thankfulness, it is not real. We are taught to be grateful toward our religion, parents, teachers, etc., but that's nothing more than conditioning. The real gratitude feels just like falling in love. It
simply happens, and then it adds a tremendously positive force to your life.
- Make a list of all of the complaints you have inside of you toward your spouse, job, life, parents, friends, and anything else that comes to your mind.
- Right after your meditation is complete, in a moment of silence, read your complaints out loud with no judgment. For each person/situation you are complaining about, say one thing about them that you are thankful for too.
- Now, look within yourself honestly. Do you feel that there might be people who are holding grudges against you too? There probably is. It's okay. Forgive them all.
The lesson of this exercise is that a minor shift in your perception and self-awareness can cause a tremendous change in your life. Whatever you think of constantly will grow. If you think of your blessings often, they will grow.