There are dual sides to everything, including gratitude.
Just as fire can burn or heat, gratitude can cure or curse.
When I was a little girl and refused to eat my veggies ,
my mom would remind me of the starving children in Africa,
and she would tell me that I should be grateful for the food I had
because others weren't as lucky.
You might say that I was guilted into gratitude.
Later in life, I would be walking along the streets of Manhattan,
where homeless life is extremely challenging year round but especially in the winter.
I recall thinking about how grateful I was for everything that I had.
When I would watch the news, which I actually gave up in the 1980's,
the hardship that I witnessed on the tube would make me feel grateful
for the small problems I had in comparison.
What I did not understand at that time was that I was using another's
misfortune as leverage so that I could feel grateful.
Looking back now, with greater insight, I can clearly see that I needed others misfortune
in order to feel good about my life, and in this way I was unknowingly responsible for their circumstance.
I was actually cursing these participants in my experience, by judging them
and then using that judgment to feel better about my life - to feel better about myself.
"Oh, you have it so bad, you poor thing. That makes me so grateful for what I have and you don't."
This is Convoluted Gratitude.
Convoluted gratitude is not gratitude at all.
It is judgment disguising itself as something positive,
and it actually holds the "undesirable" situation in place.
When you need the thing you judge, so you can feel gratitude,
it is gratitude at someone elses expense.
Can you look deep and see what it energetically does to them - and to you?
There is still another kind of convoluted gratitude.
It is when you imagine a worse time for yourself and by comparison, you feel gratitude.
"I'm so grateful this isn't worse."
"I'm grateful to live in this house I don't really like, because it is better than nothing."
"I'm grateful for this job I can't stand, because it is better than being unemployed"
This is gratitude by default - using judgement and comparison to feel better.
Convoluted Gratitude is a Mind Game.
The mind can only create gratitude through leverage, judgment and comparison.
"That is bad so that makes this better."
When you are in judgment, you are in fear, which blocks love and therefore blocks true gratitude.
Let's transcend Convoluted Gratitude.
We must ask ourselves, what is a higher form of gratitude?
It is true that our life experiences often bring us to an understanding of preference
and when our preferences are attained, gratitude is a natural result.
But, if we depend on contrast to experience gratitude,
we hold ourselves in a diabolical loop of needing the undesirable
in order to feel grateful for the desirable.
What would it look like and feel like to live in a State of Pure Gratitude?
What would it be like to experience gratitude for everything in your experience?
I'm not saying that you should give up your preferences.
Keep your preferences - create even more.
Just don't wait for the attainment of them to feel grateful.
You can be grateful right now - without convoluted conditions attached to gratitude.
This is Unconditional Gratitude.
Unconditional Gratitude is not a mind game.
Unconditional gratitude is a full heart experience that is beyond mind.
Unconditional Gratitude is experienced through the heart as a field of love that expands well beyond the physical body.
Gratitude is the natural result of opening your heart and allowing the presence
of whatever is present - being in a state of humble allowance.
There is a sense of merging with what is and seeing the beauty in everyone and everything.
The breath is enough to induce gratitude.
The ability to see, hear and feel is enough to invoke gratitude.
Loving another is all the fuel you need to experience gratitude.
As my dad would say, "Everything else is gravy."
And there is an abundance of gravy!
The sun, the stars, the moon - the perfection in which life cares for us and heals us.
Every moment of your life has offered you abundant gifts containing the seeds for gratitude.
Instead of using starving children in Africa to remind you to appreciate your food,
see all children of the world fed and happy. Be Grateful.
Instead of needing someone worse off so you can feel better about your current circumstance,
see everyone in their highest good right now. Be Grateful.
Instead of using your mis-fortuned past self as leverage to feel gratitude now,
see your past self as the courageous catalyst that led the way to your current life. Be Grateful.
This is the shift from fear into love.
Unconditional Gratitude happens authentically in this moment.
It needs no leverage, judgment or comparison.
It is the natural result of pure awareness - through an open heart.
This is the true Grace of Gratitude.
Invocation for Unconditional Gratitude
Today may I drop my stories of good and bad long enough
to see the divine harmony and beauty of what is.
May I give less control to my mind,
and more power to my heart which can see past contrast.
May I embrace love and compassion for all,
and imagine only the highest good for myself and for the world.
May my gratitude overflow so that others may be reminded of
unconditional gratitude, and that love is always a choice.
May I be blessed by the Grace of Gratitude.
So Be It.
In grace & gratitude,