Growing up in my family we rarely expressed gratitude to each other – or any other positive feelings for that matter. It was the old school of family relationships – children should be seen and not heard. Adults don’t share feelings with children. I’m sure we felt gratitude. I know I did. When I came home from school to find my new Brownie uniform with beanie and red plastic purse. When my mother didn’t yell at me for having a temper tantrum and slamming a door so hard the glass shattered. When she bought me a typewriter (yes, I am that old) the Christmas before I left for college. I know I probably thanked my mother in some way. Excitement for the uniform – a sheepish little smile for the smashed glass – a hug for my Christmas present. But I’m not sure any of those times really qualify as pure, unadulterated gratitude, laced as they were with the guilt, shame and a sense of unworthiness. Wouldn’t it have been nice if I hadn’t felt guilty that she spent money we didn’t have on things I wanted or that my mother’s forgiveness wasn’t about deserving, but simply that she loved and understood me. I could have enjoyed the thrill of pure unadulterated gratitude, which is just about the best feeling in the world.
That’s why it’s so great to discover that there is no statute of limitations on gratitude. Granted, sometimes the people we wanted to express gratitude to are long gone, as is my mother. But gratitude is really not for others. It is for ourselves. By not expressing gratitude, untainted by guilt, shame and unworthiness, we cheat ourselves of the joy of getting what we want.
So what if you missed the boat on gratitude in the past? Are you grateful now to know that? If not, ask yourself why? Let yourself know that given what you believed at the time and the circumstances, you did the very best you could. I have also found that it feels fantastic to think about the times in the past where I was less than grateful and “relive” them allowing myself to be grateful in the way I want today.
Most important, allow yourself to be grateful for everything you can. When I say allow, I mean that we don’t ever have to remember to be grateful or try to be grateful. We just will be because it is a natural response to the fulfillment of our desires, even when we didn’t even know we had them. By natural, I simply mean, that the feeling of gratitude, or what we have come to know as gratitude, arises unbidden in a rush of joyous freedom.
Have fun expressing your unadulterated gratitude.
Want to feel free to enjoy the gifts of life? Try an Option Method dialogue.