Gratitude has been all the rage for some time, but some of us can't stomach it.
I was blown away the first time I heard Abraham-Hicks talk about why appreciation is more powerful (and more satisfying, more supportive of joy and well-being) than gratitude.
Gratitude almost always hits me wrong. This, mind you, is in the context of living life as a project in presence, cultivating ongoing awe in the beauty that gets through the cracks no matter what, meeting every face as the face of god, looking for all that supports me at every turn and finding it. I'm not the grinch.
Still, mentions of gratitude can set off that internal cringe.
I hear too many people treat gratitude like a should that somehow, when reached for (especially when they feel terrible), will bring them up a few notches on some spiritual grading scale (that I'm pretty sure nobody, no deity, no entity of earth, heaven, or hell is tabulating).
People are typically being hard on themselves when they rush to gratitude. They're not being still for what actually needs to be met that they're misinterpreting as a failure to be sufficiently grateful.
It amounts to shaming themselves to push themselves into something supposedly more elevated. Thus, they take the focus off themselves when perhaps a different and more clear focus on self would provide the needed release or breakthrough or ability to see the glass half-full.
Anyone who knows anything about my work knows I'm not a validating therapist willing to sit around listening for hours to people retell the story of how life or others have kept them down. But it's not about shoving down or shaming the stories! The beautiful breakthroughs happen in catching how you're framing things with no judgment (WITH ZERO JUDGMENT) so you can consider, dismantle, and reframe your own thinking and see something new, full of possibility. There's pain-body work to be done, too, to meet and soothe what feels bad without believing it shouldn't feel bad. This stuff is powerful, transformational.
Gratitude in itself isn't evil, but it doesn't pair nicely with should. That's a great thing to watch for in your own thinking and speech: "I should be grateful."
Really? When you're saying you should be grateful, consider it may be a royal distraction (never mind spiritual bypass). You might gain more from coming closer to whatever you're thinking and feeling that's throwing you off.
My favorite current teacher, Abraham-Hicks, explains that appreciation is stronger than gratitude this way: There's often a flavor of unworthiness in gratitude. As in,
When you're in appreciation, you simply solidly feel good about what is. You're taking in what you love about this reality, this person, this meal, this state of affairs, these finances—whatever it is. You're feeling in to your own inner sense of appreciation, and it's authentic! Conversely, gratitude can feel more like an external concept to reach for, or even to force.
So consider trading in gratitude for appreciation this Thanksgiving. Or say both, "I'm grateful for ..." and "I appreciate ..." Try both, in tandem or at different moments! See if, to you, there's a nuance or a world's worth of difference.
Consider dropping the requisite gratitude list and instead keeping an ongoing tally of all you appreciate in your life, your partner, your family members, the place where you live, the job you've got, the skills and resources that support you, the body that serves you.
Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for connecting to my world. I so appreciate your presence here.
love & blessings, Jaya
P.S. This post follows last year's Recipes for Easiest Holidays Ever. Many recipes are included, preceded by a pep talk on presence. Lots of sub-headings for easy navigation.