Why Gratitude is So Important to Success
By John J. Murphy, Guest Contributor
Every holiday has meaning. These mindful moments offer us the opportunity to step back, reflect, and honor an important time or pivotal point in history. In my mind, Thanksgiving is one of the most important holidays of all – for one simple reason. Gratitude elevates consciousness. When we are in a state of thanksgiving, we are temporarily letting go of anxiety, stress, criticism, and judgmental feelings about what is wrong in the world, and we are recognizing the beauty and grace that surrounds us. This splendor and grace are always present. We just don’t feel it when our minds are preoccupied with conflict, drama, duality, and fear.
In earlier writings, I have shared insights and lessons and the impact they have had on me from the late David Hawkins, MD, Ph.D. Dr. Hawkins developed The Map of Consciousness, a tool that details 17 different stages of consciousness - each with a distinct energy “calibration value.” These stages of consciousness are like radio frequencies, each with a measurable “vibe.” The purpose of this article is not to explain the stages of consciousness in detail. For more information on this, see David’s book Power vs. Force or this summary article by Rezzan Huseyin. You may also want to read my earlier article on Courage and the Map of Consciousness.
Gratitude: A Vibe of Optimism, Growth, and Prosperity
Dr. Hawkins explained that everything in the universe has a measurable frequency. In terms of human feelings and emotions, these frequencies range from shame, guilt, and grief, the lowest of the frequencies, to joy, peace, and enlightenment, the highest of the frequencies. Appreciation and gratitude calibrate right up there with joy and peace. So, when we are feeling grateful, we are calling for more abundance and prosperity in our lives. Like energy attracts like energy. Feelings of gratitude attract more things into our lives to be grateful for. Like love, the more we give the more we receive. While “misery loves company,” love, appreciation, and joy attract love, appreciation, and joy.
Take a moment right now to stop and reflect on what you are grateful for. If you struggle with this due to some personal challenge, start with something simple. Are you grateful for your eyesight? How about your fingers, your legs, and your ability to love? Consider your relationships, your job, and the talents you have been given to share with the world. You may even want to be thankful for the many adversities you have faced because of the lessons you have learned through life’s inevitable trials and tribulations. In fact, stop right now and contemplate a time in your life when you felt you were at rock bottom. Where are you now and how has this experience helped you grow? What have you learned from these setbacks? How have they made you stronger, more empathetic, and more trusting that there is hope - even in the most challenging circumstances?
Two of the most powerful practices I know of for boosting the feelings of appreciation and gratitude are the practices of meditation and contemplation. For me, this is like calling “time out.” As a competitive athlete growing up, I learned that it was wise during certain times of play to simply stop, breathe, and evaluate the situation. Take time to step back, relax, regroup, and look at the big picture. Rather than plow through the condition like a bull with its head down, calm down. Center yourself. Inhale deeply and clear your head. Exhale slowly and release whatever is weighing you down. Relax for a moment. Remind yourself that you will get through this. Consider your options. Explore alternatives. Beware, be patient, and be wise.
Replace Grief and Grudges with Gratitude
Mindful leaders understand that forgiveness is a close cousin of gratitude. Holding grudges and the grief that comes with it does nothing but weigh us down. When we learn to let go of condemnation, criticism, and judgment of others and situations we don’t like we free ourselves. As I like to say, when we let go, we let flow. We see value in the lessons learned. We cannot change what others are experiencing with their energetic “vibes” but by changing our frequency we tune into life’s abundance and prosperity. We lighten up. We realize that beyond the drama there is peace. On the other side of the clouds, there is sunshine. It is always there. We just need to trust that through the darkness there is light.
I have been hurt deeply by many people I love. This leaves me with a choice. Do I cripple myself with grief or do I free myself with forgiveness? The choice is ours to make in any circumstance. Stop for a moment right now and ask yourself, what is weighing you down? Are you holding any grudges? Do you feel wronged by someone or something that disturbs your peace of mind? Now realize that it is not the other person or situation that is weighing you down. It is your perception of this person or circumstance that is weighing you down. Ask yourself, what might it feel like if I let this go? How might I feel if I took a deep breath and said to myself, “I am done with this? I choose to be free.”
Thanksgiving means Giving Thanks
During this season of Thanksgiving, make a commitment to yourself to give thanks – for the life you have including all its challenges, adversities, adversaries, and setbacks. Search for the silver linings and lessons in disguise. Trust that they are there, perhaps hidden behind clouds that you have generated in your own mind. Own the power you have within you to delete these negative thoughts and feelings. Wash them away with forgiveness and gratitude. Understand that this may not change the person who has hurt you, but it will change you. It will free you. And life will reward you for your honest and authentic love and forgiveness.
John J. Murphy is an award-winning author and the Founder (1988) and CEO of Venture Management Consultants, Inc., a firm specializing in transformational culture change, mindful leadership, Operational Excellence, and high-performance teamwork. Visit his website www.johnjmurphy.org for more information.