“Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all” –William Faulkner
I like the idea that gratitude exists in the world like an electric current. The more that it is expressed and experienced, the more energy that gratitude builds. I know I am not alone in having felt appreciation for someone’s help or effort and not expressed my gratitude for their thoughtfulness or trouble. Do other people experience our gratitude when nothing is shared? It has been said that silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone and as I think of the moments when I walked away without communicating my gratitude it did feel a little like a short circuit in the energy of life.
Although I still haven’t recorded anything in my gratitude journal, today I went through a mental list of all the people with whom I have unwittingly short circuited the gratitude current. It is easier to make it up to people who you live with, maybe not that surprisingly, we are most often remiss in giving our thanks to the people who show up for us the most. What is it in our human makeup that looks for the ways someone we love falls short, instead of how they have worked to be there? It is insidious, and a mental habit that deserves nipping in the bud. Looking for and hanging onto where a loved one let you down erases the energy that the same person offered up, imperfectly and with all they had.
So I started making some calls to people who deserved to hear my thanks. It occurred to me that just saying thank you, even if it is months overdue is a discipline that would be sure to bring the energy of gratefulness into my days. Almost 1000 years ago, Meister Eckhart wrote, “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” Developing the practice of saying thanks whenever and wherever it occurs to you is a simple, easy way to keep the energy of gratitude flowing through.
My friend was surprised to hear my thanks for time we shared close to a month ago. Even with our intuitive telepathy that we often share, I don’t believe she knew how close I was holding her each time I thought of her recently. We need to say and hear our gratitude. We need to give it shape in whatever ways we can. Talking with her about all the small moments that we each held close, brought them back and there was an energy between us again, vital and close. Gratefulness expressed does that; it makes you happy to celebrate and remember what is good.
Expressing my gratitude helped me to feel it. The energy that the thanks generates is a jump start to your own heart. I think we may be the biggest beneficiaries of our own gratitude. Generating and using up the gratitude we feel makes us conscious of our happiness.