“Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all.” ~William Faulkner
Every positive psychology text you will ever find will name the practice of gratitude as one of the most direct routes to reframing your thinking and increasing the positive aspects of your life. For instance, like love, it is impossible to feel afraid while you feel grateful. Your brain cannot hold those two disparate thoughts simultaneously. And yet, thinking grateful thoughts is a qualitatively different experience than the moments of grace when gratitude takes over your heart and transforms your perspective.
Like orgasm or forgiveness, I have learned enough about gratitude to know that you can’t force it. All of these experiences share some fundamental characteristics – you can open to them, you can lean towards them in your thinking, you can invite a vulnerable space in your body to feel, but you can’t force the experience. Still, paying attention to what we want to cultivate is the most powerful use of our mind’s eye. We will find that attention is often sufficient to make big changes.
So I am taking the summer gratitude challenge. Consider it an extension course of the positivity quest. Every day I am going to practice holding my thoughts and leaning towards gratitude. Maybe I will even wear a bracelet again to notice the times when I am not having grateful thoughts. And every evening I will write about what I learned about gratitude and how it is changing my life.
I am excited for this next step of the positivity quest because I have a few mentors I have met through this endeavor who are living entirely blessed lives and the one thing that I believe to be most true about each of them is that gratitude, like love is the pulse that measures each beat of their lives.
Stay tuned and consider joining me on this summer of gratitude experiment. It is the doorway to the goodness that is right in front of us.