Thankfulness is the ability to express appreciation in response to something that we've received.
Many of us have been taught as (and teach it to) kids when we're given something or are served. Thankfulness is a huge step in connecting our ability to appreciation with our ability to express through words and action. There is no doubt about how important expression of thankfulness is, however, contrary to popular belief, thankfulness is actually different from gratitude and gratefulness.
In short: Thankfulness is transactional. Gratitude is a transcendent state of being eternally appreciative. Gratefulness is the transmission of gratitude.
Gratitude is the attitude of satisfied appreciation. We each have the capacity to feel wholeheartedly satisfied and blessed regardless of circumstance, including tragedy and heartbreak.
We can connect our mind with our heart's fullness, when our minds are free of expectation, of requirements, of a limited idea, of scarcity. Gratitude is rooted in a deep-seated belief that Love is a limitless blessing that transcends time, space.
Gratefulness is the language--the expression, the transmission, recognition, voice and demonstration of being in a state of gratitude.
Gratefulness is the quality of surrendering to the transcendence of infinite capacity. It's a foreign and familiar appreciation for being both big and small at the same time. It's the language of the heart--the energy of connection, acceptance and Love.
It's often difficult to package "neatly" and to express fully because there is no exacting language to deliver the unfathomable depth of this aspect of Love's infinite force. Its magnitude truly does exist beyond measure, beyond words and in our ability to imagine it.
It's through the experience of recognizing and attempting to express it, that the connections between intention, beauty, value and sharing can truly be produced. Gratitude & Gratefulness are the source of true intimacy, unity and wholeness; the experience of seeing and being seen.
I know it may sound abstract, ethereal, cerebral, or maybe even paradoxical...BUT if you really sit with this message, it will resonate in your heart, because this message is delivered in the heart's language. It carries the energy, the light of hope and understanding that your heart understands--independent of how your mind reckons with it.
What does gratitude have to do with living Happily EVEN After?
It has SO MUCH to do with it! This attitude, of gratitude, gives us the ability to see life differently. It allows us to see beyond our limited mind, able to see value in everything: love & fear, joy & pain, giving & receiving, courage & vulnerability, triumphs & challenges, life & death, light & dark, universal & unique, the mindful & mindless, the composed & the raw.
Gratitude is ultimately the source of wholeness--how we are both big & small, giver & recipient of our attitude & efforts, infinitely connected, and how we work to accept ourselves as we do each other. It is the birthplace of eternity, empathy and connection.
It helps us to let go of the idea that there are "good" and "bad," and that there are simply choices and changes.
Without gratitude, can there really be meaningful satisfaction toward the fullness of life and the possibility of deeply connected relationships?
How can I build my gratitude muscle?
We can practice asking ourselves more frequently...
What is the "tiniest" experience, growth, opportunities, and connections that I can see and focus on right now?
Research shows that the capacity to feel joy, hope and love increases with the willingness to see all of ourselves and each other with appreciation instead of judgment.