I’ve Been Doing Gratitude All Wrong
Ever since Oprah introduced the concept of a gratitude journal years ago, I’ve felt guilty for not being more grateful. Even when I’ve very sporadically kept one of those journals, hastily jotting down three things each night that made me happy or thankful, I could never get into a practice. Part of this is because I’ve led a relatively privileged life, along with anyone who has clean water, safe streets, a loving family and a roof over her head. I don’t fully appreciate the ease that I was born into. But I’m also beginning to think that it’s hard to be grateful to some unseen power—call it God or Spirit of the Universe—because there is a disconnectedness to it. For me that shows up as a fraud complex, or a sense that I just got lucky and that my luck could run out at any time. There is a fleeting quality to my gratitude not because I’m not grateful but because I fear good things could slip through my fingers at any moment. Back to Oprah . . . I had an aha moment when I was introduced to this concept: Gratitude is appreciating what your soul has manifested.
As someone who is terrible at taking credit for what I’ve created or accomplished, the notion that I should express appreciation for myself was uncomfortable at first, but quickly became a way for me to finally wrap my arms around gratitude. I don’t have everything I have because it fell from the sky or some mighty being waved a magic wand. I co-created my life with the universe, and all of the abundance in it. Goodness doesn’t just happen. We manifest it with thoughts, words, action, faith and vulnerability. It’s not a big secret or something reserved for a chosen few. We all possess the power to create the life we want, and the universe, without fail, rises up to meet us. That’s why friends offer up their timeshare when you yearn for adventure, pets find us when we are at our loneliest, job offers appear when you let go of your fear of failure, and the perfect partner shows up when you finally learn to love yourself. I’m still discovering what kind of life I want and the person I want to be in it, but now when I express gratitude it’s for the courage to step onto my path and for the support I’ve received every step of the way.