Finding Gratefulness In the Midst of the Ego
Learning to Embody the Phrase:
This two word phrase is possibly one of the most overlooked, under-appreciated, and yet most powerful known to all of human language.
It has the ability to create enormous smiles, fulfill souls, deepen connectedness to all things, and provide GRATITUDE for everything that has manifested in our lives through our desires.
It is a phrase so overused in common interactions, we sometimes forget what it means. Our intention sometimes gets lost in the phrase itself. And on the contrary it is not used nearly enough.
What do I mean by this?…
Well, we all have hurried days of running errands or simply just moving about our everyday lives. Our days are filled with numerous tasks that may keep us blinded to the bigger picture…that life is but a dream, and not one to be taken for granted.
How many times do we say thank you (and mean it) at a coffee shop drive thru? Or the checkout line at the market? Or when grabbing our food at the cafeteria counter? Or when someone opens a door for us? Or…the list is HUGE!
Well, probably not often…think about when your day started all the way to this present moment reading this article.
How many times did you say it without even realizing you did or without feeling its true power and grace?
I can tell you I have been practicing the art of mindfulness for some time now and even I get caught up in the moment.
We’ve been so ingrained to say thank you after receiving something, that the true meaning gets lost in the ether.
How did this ever come to be?…
I’ve got two simple reasons for ya…
Programming and Habit Formations
Reason #1 Programming and Habit Formations:
From day one, our parents are doing their best to teach us right from wrong and how to be polite, right? Or at least I hope ;).
As a toddler, we are constantly reminded to say thank you and scolded when we don’t. We are programmed to respond in this manner because it is the ‘right’ thing to do. It’s been passed on from generation to generation.
At holiday functions, I remember the fear of not saying thank you and what that would result in.
I was so fixated on saying thank you after receiving a present, that I lost focus on the present itself or the phrase I was uttering. I only knew that if I did not say thank you, I was in deep shit!
Now this is not to say that telling your children to say thank you over and over is a bad thing. That is not what I am getting at.
My point is this…
More emphasis needs to be placed on WHY we are saying thank you. Emphasis needs to land on the MEANING behind the phrase “Thank you!”
I bet if you asked me at age 5 why I say thank you after receiving something, I would respond with “Because I am supposed to.” or “Because it’s the right thing to do.” No offense to all you parents trying to teach your kids manners! Just an objective opinion as to why we have lost touch with its meaning over the years.
If more emphasis and teaching went into WHY we say it as opposed to WHEN we say it, then the phrase should surface in the appropriate scenario anyway and if it doesn’t, it would be a perfect teachable moment.
Our brains are easily programmable but having an understanding of something goes further in its merit.
Now of course a 3 year old won’t understand the meaning just yet but we should still try to instill in some way as to why we respond with such beautiful words.
Reason #2 The Ego:
The Ego tends to operate as the driver in the majority of people’s lives, whether we like to admit it or not.
I think the path to happiness and true inner peace is eliminating the Ego as best as possible without losing our minds in the process. But sometimes losing our minds is the only option for true detachment from it’s grip.
With that being said, we must first define the Ego…
My understanding of the Ego comes from many sources but has one major component…that we are always in LACK of something.
Major components of the Ego which can be intermingled:
- Identity crisis – negative emotions, image, worth, class, rank, etc.
- Ownership – mine vs. ours
- Survival – kill or be killed
- Hate – hostility, anger, resentment
- Operating in the past or future
Here is a good article describing the seven chief character flaws of the Ego. The concept of the Ego is very in-depth and we have revolved around it’s limitations for thousands of years, hence the distortions present in our society as a whole.
Moving forward, in order to know something however, we must understand the Ego’s opposite…unconditional love or Godliness.
Major components of Unconditional Love:
- No specific identity – unlimited consciousness/awareness
- Universal Love
- Operating in the present
Now that we have a brief understanding of the Ego, we can talk about how the Ego takes us away from gratefulness. And how we lose touch with truly meaning the phrase, “thank you.”
To be grateful is to be divinely present to all that is and having gratitude for what it provides…
meaning…no matter what the situation is, as ugly or as dark as it may seem, ultimately we should be grateful.
Because every situation we come in contact with has been attracted by what we give off. We should be grateful for the Universe or God in responding to our cry for help.
