I have noticed in observing energy for some time that there is a large difference between people who regularly express gratitude and those who do not.
If we assume that people and the world owe us something, or we are unable or unwilling to express gratitude, we remain in a state of contraction.
If we express gratitude and are thankful for the people and the world around us, we become more open and expansive.
When we are more open and expansive, people generally like us better. Our lives generally go better. If you have heard someone say “oh, that person has negative energy”, or everyone at the office dislikes one person and they can’t figure out why, it can be for a lot of reasons. But chances are that person doesn’t express gratitude for the people around them.
For example, I express real gratitude to the people bagging my groceries and checking me out in lines. Some are in zombie mode (understandable to anyone who has worked retail), but others genuinely appreciate it, and have even done things like express a genuine smile, offer me free stuff (not the point here, but it happens), to “forgetting” to swipe through an item (again, not the point here), to offering me other services or simply a friendly chat.
We all need community, we all need friends and loved ones. We also all need teachers, guides, helpers, and associates of varying sorts.
When we do not express gratitude, it can be due to entitlement (feeling owed something by people and the world) but generally it has more with being closed off.
If we are closed off we have barricaded and isolated ourselves. We are alone. We no longer learn, or exchange energy with the world around us. We cannot grow, prosper, or really be at peace. Energetically, being closed off means that there is a great deal of fear and a feeling that you are totally and completely alone (even in a crowd, even among others).
Our hearts cannot remain open or express gratitude if we are closed off. We often do this as a protective mechanism, but that protective mechanism being there means that we perceive there is no connection to the people and the world around us, and that we cannot love and be loved to the extent we could if it were open.
Being open does not mean having no boundaries, or letting people walk all over you. Being open to new ideas, new thoughts, and exchange of energy with others is a beautiful thing. We can choose to learn from one another, open to one another.
We can express gratitude for one another.
When we express gratitude we are coming from a higher place. A place beyond trauma, fear, and isolation. We are choosing to open ourselves up. We are choosing to move beyond our own rugged individualism, our own basic needs and thoughts… and recognizing another for their contribution to our world.
When we express gratitude we move beyond that illusory isolated aspect of ourselves and recognize that we are a part of a community, a world.
Expressing gratitude can be extremely simple. It can be saying “thank you” to people who have provided assistance to you, or a new way of thinking to you, or who have listened to or expressed caring in some way for you. We can say “thank you” to friends, family, loved ones, teachers, acquaintances, grocery store clerks, and so forth.
We can also energetically stay open, and realize that despite the world sometimes seeming like it is cold, violent, brutal, and “every man for himself” that we can choose to transcend that. We can make the conscious choice to stay open to the good of the world, to the good of the people in it. We can also realize that the “bad” of the world, and the “bad people” can also allow for us to express gratitude in a different way.
We can express gratitude for those who have helped us, those who are making the world a better place, those who show us who we do not want to be, those who show us who we aspire to be, those who teach us how we can be more open, and those who are so enveloped in chaos and isolation that they are incapable of seeing beyond their own needs.
This is done in a way that is not smug, or judgmental, or self-satisfactory, but in true and genuine appreciation. We can appreciate our ability to critically think, for example, by realizing that not many people do and also realizing those who can. Both are equally important, and both can be honored and thanked.
We can realize by observing the energy of those who regularly express gratitude for their lives and the people in it how the people, and the world, around them react. And we can do the same for those incapable, unable, or unwilling to do so.
I have noticed energetically that those who do not express gratitude are often disliked, seen as obnoxious or as someone who we just have to endure until they go somewhere else, and have low, dark, or cloudy energy that will make the person interacting with them feel heavy. People who express gratitude regularly are open, energetic, vivacious, and give you an uplifting feeling to be around.
We can look at the violence of the world, the racism, the xenophobia, the classism, the stupidity, the materialism, the illusion(s) (you get my point, I likely forgot a few), and understand how much fear there is there. How much people protect themselves, divert themselves, and struggle. We can choose to look at people on an individual basis and realize that this energy didn’t come from nowhere– that we are all shaped by trauma, emotions, and beliefs that were passed down to us.
We can realize that people are who they are, and feel compassion for the fact that individual people struggle. That violence, hatred, and so forth create barriers to feeling any sort of love and connectedness. Someone who has hatred in their heart cannot have love or gratitude. And we can express gratitude for them showing us how deeply and fiercely we need to love, how much we need to express gratitude to one another. Each one of us that makes the choice to be in that state of love, to be in that state of gratitude, allows for the world to be a better place.
I do realize that that sounds idyllic, or hippie-esque, but it is true. If we are able to express gratitude to the world, to one another, we can be more loving. More loving to ourselves. More loving to one another. More understanding of one another… and we can extend this to even the most violent and monstrous individuals in our world.
We can understand who someone is, why they got to be that way, what they must struggle with– the forces that have shaped them and created them. And we can express gratitude that they have shown us those qualities (violence, hatred, and so forth) in our own hearts… what we need to personally work on, basically. We can realize that some of these people are catalysts– that they show how far as a culture or as individuals we need to go to be more loving to ourselves and toward others in this world.
And we can express gratitude for those in our lives that choose to act differently, those in this world that are trying to make this world a more peaceful and righteous place through their actions.
We can step away from our hypercritical, judgmental self, the one that wants to break everyone and everything down for little reason, and decide to come from a place of understanding. This is not to say that we should not critically think, but in a world that is filled with comment threads and “keyboard warriors” and gossip columns looking to create animosity and hatred, we can choose to be and act differently.
We can realize that people are doing the best they can with the patterns and beliefs and traumas they have experienced (or have been given to them). We can realize that we can deal with our own hatred and anger inwardly (or creatively, making good use of it) instead of adding to a world filled with pain and suffering and people looking to vent it towards anyone or anything (typically a “hot topic” of the week, celebrities, politics, and so forth)
We get so caught up in ourselves, and a simple act of expressing gratitude can open us up to one another, can allow for us to make someone’s day, and can allow for us to become more loving, less isolated, and more appreciative of the world around us. It can allow for us to be “lighter”, and over time this allows for us to truly see the beauty of the world and the people in it, and to feel connected, more peaceful, more open, and more grateful for our lives, people, and the world as a whole.
Expressing gratitude can be simple. It can be saying “thank you”, it can also be energetically staying in a place of gratitude and thanks for the people who help you or help the world. It can be felt, even if it is not outwardly said… but saying “thanks” out loud is always good too.
Mary Mueller Shutan is a spiritual healer, teacher, and author of several books expressing a pragmatic approach to spiritual awakening and working with psychic abilities. You can learn more in her book, Managing Psychic Abilities:A Real World Guide for the Highly Sensitive Person.