The Two Faces of Gratitude

Many have extolled the value of gratitude.

“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough,” said Meister Eckhart. In Rumi’s words: “Gratitude is the wine for the soul. Go on. Get drunk.” In our own times, Willie Nelson noticed that “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.”

Some like to take time before going to sleep to be grateful for the many blessings the day has brought. Or we may start our day being grateful –grateful both for the big things in our life, and for the little ones. Some like to keep lists of all that they are grateful for — a list that never ends; there‚Äôs always something else to add.

Gratitude is a feeling. Therefore, more than just thinking of what we are grateful for, we should open to the feeling itself. How do our hearts feel when we are grateful? What subtle sensations are there in the body? As we become aware of the feelings, we can allow ourselves to soak in them; savoring how it feels to be grateful; allowing it to nourish our being.

And there’s a second face to gratitude that isn’t mentioned as much. Turning it around to consider the ways in which others may feel gratitude for you. Some of them you may know of; others you may surmise. And undoubtedly there are many of which you have no awareness.

Notice how it feels to know that others feel grateful for you. It’s a different quality from that of being grateful yourself; a gentler more receptive feeling, but one which is equally nourishing to the heart.

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