Not all gratitude is created equal. There’s the quick “thanks” we give to the checkout clerk or waitress as they do their high-risk job in a pandemic. Then there’s the often obligatory “thank you” we send to clients once a year. And, of course, there are the high expectations we place on getting together with family for a long weekend where we can (in theory) be grateful we are connected. But none of that is blackbelt gratitude, which is what is called for right now.
Has awareness we all are connected (even in our isolation), and everything is working for our good
Appreciates the “ordinaries” equally with the miracles
Applauds routine actions rather than exceptional effort
Recognizes how scarce appreciation is when we are surrounded by conflict, criticism, fear and doubt
We need the salve of gratitude to heal the wounds festering on our souls.
The Rituals of Gratitude
Rituals are not proof of true feeling. They can provide a container for the feeling to be expressed, but more often than not, more effort goes into the ritual than its intended purpose. The high-pressure expectations we have for brief togetherness can create more disappointments than heartwarming moments. This highlights how we have not been doing our blackbelt gratitude work all year, putting undue pressure on one day. It’s not too late.
When we choose to risk others’ wellbeing, so we can sit, unmasked together, and potentially endanger our more vulnerable family members, that is no act of gratitude. Gratitude lives in the present moment, whether we like it or not, and appreciates everything exactly as it is – even pandemics and isolation. Blackbelt gratitude does not practice denial.
Blackbelt Gratitude Does the Work
Many of us are trusting in God to protect us right now. The even more powerful faith is that God helps those who help themselves. Of course, we also don’t always know what is in our best interests. As a result, God’s protection can show up looking more like a curse than a blessing.
Blackbelt Gratitude Is Thankful For It All
It is thankful for the opportunity to build the muscle of growing our consciousness, and for seeing through the curses to the blessings.
Blackbelt Gratitude Does Not Whine
or express self-pity that things are not the way we wish they were. It knows it is stronger and far more resilient than any temporary situation.
Blackbelt Gratitude is Always Seeking
When we are always looking for every opportunity to express new appreciation and gratitude, our lives are more fulfilling, inspiring and joyful.
A friend who kept a gratitude journal for this reason recently confessed her growing boredom with the activity. As we discussed her gratitude practice, she realized she was focusing on things in her life that were readily obvious to her, and then repeating them, rather than looking for fresh ones. We agreed, that would be boring after a while.
I suggested a gratitude journal with prompts to help her break out of her rut.
Blackbelt Gratitude Is Constant Healing
Many have said that the most powerful prayer is the prayer that simply says, “Thank you.” So, let me pray with you:
Thank you for being in my life.
Thank you for your strength, support and advice.
Thank you for challenging my ideas and beliefs I have been holding onto and are limiting my growth.
Thank you for pushing me towards my full potential.
Thank you for irritating the places in me that need to be healed so I can be aware that they are still hurting me.
And, lastly, thank you for loving me and being connected to me in the midst of chaos and uncertainty.
I know you will protect me, and I will protect you. Together we are stronger, and can do the most important work of all – healing one another with the love that knows no distance.