The Sweet Strawberry of Gratitude – By Doug Webb
What IS Gratitude?
The dictionary defines gratitude as a “feeling of thankful appreciation for favors or benefits received; warm, appreciative response to kindness,” which is a little like describing a strawberry as being strawberry-like. Until you actually taste a strawberry, you can’t grasp what it is really like. Similarly, gratitude is a feeling that wells from the heart into consciousness, not something we do automatically because someone gave us something, or did something for us.
We are often reminded to be thankful and polite when we are young as a training in diplomacy: We are taught that if we are not nice to others, then they may not continue being nice to us. And we grow up to notice who is polite and who is not.
Gratitude goes much further than polite appreciation or automatic Thank-yous.
Gratitude is a vibrational alignment.
By this, I mean that when we feel truly grateful, we have an opening in the heart with which we feel an upwelling of love, sometimes with a high state of emotional response, and tears may come. We feel alive and there is a particular flavor that we notice, one that is associated with this feeling, and no other. One sign is that we often want to throw our arms around the person responsible for our receiving, or do something big in return.
And as an adjunct to gratitude, we also have to be able to truly receive.
I always thought I knew how to be grateful. And like many, I knew that Gratitude was a necessary component to my growth. It is a way to appreciate and attract more of what you are grateful for, and to come into like vibration with the Divine, and with the wealth and freedom we all seek.
I have since learned more about gratitude and I would like to share it with you.
There are several levels of gratitude.
1. We begin to notice and appreciate the amount of effort it takes to bring anything into our life.
Often, we have thoughts about gifts and things we are given. We don’t generally think of everyday things like electricity or our cars as something to be grateful for. Sometimes we are even slightly suspicious of things we are given, as if the giver is manipulating us. This may be true in some cases, but even when it is, we don’t have to lower our own vibration to the point of discomfort. Sometimes freedom is being able to accept without being drawn into a quid pro quo.
For the most part, we overlook the effort it took to give even a vase of flowers. Just think, the farmer has to clear land, buy seeds, plant, cultivate, grow and harvest, then transport them to the store, which takes a lot of paperwork and salesmanship. Then you have to get a job, work, get paid, buy a car, drive to the store, buy the flowers,, drive to the girlfriend’s house and deliver them. If you thought of all that work, you probably would just call FTD, but still, she may or may not be aware of how much it takes for even the smallest thing to get done.
So level one is beginning to notice just how much effort is put into the smallest gift. It’s a little like picking up a strawberry and smelling it, that enticing aroma……
2. Feeling the effort.
When we go beyond the noticing of effort into feeling it, then we have brought an abstract thought into the body, into reality, and we can feel the import of it. This activity opens the gates of our being and allows a connection with the giver, and a melting of separation. That’s where the throwing-my-arms-around-you part comes in.
Like describing a strawberry, this has to be felt to be believed.
― William Arthur Ward
When we feel true gratitude, we feel blessed in a deep way. Our natural response is to gush with thanks and tearful appreciation, and I say “Go with that feeling.” Sometimes it may be over-the-top, but if at all possible. this response is what makes the giver have joy. After all, true joy in life is in the giving. When you know, by feeling-response, that you have touched, really touched, someone; then you are in one of the greatest experiences that life can offer.
Your feelings can overflow their habitual bounds, and this is the basis of true communication. Most of the time, we think we are communicating with others when we are talking, or singing, or dancing. But true communication is communion in feeling. When we feel something together, we create a bond, a deeper love, a friendship in the real sense of the word, and giving and receiving with Gratitude is the key.
You see, we can receive in Gratitude, but we can also give with Gratitude.
When this happens, both giver and receiver grow. They grow internally and together, and the world vibration rises. Then we are sharing that wonderful and unique strawberry taste.
4. Re-connecting with a state of love.
When you get here, beyond the level of overflowing of feeling, you get to a state in which you become willing to do just about anything for the person who you feel gratitude for. This is a state of deep love and connection.
This love may be for people, animals, nature, life, anything, It may be for your boss, or someone at work or in your life who does you a kindness, and while you may not be able to say “I love you,” you feel the free willingness to do something for that person. This is because true Gratitude has a natural power that is easily focused, and has an ease of use that is liberated.
If you feel that you ‘have to’ do something to say thank you, then you are not in true Gratitude. If the thank-you gift or other response feels too small by a long shot, then you are getting closer. If you overwhelm the giver with your response, and you don’t even notice that you had any effort on your part, then you really have something going.
5. Communion and Oneness. By this point, you feel so much communion with the other person that you anticipate their needs and fill them as easily as water.
It’s like when two of us both bite into a really ripe, perfect strawberry at the same time and we share that moment of recognition, no words are spoken, just that look and “Mmmm.” Communion in shared experience, and no matter who the other is at the time, there is love right there. And if that someone gives you a gift and you feel the gift in true receiving, and they feel the gift in true giving, then a link is formed and it becomes much easier to give and receive along that circuit.
You may shovel their walk or pay a bill that is due, or give support before they even ask, you become so sensitive to the person’s needs that you flow into the gap and it is natural to just do things for them. This is communion, or becoming one with another, as if you are doing it for yourself. Because, really, you are.
When we talk about vibrational alignment, it is like two guitar strings being tuned. If they are not in tune, and you sound them both, the two different tones form a third wave-form sound that is not that pleasant. But then you turn the tuning peg, and the strings come into resonance with each other and the sound turns sweet. This is similar to true Gratitude, in that when we feel beyond the thing given, we find a resonance with the giver and the receiver that is the gift of love itself sounding in two hearts and making them one.
As mentioned above, there is another facet of Gratitude; receiving.
I know many people who have a problem receiving gifts or recognition or love. Sometimes receiving can feel like you are being put on the spot unexpectedly, and it does put pressure on the liking of the gift being received.
What do you do if someone gives you something you simply hate?
Look past the object to the intent.
It’s like someone who cracks a joke you don’t think is funny, sometimes you have to recognize that they are just trying to be friendly. The reaching out is what is important, otherwise we would all be what so many are, separate individuals with no warmth for each other. That is like living a life based on fear, fear that someone wants something from you that you may not have to give, or you don’t want to give.
This is why having a living well of gratitude in your life is so very important. If you feel that you have no resources, or nothing to give, due to a shortage of receiving, then you will be reluctant to give back when friendly overtures are made. But if you take a few moments every day to really feel all that you are given, both directly and indirectly, then you will notice an overflow of abundance that seemed absent before.
And…..it is important that all gifts come not from you, but through you.
We don’t ever really own anything, not our goods, not our feelings, not our thoughts, not our identity, and certainly not our love. Love is only love when it is given.
LOVE IS ONLY LOVE WHEN IT IS GIVEN.
All things physical, mental, spiritual in our lives are only passing through, and trying to hold them is like trying to hold the wind. So when someone gives to you, recognize the unique moment in time and space that you have the opportunity to share, and feel the gratitude that brings life alive.