How to Deepen our Gratitude Practice
“Gratitude, like faith, is a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it grows, and the more power you have to use it on your behalf. If you do not practice gratefulness, its benefaction will go unnoticed, and your capacity to draw on its gifts will be diminished. To be grateful is to find blessings in everything. This is the most powerful attitude to adopt, for there are blessings in everything.” ~ Alan Cohen
This quote speaks to the training of our gratitude muscle, or in other words, the practice of gratitude.
There are a variety of ways that we can experience and understand gratitude to understand it more thoroughly. The two that we will focus on today are depth and scope.
By depth, I mean the power of this feeling of thankfulness. On a spectrum of 1 to 10, 1 would be a slight amount of warmth, the barest flicker of a smile on our lips. 10 is more like an overwhelming energy shattering us open from the inside, forcing us to our knees with love and devotion, tears bursting from our your eyes and/or laughter erupting from our lips uncontrollably.
The more we open to the power of gratitude, the more we feel its power.
By scope, I mean that the wider our gratitude becomes, the easier it becomes to be grateful for something wonderful—a first kiss, by a surprise birthday party, or maybe a compliment from someone we really admire. But the more we experience gratitude, the more we become grateful for. Sometimes the smallest things can bring a powerful sense of gratitude—the smile of your local barista, the toilet seat being put down, flatmates leaving leftovers in the fridge.
As we continue to practice, we will find that it becomes possible to find gratitude for unpleasant and even painful things. We learn to find gratitude in life’s obstacles, for our feelings of anger, for climate change—even for death.
When we look at gratitude on these two axes, it’s easy to see that, for most of us, we have such plenty of space to grow in this practice. Most of us probably experience only a little bit of each spectrum, and we can see just how much more gratitude we can invite into our lives.
Why should we do this? First there is the subjective experiential goodness of it: it just feels good to be grateful. Beyond that, gratitude has been scientifically proven to bring all sorts of benefits into our lives, including reducing stress, improving the immune system, and improving overall health.
But for me, as a Yogi, the most important reason to practice gratitude is that I know of no better way to be present.
with love and gratitude,