Photo: Junior REIS
Dried up? Burned out? Uninspired?
This ONE's for you.
If you’ve been in the personal or spiritual development world for any amount of time, you’ve surely heard about the benefits of a consistent gratitude practice.
Self-help books promote gratitude practices for a number of reasons: to connect with your friends and family, to generate more wealth, to be happier and more content with your life.
They insist that taking time to give thanks for what and who you have in your life is an incredibly important part of giving and receiving, whether that be love and connection or finances and worldly things.
And for good reason—
How do I know? Because years ago I made this a regular part of my daily routine.
Every morning when I woke up I would rattle off things I was grateful for, things I already had, things that were coming my way.
It was an important part of my morning practice because it set the tone for the rest of the day, what I would be focusing on, and how I would be spending my time.
Then I fell off.
I stopped doing the routine and at some point or another, stopped doing the practice.
I want to say it was a conscious decision, but really it wasn’t.
It was just what happens to most of us as we go through life—
We find incredibly potent things that impact our life in a very positive way, bring them in, engage in them regularly, and as time goes by, so too do some of these practices.
And at the same time, I feel there was good reason for this practice falling away.
NOT practicing gratitude regularly allowed me to focus more on what I wanted to create, what I wanted to bring into this world, instead of just focusing on all the good that I already had.
And this was the hang up—
I began focusing so much of my time and attention on what I didn’t have, on what could be better, on what I could change or expand upon, that I stopped paying attention to all the incredible things already taking place.
As time went on, I grew bitter and resentful, unhappy and irritated that I wasn’t able to create more of what I wanted in my life.
It’s like being in a relationship with a wonderful woman—
She’s smart, she’s sexy, she’s fun, but instead of looking at and appreciating all the things about her you love, you spend all your time, energy, and attention focused on what you wish could be better.
Just try that for a week and see how that works out for you.
And much like when we stop focusing on the things about her we appreciate, she grows cold, pulls away, and stops shining, so too goes our interaction with Her, the world.
For me, this all came to a head sometime in the last few months.
I found myself burned out, uninspired, unable to get up and get at ‘em for months on end.
At first, I chalked it up to COVID.
There had been so much going on for everyone around me, that I was definitely being affected by the feeling-states of others.
Plus, I had my own challenges working through the lockdowns, moving cross-country, so on and so forth.
I also found myself attributing this drought-like experience to my lack of self-love and self-appreciation—
“Ah, I’m manifesting these negative emotional states as an opportunity to really love myself, even during difficult times.”
There was definitely some truth to that, but the experience I was having wasn’t just negative emotions that had finally decided to surface in order to get some love from me.
Then, somewhere in the middle of the night, it hit me—
I hadn’t been grateful for just about ANYTHING for the past several months.
I had been critical.
I had looked for ways to change things.
I had analyzed and observed and calculated how I could do things differently, but I hadn’t appreciated SHIT for the past several months, probably longer.
My girlfriend, for instance.
Here I was, lying next to her in bed, but instead of appreciating her, the energy and excitement she brings to my life, I was closed off and pouty wondering how and when things would be better.
I have the best fucking job in the world—
I have the freedom to travel around the world as I support men and women in creating the best kind of lives they can possibly imagine.
Who could ask for more than that?
Well, I could.
And I had been.
And that expectation, that desire for more, that criticism that it wasn’t working out, had created a very clear block from receiving more, or even truly experiencing what I already had.
There I lay, all these insights coming my way, gratitude bubbling up in levels unfelt in a very long time.
I felt my heart crack, my throat soften, and my body became permeable.
Just feeling it.
Next to me, I felt the energy of my woman as she lay sleeping.
I breathed it in and smiled, giving her a long overdue loving embrace.
Below you’ll find instructions on one of many ways to begin cultivating gratitude in your day to day life.
There are tons of others out there, but this feeling-state inducing practice is the one I love most.
Find a quiet place where you can sit or lie down and won’t be distracted.
Set a timer for 5-minutes and close your eyes.
With your eyes closed, finish the sentence “I am grateful for…” non-stop for the next 5-minutes.
“I am grateful for my eyes and ears that allow me to experience the world around me.”
“I am grateful for my ability to read and write.”
“I am grateful for the power that’s running through this device, allowing me to connect and learn from others.”
So on and so forth.
After your timer goes off, take a few moments to check in with how you feel.
Notice how you are breathing, how you are holding your body.
Notice if you can feel any sensations taking place inside your body.
Notice the overall feeling state you’ve created in your body.
This isn’t by accident.
And it’s something that’s available to any one of us any time we’re willing to pause and look at life through the lens of appreciation.
From here, you can practice enhancing this emotional state.
To do this, feel the feeling of gratitude in your body.
Bring your attention once more to how you breathe and hold your body.
What thoughts do you have?
What happens with the muscles of your eyes and mouth?
Does anything soften in the body?
Take a moment to really tap into all that’s taking place.
As you begin to really zero in on this state, begin consciously increasing what it is you’re feeling.
If you’re feeling gratitude at say, a level 4 on a scale of 1-10, what would a 5 feel like?
Take a moment to find what a 5 would feel like in your body.
Once you’ve found a 5, start playing around with what a 6 might feel like.
Then a 7.
Then an 8.
So on and so forth until you’ve reached a 10.
Once you’ve hit a 10, allow the feeling state to flow across your entire body, from the top of your head, to the tips of your fingers, all the way down to your toes.
Bask in this feeling.
Allow each cell of your body to be nourished by the feeling state of gratitude.
Remain in this place for as long as you like.
IV. BONUS — Advanced Practice
With practice, accessing this emotional state (and any emotional state for that matter) becomes easier and easier.
In time, the initial practice of stating what you’re grateful for can be skipped, and instead, your practice focuses solely on just feeling.
THAT becomes the subject of your concentration—the feeling of gratitude.
Accessing this, you can move around your day holding this tone of appreciation in each of your interactions.
I love using this practice as I walk up and down the block in the morning.
It allows me practice feeling grateful as I experience day to day life—the sunshine, the breeze, flowers and plants growing out of the ground.
It gives me the opportunity to appreciate what’s happening around me, so that I may carry this state in each and every interaction that’s to follow.
The practice of gratitude is a must if we want to light up ourselves, the world, and those around us.
Giving praise, highlighting what we love about our life, our friends, and family, is a powerful gift we can give at any moment of any day, and it doesn’t cost us a thing.
All it requires is looking at what’s in front of us and ask: “what am I grateful for?”
Speak what comes up to your partner and watch her light up.
Share this with your friends and family and watch them glow.
See this in your day to day happenings, the world around you, and feel the tension in your body melt away.
Article inspired by real life experiences gained after attending JP Pierce's March 2021 Live Men's Group Call on Patreon