“In the magical Universe, there are no coincidences and there are no accidents. Nothing happens unless something wills it to happen.” – William S. Burroughs (writer & poet, 1914-1997)
We may not think a bad car accident or a delayed flight before a vacation as an answer to our cries, but IT IS. It is an answer for internal energies crying for an end to our suffering. And suffering exists on many levels.
Everything is intended for a purpose to remind us of what we are missing or not being present with. Most often, harsh circumstances bring us closer together and remind us of the universal law of love and connectedness, don’t they?
These “bad” moments immediately bring into focus, the NOW. The Here and Now. It may have taken a train wreck to make it happen, but it worked.
The more we tend to live in the past or future, the more our energy attracts the same feelings or emotions.
“When you are depressed, you are living in the past. When you are anxious, you are living in the future. When you are at peace, you are living in the present.” – Lao Tzu
…and when we operate in the Ego we tend to think in terms of past or future, losing all sight of the NOW. We tend to think of what we need in the future (as opposed to what we have in the now) or what we lost in the past (as opposed to what we gained in the now).
When we say thank you to someone for a service or gift, whatever it may be, we should be present in that moment. We should be 100% in tune with that moment in pure gratitude. Looking the person in the eyes and letting them feel our presence.
But often we are not. The Ego takes control and we start to wander into the neediness of what’s next. What is lacking now that I should try to obtain? What do I need moving forward to make me content or happy?
As the Ego dictates your thoughts, someone holds the door for you at the post office, you say thank you but your mind may be thinking “I hope the line isn’t long or I hope this doesn’t take forever.”
We all do it. We’re all guilty.
The key is to NOTICE when you do it so you can instantly counteract it in that moment.
The Ego is the same reason some parents are so strict with their kids in saying thank you. They are afraid of what other relatives or people might think of their child if they don’t say it right away. This is all the identity at play. What will others think of me? What will they think of my child? What will they think of my raising my child?
Eliminate the Ego and replace it with Unconditional Love as your foundation. The nurtured response will come. Except this time it will come with a purpose and genuine meaning.
How can I change and find gratefulness in it’s complete form?…
I think the best practice in finding gratefulness is through mindfulness – the art of being present as often as possible.
Knocking yourself out of the sleep walking state of past and future. And ultimately knowing everything you see and touch is for you to experience for free!
This book tells of the POWER that gratitude plays in our everyday lives and how the Universe absolutely loves when we are grateful as conscious beings.
Throughout my day, I try my hardest to be grateful for all that is around me exactly as it is. All the while, knowing with my intention, persistence, and attitude, I can change any circumstance for the better with the power of gratitude.
Here are some simple tips to re-program your mind or just add gratefulness to your day:
- Wake up each day being grateful for what you have. The first thing you should do in the morning before you rise out of bed is thank God, the Universe, Mother Nature, the Four Winds, or whatever you believe in for all that you have. Even atheists can thank the energy that brought them here. Do not focus on what you don’t have!
- Before you eat a meal, say thank you! That meal took plenty of time and effort to get to your mouth. A lot of sacrifice and hard work went into it, literally.
- Before you drink anything, say thank you! We are made primarily of water and most substances we drink contain water. Where would you be if we had no more water? Be grateful!
- Make it a practice to be present when saying thank you! This is not easy because you’ll realize you say it much more than you think. Look whoever in the eyes and mean it!
- As you lay down to sleep, say thank you. Thank the Ether or Crom (if you’re Conan the Barbarian). Again, whatever and whoever. Just say thank you! Count your blessings and truly mean it. Don’t make it a chore. Have some passion behind it.
“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” – Willie Nelson
These are 5 simple ways to practice gratefulness and change your life ten fold. The more grateful you are, the more abundance will come. Try it out and see for yourself!
For more tips and practices, check out the book I mentioned above.
I hope this article has sparked a new understanding or remembrance of why we say “Thank you!”
THANK YOU for reading it! Thank you, thank you, thank you. From the bottom of my heart.
We are all here for a reason – be grateful for that reason and be grateful for every situation that comes along simply reminding you of what you already know :)
Peace, Light, & Love,
“Be grateful for what you have. Someone always has it worse than you.” – My Grandmother