What is it that keeps us from being grateful in our lives and why does it matter? Many of us learned that gratitude is connected to the experience of comparison and guilt – those that ‘have’ versus others that ‘do not have what we do’. We heard this at the dinner table with food when we expressed our dissatisfaction with the meal: “There are starving children in India/China/Africa, you should be grateful you have food on the table!” Or, when we didn’t have something others had, “You should be grateful your pain isn’t as bad as Uncle Joe’s pain!”  These comments have us feel guilty and as if what we have is taking something away from, or creating pain for, someone else. Some of us have carried this feeling of guilt and comparison about what we ‘have or don’t have’ into our own families and places of business and worship. We feel we have no right to our dissatisfaction (this job is tedious, I hate my boss, my pastor is a cold fish) as it would make us ‘ungrateful’. What if being grateful wasn’t something we ‘should do’, and instead, was something that assisted us in getting what we actually want?

Gratitude is a state of mind and that generates emotions of appreciation, wonder, thankfulness, contentment, love, and happiness. It can feel like warmth in the body, a sense of grounded-ness, a slowing of the breath, spaciousness in the chest and heart, uncontrollable tears of joy or an automatic smile. The power of gratitude is in its ability to generate the kind of energy field needed for effortless physical manifestation. The universe that we co-create with our unconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between what has or hasn’t occurred yet. It is not bound in time. If we imagine something happening now, our brain and the response from the universe see it as happening now. In quantum theory, we learn that the universe responds to us by bringing us more of what we are already generating through our thoughts and emotions in each present moment.  If we are feeling good consistently, the universe brings more experiences to us that feel good.

When we focus our thoughts and emotional energy on how we feel AFTER what we want has arrived, the universe can bring us experiences that match those feelings. The feeling we feel AFTER we get what we want is GRATITUDE. The more often we feel it, the more experiences will show up that has us feel grateful for them. Gratitude brings us back to ourselves and allows us to let go of guilt or comparison with others for having or not having. We all have the same capacity to generate gratitude for ourselves.

One way to generate the experience of gratitude is to imagine your desire already manifested and then ‘amp up’ those feelings by holding that desire in your mind and heart for at least 17 seconds at a time. Another way is to start each day by listing everything that you ALREADY experience that you are grateful for. Small things are a great way to start – the warm cup of coffee, the soft snore of the dog, the sunrise out the window. I like the start the day by creating 2 columns on a page, one with the heading “What I Want” and the other one with the heading “What I’m Grateful For”. Then I come up with at least 10 things (large or small) for both columns. Lastly, I look over the first column and feel the feelings that go with having these desires as if they are already in my life, and then I let myself feel the ‘feels’ of the second list of what is already in my present moment experience. I fill up inside with feelings of gratitude. I start the day from a place of gratitude and it continues to generate wonderful experiences that I’m grateful for all day.

How can you tap into the power of gratitude today?