There is no feeling quite like gratitude.
If you’re feeling bad, or tired, or negative, or angry, or scared, or worn down, or doomed, or deadened, the salve you’re searching for is gratitude. Hell! If you’re feeling great and want to do something neat, want to funnel your energy in an excellently positive direction, gratitude’s your man.
I participated in my first (and only) sweat lodge almost a year ago at Burning Flipside, and one of the things that stood out about my experience was the effect gratitude has on me. It was very intense emotionally, but the most intense part was the gratitude. It was also the most important part, though I didn’t know exactly why. It was an essential part of everything. Maybe it’s the life blood of the cosmos. Whatever it was, it was powerful.
I learned to generate gratitude accidentally, when I was at a Learning Strategies weekend seminar. Millicent hooked me up to a (somewhat silly) heart rate game and told me to send love to the planet. So I did. It felt surprisingly awesome. I didn’t know I could send love to something until I tried sending love to something, but that wasn’t even the best part. Sending love is neat, but an amazing side effect of sending love was discovering that I could manufacture gratitude out of nothing.
Feeling feelings on purpose instead of just reactively is a super useful tool (for dozens of reasons). With very little practice I have gotten to the point where I can be grateful for something completely random, or absolutely nothing. Sometimes I use it to encourage good behavior in my body (like remembering something useful, or having sudden inspiration, or staying particularly healthy, or doing a new feat of physical exercise), but sometimes I use it just to feel good. I’m grateful for you, universe, I say. I’m grateful to be in you / around you / you. You are freaking awesome.
Sometimes I give my unconscious a cake. Hello, unconscious dudes, I say. Here is a nice cake for you! (I have noticed in the past that the cakes I give to my unconscious dudes are always normal mainstream cakes—expensive sugarsome confectionary concoctions, the kind of thing I craved before my jihad against poison. I don’t know what this means, but feel free to psychoanalyze.) In whatever case, it’s a symbol of gratitude. (Or of bribery.)
As I got better at it, I didn’t give cakes so often anymore. I mostly just created the feeling.
I can make it very very intense. Grateful! It floods me, it’s warm and electric and extremely mellow. It tends to obliterate lesser feelings. It fills up and heals and makes better.
It’s quite worth a try!
I recommend starting with something you know you’re grateful for, and focusing on feelin’ the feelin’. Pay attention to the shape and texture of it, the expanse of it, taste and color, and remember what it feels like to feel it. Later on, you can make it happen just by remembering it and feeding it.