During Thanksgiving many of us are focused on gratitude. Gratitude is paradoxical. A lot of people try to be grateful because they have read or heard that they should be grateful because it will make them feel like a better person, it will lower their blood pressure or it will help them out in some other way.
While being grateful for the sake of it doesn’t sound negative thing on the surface, it means you’re being thankful for a selfish reason. You’re violating the spiritual principle behind gratitude because true gratitude is totally unselfish.
There are two types of gratitude - fear-based and love-based. Guess which one we are naturally predisposed for?
The majority of us are only grateful when things go the way we want or when some negative situation is avoided - our child is sick and they get better, or we think we are going to lose our job, but we don’t. While we are indeed grateful, it is fear-based and not love-based.
Fear-based gratitude is based on things going your way. While you do feel a type of peace, it’s not real peace and it’s only temporary. It’s selfish because it’s all about you getting what you want. Getting what you want gratitude is NOT gratitude. It’s a tool to get more pleasure and less pain.
Sadly, many people have never experienced true love-based gratitude. Love-based gratitude will make you at peace in almost any situation. If things are good, you are grateful. If things are bad, you are grateful.
Comparison can also destroy gratitude. You may find yourself thinking “so and so has twice than me.” Well, maybe they have worked twice as hard as you! This is really based on an internal identity linked to either inferiority or superiority. Comparison is another fear-based practice. As human beings we’re all made in the image of God - good at heart as well as with all sorts of problems.
At Thanksgiving and at any time of year it’s certainly great to take a few moments to reflect and think about what to be grateful for but the real goal is to BE grateful and not for just a few moments when we stop and reflect. That’s fine but that is really sort of surface level and again that is usually based on what you can get for yourself.
Being a genuinely grateful person doesn’t occur just at Thanksgiving or when you happen to think about it. You can’t live in a place of gratitude if you are also living in a place of what’s in it for me. You’ve got to stop living based on what’s best for you, but what is best for everyone.
Gratitude is often misunderstood and most people do not do it consistently because of that. Ask yourself these questions to determine whether or not you are truly experiencing love-based gratitude:
- Am I grateful most of the time or just when something reminds me about it?
- Would people who know me really well say that I am a thoughtful, kind person who often puts others first?
- When I am practicing gratitude is it to get something for myself or is it with no strings attached? And when people don’t respond well to it do I get a little irritated or am I completely fine?
The root cause of ingratitude is the feeling of insecurity or insignificance. Security comes from two places typically - physical security or safety (such as a roof over your head) or acceptance versus rejection. Rejection comes from a place of pain. And that pain causes you to focus on yourself to make sure you are OK.
You can use X Factor or Trilogy to pinpoint your pain or fear and begin living in a state of genuine love-based gratitude that happens year round, and not just at Thanksgiving!