Shifting Your Perspective Through Gratitudesam
by Gina Lake
Gratitude comes from essence-your truest Self. It is not the ego’s nature to be grateful but quite the opposite. When you feel gratitude, it is coming from essence. When you are feeling gratitude, it is helpful to acknowledge the gratitude and really allow yourself to feel it and to sustain it with positive statements that express the feeling in that moment. Essence is in love with all of life and bursting with joy over the miracle that it is. The ego dampens this joy with complaints and ideas for how the moment could be better. We rarely stay long in gratitude because the ego is so quick to pull us out of it, but if we can learn to give our attention to the natural gratitude that arises from essence, that can become our ongoing feeling about life.
We are programmed to pay attention to the ego and its complaints about life, so to counteract this, we have to make an effort to give our attention to gratitude when we experience it and to create the feeling of gratitude when we are not experiencing it by noticing what is good and lovable about life rather than what the ego doesn’t like. The ego’s ongoing commentary is basically about what is wrong with something. If we give our attention to that, then that is what we will experience and give voice to. If you want to experience life as lacking, then listen to the egoic mind. The more you do that, the more you will find lacking. On the other hand, if you want to experience life as good, then notice the experience that your true self-essence-is having instead of the running negative commentary of the mind.
The experience of essence is one of love, acceptance, and openness to all life. This experience is ongoing and accessible in any moment; it just isn’t experienced through the mind. To be happy and feel the joy of essence, we have to turn away from whatever the mind is telling us to the experience of the moment, where that joy can be felt. Joy is an experience-not a thought-and it is only available in the here and now. You have to discover it in the moment, and once you do, you have to continue to give your attention to it, or you are likely to find yourself thinking again. Being in essence and staying there requires your continued attention to the moment rather than to the mind. Whenever your attention wavers off the moment, you will surely be back in the mind.
Whatever you give your attention to becomes stronger, so if you give your attention to what you are not grateful for, then feelings of lack, resentment, anger, disappointment, and frustration will grow. On the other hand, if you give your attention to what you are grateful for, then the feeling of gratitude grows along with other positive feelings: joy, peace, contentment, acceptance, and happiness.
Exercise: Increasing Gratitude
You can train yourself to be more aware and expressive of gratitude in any number of ways:
Write down all the things you are grateful for and recite them to yourself every morning and night.
Make a collage or picture of everything you are grateful for. This is a very powerful way of expressing and reinforcing your gratitude because it takes time, energy, and focus.
Bring gratitude to as many moments as possible during your day.
Doing these things to align yourself with gratitude rather than lack is a very powerful spiritual practice, which can change your life when done consistently. The reason gratitude can change your life is that it is a simple way to move from the ego to essence. All it requires is remembering to be grateful. You can reprogram your mind by using gratitude to replace any thought of lack, resentment, disappointment, frustration, or anger. Whenever a negative thought arises, replace it with gratitude. For example: If the thought arises “He shouldn’t have done that to me,” it can be replaced with “I’m grateful I have the strength and understanding to deal with this.” In doing this, you move from victimization to peace, personal power, and acceptance.
Statements of gratitude such as this are not only truer, but they eliminate the suffering created by negative and untrue statements. You have the power to change your experience of life by changing what you say to yourself about your experiences. Our initial response to any experience is likely to come from the ego because it is programmed to respond instantly, automatically, and negatively to whatever is happening. We have to learn to slow down our responses enough to allow for a different and more positive response. When we do that, we are reprogramming our mind and healing our conditioning, and that conditioning is less likely to arise again, or arise as strongly.
Because the egoic mind is so unrelentingly negative and because we are programmed to listen to it, we have to be unrelentingly committed to another, more positive perspective, or we will be left with the egoic mind’s perspective. Happiness doesn’t lie in the direction of negativity and lack of gratitude. No matter how wronged you may feel by someone or by life, the only way out of the suffering involved in that is to change your perception of the situation. Essence is grateful for all experience because all experience brings growth and learning and because certain attributes, such as compassion, patience, and perseverance, can only be developed through challenges.
Exercise: Being Grateful for Challenges
Although it may not be possible to be grateful for having had a particular experience, we can learn to focus on being grateful for the growth or other positive things that came from it. No experience is without benefit. These benefits may be difficult to see when we are in the midst of a particular tragedy, but as time passes, they become easier.
Ask yourself: How did that experience serve me? What was good about it? How have I grown as a result of it? The more you can focus on how something served you, the easier it will be to forgive, let go, and move on.
We tend to focus on what we dislike about something, how awful it is, and how unfair it is, and other people are often happy to agree with us and reinforce this perspective. However, doing this is not healing and it doesn’t help us grow from the experience and turn it into the gold it can be. Every difficult experience can be transmuted and a means of transformation of ourselves and others, or it can be a source of ongoing pain and limitation. We get to choose what it will be. Gratitude is the key to shifting our perspective to one that will heal us and help us grow and be a positive force in the world.
Copyright © 2007 Gina Lake. All rights reserved.
Excerpted from Getting Free: How to Move Beyond Conditioning and Be Happy by Gina Lake.
Gina Lake has a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology and over twenty years experience supporting people in their spiritual growth as an astrologer and a channel. She is the author of several books on spirituality, including: Radical Happiness, Anatomy of Desire, Return to Essence, Choosing Love, Getting Free, and Living Your Destiny. Gina is available for astrological and channeled phone consultations that support awakening and living a conscious life. For more information or to order any of these books, to read excerpts, or to download
Radiance: Experiencing Divine Presence for free, please visit radicalhappiness.com.