How high on the levels of gratitude have you gone?  

Gratitude is not a one-trick pony.  It’s got levels. The easy level is the most common one.  But the next-level gratitude can create miracles. 

I’d even say that gratitude is more than just an attitude; it’s a revolutionary energy – one that stands in the face of the “poor me” culture and can even make us co-creators with God.  Would you like to tap new levels of creative power just by expanding how you feel Gratitude? Read on…

Most of us have only tapped into the most common form of Gratitude, that basic feeling of acknowledging what we have. But did you know that form of Gratitude is the least powerful? Today I want to share how to “uplevel” your Gratitude and get more from each moment of what can sometimes be a messy, beautiful life.

Level One: “Thank You” Gratitude

We all have at least one nice thing in our life that makes us feel grateful. This Gratitude for the good things is like a simple polite thank you.  This form of Gratitude is easy. It’s attached to the idea of what we have and what we have-not. It’s a popular type of gratitude. It’s easy to make a list of what we’re grateful for at this level.  We can even post daily on Facebook as part of a Thanksgiving ritual. It’s good stuff and daily practice with this is good for the soul.

Level One Thanksgiving-type gratitude says: “Thank you for giving us so much good stuff. We are grateful that we didn’t get the short end of the stick like those people over there. Please give the poor people more stuff.” 

We feel we are helping the poor people by praying that they get more stuff, too. We may even feel like this practice of Gratitude is an insurance policy; if we express this level of Gratitude on a regular basis, we’ll keep the stream of good stuff going. Much like children we are taught to say, “Thank You,” and so we do. That is, when we remember. Or on a holiday. Or when we catch the eye of someone “less fortunate.”

This form of Gratitude is a kindly intentioned thought, but a limited perspective. This form of Gratitude creates the reality that we are separate. It sometimes suggests that only the caprice of a changeable, parent-like god makes us “privileged.”

Thankfully, expressing this level of Gratitude does raise our frequency. It puts us in a better place – more aligned with love and open to blessings.  But there’s more….

Level Two: Ecstatic Gratitude

When we open up to the Mystery all around, we take the power of Gratitude up a notch. We stand in ecstatic awe of the sunrise, the sunset, a newborn baby’s sweet face, and we are overcome with Gratitude. We allow the Mystery to wash over us, the palpable huge feeling of Awe, the warm tickling feeling of joy that such exquisite beauty exists. 

This gratitude is an immersive ecstatic experience, rather than a conjured “thank you.” 

We feel honored to be here to witness this beauty. We feel grateful to just be here, this moment, in this time.

This Gratitude is not a reasoned one nor a product of negotiation. The thinking brain is washed clean by this experience, giving up on understanding. It is the awe-struck child inside who feels this Gratitude and who surrenders into it.  This Gratitude washes over us, unbidden. But we can welcome it, be available to it, and allow it to move us.

With this Gratitude, we open to the Grace of the natural world, the soft quiet guidance and wisdom that arises from moments of true appreciation. When we slow down and breathe into it, without resisting the big feelings that come with it, we may make enough room to have a direct encounter with the Magic of Creation.

In the light of this Gratitude, we may feel the Oneness of all people, all things, and have a glimpse of the inexorable beauty and power we will never understand but can forever ponder and appreciate. This form of Gratitude supports the reality that we are all small beautiful pieces of an elaborate and gorgeous puzzle together – people, planet, and happenings. It opens us to Magic, Mystery, and Love.  Yes, this is magical, and yet… there’s an even more advanced level of Gratitude.

Level Three: Co-Creator’s Gratitude

The third level of Gratitude asks us to look within to our own learning, growth, and evolution. What’s so tricky about that? Well, this requires feeling gratitude for the difficulties, the challenges, and even the tragedies that bring us to that growth and learning. We stand in Gratitude for the moments where Life taught us a valuable lesson through a shocking, uncontrollable, and even deeply painful experience.

This is the least popular, and most powerful, form of Gratitude.

I’d dare to say, at our deepest levels we are souls aching to grow, to learn, and to experience all of life. Despite our brain’s protestations to the contrary, our souls stand in deep gratitude even for the suffering that grows us, stretches us, and develops us in the overall direction of Love.

Oh yeah, it’s not an easy one. It’s a process to reach this form of Big Picture Gratitude and it rarely comes in a hurry. Teachings about the seven stages of grief show us the pathway that our systems will often take to move through the painful experience of trauma to “acceptance” which, I think, is just an understated form of Gratitude.

This third level of Gratitude brings freedom, power, and access to collaborate with God. It frees us from resentment, judgment, and the false idea that “bad things shouldn’t happen to good people.” It empowers us to release the “poor me” story that keeps us distracted from continuing to actively participate in life.

Most powerfully, this form of Gratitude takes the Creator’s side and perspective.

The first level of Gratitude views the world as “me vs them”. The second level of Gratitude allows us to see the “all people are one” perspective. But this third level is different still; it takes the perspective of the soul. It stands side-by-side with the puzzle-maker and appreciates the beauty of how all of life fits together, piece by piece. It even takes some ownership and stewardship of the process, allowing us to shift the picture from victim to participant, student, and maybe even co-creator. 

It allows us to rewrite the story as one whose soul chose to experience those difficulties so we could learn.

In this perspective, tough experiences are painful, but valuable. These experiences are part of a huge tapestry that weaves us all together, one that we are all co-creating with the Creator in every moment.

There is so much compassion and honor here. It gives us permission to remove the thought that “bad things shouldn’t happen to good people” and approach with something more useful: “bad things happen, so what can I learn here?”

This form of Gratitude takes the Soul’s perspective – God’s own perspective – one in which all is Love, all is Beauty, and we are all together. In this way, this Gratitude opens the door to collaborating directly with the Creator as an ally, and no longer a victim. And from that place… I ask you – what would be possible?  Are you willing and ready to stand as a co-creator of your life?

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