Gratitude – Intellect or Feeling?

A few days ago as I was driving, I had occasion to express my gratitude about someone driving ahead of me much slower than the posted speed limit. Yes, honestly, I was thanking them, in my head, for the scenario that I knew must have a gift in it somewhere. Even though it’s possible that I might never understand or see the gift aspect, I trust that it’s there.

And, as I said, I was thanking them in my head–that is with words.

I had a momentary flash of insight about the difference between expressing gratitude with words, you might call it “intellectually”, and expressing it with love, you might call it “feeling”, in my heart. Now, certainly this concept’s been around probably as long as humans have been expressing gratitude. The flash of insight aspect for me was how expressing it in my heart could instantly shift the energy of the entire situation gyrating around inside of my head.

Gratitude-in-Heart_smallAs soon as I switched to expressing thanks inside of my own heart instead of my head, everything changed:

  • the sky seemed brighter;
  • the snow was more beautiful;
  • I smiled;
  • any resistance to the other person instantly melted away;
  • my heart felt lighter; and
  • I sent a spontaneous “heart-wish” that the other driver be protected and have a beautiful day

Since then, I’ve been experimenting with expressing the feelings of love and gratitude inside of my own heart. You might wonder what this “looks like”. I am going to use the example of the driver I mentioned earlier to explain what I mean. Here’s my process:

I was driving along when a car pulled out in front of me that was driving much slower than the posted speed limit. If I had some pet peeves, this would be right up near the top. As soon as I noticed him driving slower, I could feel my body tense up which is an early sign for me to pay attention to what I’m thinking. I caught my thoughts quickly and shifted to thinking about how grateful I was that he pulled out and slowed traffic. After all, it’s possible he was averting some other “co-incidence” for all of us behind him. Then, I realized that I could switch to expressing the gratitude from my heart. So, I shifted my body awareness to my physical heart. Then, I imagined feeling gratitude inside of my heart. Once I could sense the gratitude energy in my heart, I imagined that the driver was inside my heart receiving my expression of gratitude. I felt an immediate connection to him although I have no idea who he was. And, my body instantly relaxed, and I experienced all those things I mentioned in the bullet points above.

I have a very strong intellectual processing of life experiences. I have spent a lot of my life energy thinking about past events and thinking about how to do things differently, including how to more fully experience gratitude in my life. This “feeling” gratitude process feels much deeper and more “real” to me than merely thinking about what I’m grateful for.

Focus on what you’re grateful for. Then, call forth the feeling of gratitude in your heart. Enclose people and events in your heart filled with gratitude. This is how we change the world.

Coach’s Challenge

Take a moment, now, while you’re taking a break and practice bringing someone into your gratitude-filled heart. When you practice it before you need it, you can be sure that it’s easy to do when you’re in a situation that screams for gratitude!

Suggested Resource

This week, I’m going to suggest that you are the expert in your life and in the experience of gratitude in your own heart. And, in order to become even more practiced, it takes practice. Practice “feeling” gratitude inside of your own heart in your own way as often as you get the chance.