I lied earlier when I said this wasn’t going to be woo woo, it is a little woo woo. It’s hard to talk about an imaginary force that makes life worth living without being a tad woo woo. But I’ve gotten over it. In fact, most of life is pretty woo woo. Think about it, you wake up one day to two people you’ve never met before who then (attempt) to raise you on a rock circling a giant, glowing ball of gas which is actually, kind of, what gave you your life. Is that not woo woo? Life IS woo woo. It’s coo coo bananas. It’s nuts. And if you look close enough and focus, it’s also incredibly, beautifully wonderful.
So let’s dive in, you know why you’re here! (Just kidding - none of us do.)
the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
Until recently this word brought up some weird feels for me. After reading The Secret (a self-helpy/law of attraction book by Rhonda Byrne) as a young 20 something year old, I dipped my toe into becoming a woo woo gratitude person with mood boards and bucket lists and mantras. This went on for a series of days or weeks, who knows, but none of my goals manifested. I didn’t become a millionaire, or marry Paul Rudd, or move to England all expenses paid (ya know, by the Universe, who according to The Secret was supposed to be making my dreams come true by me merely wanting them). And so I was like, well, fuck gratitude then. And I wrote it off as woo woo and fake, and that people who practiced gratitude were liars because deep down everyone is kind of miserable.
I should mention back in my “Secret” days I was binge drinking, snorting rails of cocaine, and was in the most dysfunctional relationship I’ve been in to date. It seems now I was the miserable one, not everyone else. I really did want to be happier and more grateful, but honestly, how could I be when I was drowning in the bowels of my rock bottom? It felt disingenuous to be grateful, and that’s because it was. I was addicted, angry, and hurting, and I was using gratitude as some sort of means to justify my situation without real meaningful change/action on my part. (For instance, I could be grateful for alcohol, but that didn’t make it unproblematic in my life.) I needed to get honest with myself and seek help, mantras alone were never going to save me.
I’m fortunate, by some grace of will and luck, I started cleaning up my life up and doing away with what wasn’t working; the booze, the cocaine, and Richie* (which didn’t happen all at once or in that order). It took some years for me to fully come out of the hellscape I created, and along the way I learned to look closer at everything, including within, and where I could stand to be a little more grateful. I am actually an incredibly fortunate person with many privileges, but my internal dialogue was reading the wrong script. Gratitude offers you a new script, or new lens, through which you can view life, but first you must get really honest about what your situation is. Gratitude is not a means to an end. I realize now my intentions were all wrong in the beginning. I was wanting all the rewards of gratitude without actually, truly being grateful for anything. But beyond gratitude, what I was really lacking was honesty. Get honest first, and gratitude will usually follow suit.
*names have been changed.
Gratitude isn’t a genie that grants you wishes (now that would be woo woo af). Gratitude is really just a state of mind. It’s not something you use in order to get something else. It’s just a place in your head you can visit as often or as little as you like, but the more you go there the more you get used to going there, hence allowing it to become a more natural way of seeing things. After much, much mental visiting you begin to realize life is full of nuance and wonder, and that there is never ever just one way to look at something. You begin to look at your whole life differently, even your past shifts with this new awareness. People I had once coined as evil villains became human again; humans with very real problems of their own who probably also needed help. And when I looked even closer, I saw I too had been a villain (aka a human who needed help).
So yeah. Gratitude is magic because it can change your entire way of looking at, thus existing within, the cosmos. And yet, it’s also just this super practical thing you can explore on your own terms. And please take my advice, don’t do it to become rich or marry Paul Rudd like I had done. Do it because it feels good to believe that the world isn’t out to get you, not anymore than it is anyone else.
The gratitude I practice teaches us it’s okay to be where we’re at, while also priming us for receiving. And you get to create your very own gratitude practice, too. It can be as woo woo or dull as you wish! So open up baby, there is a wellspring of gifts the Universe can unload on you (with some work, dedication, and attention of course!)
XO have a lovely day.