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'renot 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 should probably come 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,
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
Invitation not to let bad sensations accrue, not to allow untended thoughts to take you down the rabbit hole! Prioritize feeling good: this will connect you to your guidance system and let in the inspiration of the moment to keep moving toward love.1. Take a breath. Take several conscious breaths. Watch the breath go in and out. Get absorbed by the breath.
2. Go outside and breathe there. Look into the sky. Experience what's out there with all the senses you can engage.
3. Exercise. Stretch. Run up & down the stairs. Go around the block. Do anything to move your body and focus your attention off the mind and on your marvelous capacity to feel, move, inhabit a human body. Find someone on YouTube to guide you through some qigong or yoga or whatever. (Here's my favorite simple qigong sequence with Mimi Kuo-Deemer.)
4. Stay away from work, even mentally. Leave it alone and see what seeds sprout later. You've already given it great attention. Celebrate that. Let it go.
5. Feasting for the holidays? Chew more, taste more, give yourself full permission to eat whatever you choose to eat. Take long breaks between times of food intake—not to be righteous, but to enjoy the contrast and to be hungry again when you eat more.
6. Do the unexpected, have an adventure, go somewhere you've never been, do something appealing that scares you or goes against how you see yourself.
7. Meditate, even for 5 minutes. You could even exit (physically or mentally) during a conversation you don't want to take part in and just watch your breath go all the way in, watch it go all the way out, and keep coming back to the breath when you stray.
8. Call someone you almost never talk to, or haven't talked to in a very long time, or even the one you've believed is too far from the last contact to justify any lasting connection: you connect if you're drawn to. (Follow the inspired impulse, not the thoughts about it.)
9. Having a hard time? Tell yourself or another or write down all the reasons why this hard thing you're going through is perfect, the best training ground for what you know you need to develop in yourself. This is a moment to keep applying your own belief system, to take further whatever you've been experimenting with to live more consciously and be healthier and truer to yourself.
10. Unplug for a day (or days) from any computer activity, phone apps, social media. Include news in the exclusion. Walk away from political conversations if that feels better.
11. Sleep. Nap (30 minutes or less to stay out of deep sleep, 90 minutes for a whole sleep cycle). For naps and nighttime rest, be sure you go to sleep with a consciousness of RESET, of all things new/all things possible when you wake up.
Want a bonus? Mind your feeling states! Bored? Irritated? Stung? Get more interested in how you feel than in the thing that made you feel that way (the apparent cause). Just take care of yourself, and move toward feeling better.
Love & blessings, Jaya
Pulled from chapter 22
Never a Victim: Cultivate a Consciousness of Choice
It's hard to be a victim if you're standing firm in choice. It's hard to focus on what someone else or life itself is visiting upon you or withholding from you, if you're standing firm in choice. My pep talks about choice over time have come to be distilled to five basic points:
Let's look at the December holidays as an example of how people lose track of choice and cause themselves all kinds of stress in so doing. “I have to go to the office party,” “I'll be expected to host my in-laws again,” “We need to make this super special,” “I have to buy more princess outfits for Muffy.” You don't have to do any of those things; you may certainly choose to do them—or not.
If attendance at the party isn't or doesn't seem to be optional, then by all means, choose to go. Choose it because you value this job: it's worth it to you to attend the occasional required gathering. (You could just as well choose to quit your job, or to simply let your boss know you won't be attending and stay tuned for what happens next.) Choose to visit or host family members because you want to foster connection with these specific human beings, and this season looks like the best time to put that into action. (Do I need to say it's a valid option not to visit or host them?)
Remember you have choice, and choose consciously. So many people automatically go by duty and tradition to plan their holidays. If this is you, consider this: You get to define duty. You get to follow, toss out, or recreate tradition. If you want to continue to visit certain people during this time of year, that's a fine choice. But it is a choice: embrace it as such. You're someone who wants to do your duty, who wants to follow tradition. Maybe other things motivate you: you don't want to be disowned, or you don't want to deal with disappointing your family or having them be mad at you. Any number of factors may inform your choice. (These factors can be questioned and challenged; they can also simply be noted.)
All things considered, you're still in choice. Don't lose sight of this! It's an option to disappoint, or to anger, or even to be disowned. Do realistically note that you may equally disappoint or anger family members in your presence and participation! And if being disowned (or some less extreme family threat) is a land mine in your reality, then it probably represents a whole cluster of land mines that a whole lot more than the holidays could set off. You get to choose how and whether to let tricky or toxic issues inform your holiday choices.
If you choose to host or visit family—whatever your reasons—get 100 percent behind your choice and stop talking about everything that's a pain about it. Remind yourself that you actually want to be with family for the holidays. Become a master of extracting from the experience all there is to enjoy.
It may help to consider more deeply why you choose what you choose. How does it serve you to maintain good relations with those you work with? Can you best do that through sugar, alcohol, and tiresome conversation? What do you value or even love about being with family? What is it doing for you and yours to take a trip during vacation time in December? What's behind the choice? A very simple question to ask yourself is, What do I hope to get from this? A nice follow-up question would be, Is this the best way to get it?
If you're out of touch with the underlying aim or value, you may sabotage the very thing you're after. For example, let's say you want your kids to have grandparent time. If you focus on everything your parents or in-laws do that makes you crazy, the kids may get grandparent time, but they may also get a confusing experience of divided loyalties; they may wonder if it's really okay for them to cozy up to these people you seem to despise. ... Choose clearly and consciously, and get behind your choice by connecting to, speaking about, and interacting with what you love and appreciate about these grandparent figures.
When it's hard to get behind your choice, choose again. You can leave in the middle of a visit, or make a judicious note to self to do something else next year. But if you want to hold to your choice, in this instance or as a way of life, learn to pause to consider what supports you need in place to do that—to make the choice sustainable. It may even be a matter of making ongoing choices to support an important choice you've made. You might support a holiday choice by choosing to take excellent care of yourself while in someone else's home or while others are in yours: carve out alone time; eat in a way that doesn't throw you off or make you feel bad about yourself; tune in to your true yes/no on/off responses so you're not perpetually doing what you don't really want to do.
Emotional support may be important too. Since you could get thrown off despite your best clear choice-making, have someone in place you can call or pull aside so you can vent to a kind listener who will love and support you. When I need an ear, I go to someone who can compassionately hear whatever I'm feeling but won't treat me like a victim or support me in vilifying someone else. (This is very important to me.)
Taking such measures makes it possible for you to get 100 percent behind your choice by making sure your choice is humanly possible or sustainable. It also makes it possible for you to take full responsibility for your well-being during the holidays—victim no more. And why be a victim of the holidays? It's pretty absurd that as a culture we treat a time of vacation, sacred celebration, gift-giving, and downtime with loved ones as if it were a time of war.
Love & blessings, Jaya