After years of working on self-improvement, I realized that Gratitude is the Currency for Grace. We all seek grace in our lives, practicing gratitude can really help to manifest that grace.
Gratitude is the Currency for Grace
It doesn’t cost anything to be grateful, though at times it takes some effort. Especially when we feel the whole world seems to be against us. Often, we struggle to find the grace in our lives, if we’ve lost a job, or a loved one or our boss is putting pressure on us to work longer hours with no increase in pay.
Maybe the car has broken down or you need new tires but can’t afford them or you have that wedding to go to, but you know you can’t spend the money on a new dress or shoes. Life can feel overwhelming and gloomy when you cannot find a way out.
How to Shift Your Energy and Cultivate Gratitude
We’ve all seen the books and the YouTube Videos that say, “you just need to shift your vibration” in order to change your life. Well, it’s not like you can just push a button on your forehead or twist a dial on the top of your head. HOWEVER, you can, wake up in the morning, put your feet on the floor and say: “Thank you. Today, I get another chance to try.” You can also say, “thank you for the air I breathe,” and then take a deep breath, with intention and with gratitude. And when you feel that vibrational shift, and you will, you can perhaps take a moment to think of three more things to be grateful for.
I am grateful for, the bed where I just spent the night sleeping.
I am grateful for the fact that when I turn on the tap to wash my face, fresh water pours from the tap.
I am grateful that when I go downstairs to have my breakfast, there will be food in the refrigerator.
Even a Small Change Can Make a Difference
Watch how you begin to realize the richness that is in your life and feel the grace that even those simple things are available to you. Sometimes, they are not available, as they aren’t for so many in the world, so in that case, you might have to find just one thing to be grateful for, one thing to say, “thank you” for. It might just be a moment of meditation and then “thank you for the fact that I woke up this morning.”
This exercise is not to make you feel guilty for having things in your life that are full of grace when so many are without. Having a gratitude practice helps you to shift your energy to appreciation and joy for all the grace you have received. It can help deepen empathy and compassion.
It can help you shift your energy from feelings of frustration, hurt, jealousy, or anger to a recognition of the grace that is indeed in your life. Once you sense and feel that grace, because you have chosen to be grateful, you will see how that powerful energetic shift, can bring more to your life that you can be grateful for. More to your life that you can share with others.
Right now, in the world, there are millions of people who do not have even the security of a roof over their head. They do not know where their next meal will come from, or for that matter, the next bomb or rocket.
So, as we sit, and explore the things in our lives that we are grateful for, let us also nurture a mindfulness of participation and empathy for those who are being driven from their homes through war, poverty, or domestic violence. Let us show our gratitude in tangible ways, by offering a prayer, by sharing, even a little, of what we have with another.
We might only be able to share our time, or our thoughts or condolences, we might say a prayer of grace as we eat our meal. Even our attitude towards what we have can be a powerful awakener. Am I aware when I carelessly order more than I need and then toss half of it in the trash? Do I “have to have” the latest pair of sneakers because the color I have is no longer in fashion even though I only wore them once?
Little Ways to Make your Gratitude Practice Count
It is not always about grand gestures, sometimes it is just enough to be aware and to send loving thoughts. Sometimes you might be inspired to give to a shelter or volunteer at a nursing home. There will always be people who have more than you and people who have less than you. As you meditate on gratitude, find what inspiration comes to you about what you can share.
One can be jealous or one can be generous. Being in gratitude can help neutralize the negative thoughts and give strength to the positive feelings of participation with all souls. Once this awareness becomes part of your being, it is much easier to make different choices.
If You Want More Grace in your Life, be more Grateful
I sat with a woman recently, who is ninety-seven years old. She was telling me how, when she was a child, she had to walk a mile to school even when it was below minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit. She wasn’t complaining, just observing; “how lucky she was that she didn’t have to walk two, or five miles.” She is a woman who has lived her life with much grace and offering of herself to the benefit of others. I am certain, that her gratitude for the simple things has given her the strength to carry on. She is still living her life with strength and fortitude.
I think it was Oprah Winfrey who coined the phrase of “having an attitude of gratitude.”
It is a powerful statement – like having a standard to live by and it can change your world in an instant.
We can all fall into the trap of having a bad response when things don’t go well or in the way we expect. And I am as guilty as anyone at times for complaining, especially if I’m tired or overworked. However, I feel very fortunate. I know, that if I meditate on what is bothering me, I can quickly realize that I really have nothing to complain about. I realize that I have so much to be grateful for.
Meditating on gratitude, immediately restores me to my center, to my true self. It takes me to that place where I can feel the grace in my life and move forward with a much more positive attitude. When I am in that state of gratitude, difficulties feel more like opportunities for growth, challenges feel like strengthening exercises, a whole different feeling of powerful energy surges through my body.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Like any new exercise regime, it can take practice to turn a new approach into a habit. I read somewhere, that if you want to introduce a new habit and have it be successful, it takes 21 days for that habit to become habitual.
I can sincerely recommend making your gratitude meditation a daily habit, at least for 21 days. Take a journal, or a notebook and choose a few minutes, twice a day, to write down what you are grateful for. Start your day with three items, end your day with five.
