I used to think that I am not grateful. I thought that there was something wrong with me since I didn’t immediately list out things that I was grateful for in any moment. I thought that because I was struggling or feeling depressed, I was not grateful. I thought “normal” people had something that enabled them to feel fuzzy warm feelings after filling up their gratitude journals while I struggled with feeling anything when I tried to write an entry.
It took me a while to understand that I wasn’t an UNGRATEFUL person. I took me a little longer to understand what gratitude actually was and when I experienced it.
Gratitude wasn’t the ability to list off things/people that were “in my life” and “mattered to me”. It also wasn’t an obligation to be expressed to another person at every chance.
Instead, gratitude was an experience within itself. It could be deeply experienced through awareness of the moment as it unfolded. The more present I became, I realized that I was grateful within the moments of life rather than as an afterthought. I was present in peoples’ presence and that was in itself an act of gratitude. As I became more present/grateful, the more people felt appreciated in my company. I didn’t even need to use words. It was in the quality of my presence.
For me, gratitude felt during an experience was much more satisfying than what was felt when listing off things in a gratitude journal. Gratitude was something that was experienced when I paused in a moment and took it in. That was gratitude. Being present was allowing gratitude to be experienced.
How I bring this into my yoga classes: I ask my yoga students to hold themselves and then take the moment to be held. That moment of experiencing their own embrace, the warmth of their hands, the strength in their arms, the beating in their chest, the awareness of the one who is in their embrace…that…that is real “gratituding”. They are getting to be present in their own company. They are getting to “experience” gratitude rather than “think” gratitude.