When you ‘do’ gratitude as a practice it’s coming from an idea of limit — that I ‘need’ to do this in order that… When you realise who you are before ideas of limit, you know yourself as unconditional gratitude, already.
“When you acknowledge everything you love, you begin to love everything you acknowledge.” Matt Khan
About 6 years ago I came across the practice of #3goodthings — every day writing in a notebook, or tweeting, 3 good things that had happened that day. Sometimes it was seemingly small things, like how nice my sandwich was at lunch, things I’d normally brush over, and it had the effect of me realising that while the mind could say ‘today’s been pretty average’ or even ‘terrible!’ it started to bring chinks of lovely light into that narrative. Showing how the stories of the mind were not accurate and that when you look closely there’s always something to appreciate.
Back then the activity was also overlayed with a need — if I do this practice then I’ll feel better and have a happier life. And the same was true of appreciation of others, although with a bit more overlay tangled into it — because appreciating others looked like it had the added bonus-effect of gaining acceptance and inclusion; ‘they’ll be my friend’ is a foundational story most people grow up with, and most adults are walking around with today, albeit now made to look grown up with networks and communities, clients and customers, bosses and colleagues.
Trouble is, when you believe you need acceptance from others, you also get back the opposite and can spot, all over the place, situations where you’re not included, or not accepted. Suffering.
Or maybe it seems that, now everyone thinks you’re a lovely, grateful person, it also seems like it’s not OK to get frustrated about anything or to express any kind of disappointment or people will leave you. Suffering.
No freedom in either of these places. Conditional gratitude is a limit and leads to more limit and more suffering the more it’s ‘done’.
Mistakenly you’ve taken the suffering as evidence that you’re not doing enough appreciation or gratitude, or you’re not doing it well enough. Or that you really must keep up this effort, or else they might all not like you.
But no, all the suffering is telling you is that you’re looking at the world through a distorted lens of thinking, a limiting belief or rule, an idea that appreciation and gratitude are essential to success, happiness and inclusion; and that if you can just do enough of it, then you’ll be OK.
What’s available is to see instead is that who you are is beyond these ideas and limits. That there is something else that you are that sees everything is whole, complete and included already. That nothing needs to be worked for or earned, that there’s no insecurity to fix, that gratitude — love — is your nature.
In the absence of distorted lenses and limiting ideas, you immediately know yourself as that wholeness; as unconditional gratitude.
Now you see that you don’t need to do gratitude or appreciation. You are gratitude and appreciation. Unconditionally.
Now nothing — including you — needs to change. And yet everything does.
With love, Helen
P.S. Thursday 24th June is the last Connection Call before we move to do a Book Group. If you’d like to join to explore Unconditional Gratitude and the route back to this level of freedom, go here to find out more and book.
I coach and guide smart, passionate, curious people who care about improving the lives of those around them. Often coaches and leaders, they’ve worked hard all their lives to be the ‘best’ them and it doesn’t seem to have delivered the happiness, security or freedom they expected. Now they’re wondering what else is available. I guide you back, prior to stories, to remember the real you because that’s what you, me and the whole world really wants! Find out more here.