In the beginning you might struggle, because you might feel that the items you are grateful for should be big things. Write down the small things too; the seemingly insignificant things, in time, might actually become the most important things. More about that in a moment. Instead of reading back over each entry at the end of a day or a week, I recommend, not reading back over your entries until you have at least completed the 21 days.
It can be a marvelous exploration of your inner self when you look back over it at a later time. My personal experience ended up being a lot more profound than I expected and that may become true for you as well.
Awakening to the Little Things
I was about halfway through my 21 Days of Gratitude when I wrote down that I was grateful for a dinner that my friend prepared for me in exchange for cutting her hair. She had made a simple bowl of rice with vegetables and some Indian spices. It wasn’t a huge thing. But as I remembered it later that evening, I relished it with gratitude. I noted it in my gratitude journal and then thought no more about it.
Six months later, I was reading through my gratitude journal, and I came across the entry. I realized in that moment, that it was the last meal my friend had ever prepared for me. She had since died from a brain tumor. Each time I think about it, or read it, I am so thoroughly grateful, for noticing that meal, and for writing down how grateful I was on that evening for such a simple thing.
It reminds me of the precious nature of every little moment, so many of which we take for granted, so many that we should treasure, knowing they are fleeting moments in infinity.
Even a Rose Has Thorns
It’s easy to be grateful for the nice things that happen. And, even after practicing for a while, for the little things. However, it is also really powerful to be in gratitude for the things that we don’t have.
It can also be good to be grateful for the things that didn’t happen. Developing a gratitude practice can lead us to love and accept “what is” rather than wishing things to be otherwise. Perhaps we are upset that we didn’t get the job we felt we really deserved or wanted. We might have missed a train that delayed us getting somewhere faster.
It can sometimes take a little more effort to be grateful for the things that didn’t happen. But once you taste the sweetness of the realization, it is a practice that is hard to give up.
Practicing gratitude can bring you from suffering to self-care; from disillusion, to trusting that there is a greater plan for me, and I can be patient.
There are many parts to life. And if we too eagerly grasp for just the beautiful things, we can sometimes be hurt. Like grabbing a rose to try to capture its scent; we need to be cautious and gentle, so the thorns don’t prick our fingers.
We can even be grateful for practicing patience. Waiting for what is right to come to us in Divine timing. How many divorces happen because the girl, or the boy, just wanted the wedding, but maybe were not ready for the work of the marriage? How many shelter dogs exist, because someone wanted a puppy, but didn’t understand the responsibility of having a dog?
If you had accepted the no, might you have avoided unnecessary pain. Can you be grateful for the lesson learned?
Practicing Gratitude as an Act of Self Care
Sometimes, meditating on gratitude has to be a very deliberate act; not just something that arises because we are feeling grateful. There are times that practicing gratitude is the hardest thing to do. It might just be a whisper, through the sobbing of tears, a bridge to the next breath. But it is in these moments that the profound strength of a practice of gratitude can be most powerful.
In these moments, it can be a healing balm to the genuine pain which our very humanness can cause. A sincere and deliberate statement of gratitude, even when we are not quite feeling it, can lead us back to our inner spirit. It can lead us to healing the sorrow. It can also give us the strength to humbly say: I trust you, universe, and I am grateful for what is here with me. When you let that statement suffuse your whole being, light pours in, self-love pours in and the healing begins.
Last year, my father died, and I couldn’t fly home to be with him because of Covid. Nor could I attend his funeral. Painful as it was, I was so tremendously grateful for the fact that I could watch the service online. I could speak by phone to him in those final days.
I thought of all the thousands of souls, who for thousands of years did not have such technology. And, of of the many, even today on this earth, who do not have the opportunity I had. I remembered that I am already more blessed than many others.
Through my ability to meditate and practice gratitude, I got through those difficult days. And, with more grace and less pain than if I had let my anger and sadness rule.
Masters of Gratitude and Grace
Through my own experience, I know that gratitude is a powerful transformer, but don’t just take my word for it. There are many spiritual masters who speak of gratitude being a powerful tool for transforming our lives. Thich Nhat Hanh writes: “When we live with a spirit of gratitude, there will be much happiness in our life.”
Eckart Tolle states: “Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”
Not all awareness of gratitude comes from contemporary spiritual teachers. Going back many centuries we have been reminded of the strength of this wisdom. From Cicero, we hear: “Gratitude is not only the greatest of all virtues, but the parent of all others.”
And even from Buddha: “You have not cause for anything but gratitude and joy.”
Who can know, who those words were spoken to. And one cannot know how they were received. But I think a deep meditation on these words can lead us to a deeper understanding.
Finding the Grace for Yourself and Sharing it.
In the meantime, what is most meaningful, is what you discover for yourself. Through practice, finding what is true for you is the kindest thing you can do for yourself. It is the most powerful thing you can do to find the grace in your life and sharing it with others.
And, you can change the world. . . practicing gratitude is a wonderful way to bring sympathetic joy to those around you.
Being grateful, helps you to be less stressed. It is sometimes the thing that brings a smile to your face from inside. It brings you a peace and tranquility that no other currency can deliver.
Meditating on gratitude, has many benefits, and at the beginning, it needs to be cultivated. However, once you recognize the benefits, it is like a coin in your pocket that you can keep giving away; but a currency that will never run out.
By Olive C. Fadda