It is likely that all of us, at some point in our life, have experienced the Power of Gratitude. We felt an energy of appreciation so strong within us that, if only for a moment, we had no doubt we were connected with someone or something outside of our self. The experience of Gratitude causes our inner self and the outer experience we’re having with someone or something to reveal itself as One Thing. And, even though that feeling may not have lasted long, the memory of it—that clear awareness we’re not alone, isolated inside a physical body and separate from the rest of life—still remains within us because it is the Truth of who we are. We say we are One Life together, but without Gratitude for the Life within us and the Life around us, we are unable to experience the fullness of that Oneness.

In A Course of Love we read, “The world does not exist apart from you, and so you must realize your compassionate connection.” Gratitude helps us to realize our compassionate connection with all that lives. How? Gratitude makes Its home in our heart. It’s been said that if we want know It’s there: “Take a deep breath, listen to your heart. It feels like having a hug from the inside.” The Gratitude in our heart connects us with the world because It bypasses the judgments of the mind that so often keep us from appreciating the world and wanting to give it a hug. Gratitude gives us a loving, open-hearted interest in others. We care that they are there! And, in those moments, It dissolves our sense of separation. We love others as our Self because we realize in those gracious moments that we share the same Life. There is Joy in the conscious connection Gratitude causes us to experience. And, in that Joy we discover more and more in the world to be grateful for.

The prolific writer and Benedictine Monk, David Steindl-Rast, wrote in his book, Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer, “The root of joy is gratefulness. It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” Gratitude is the key to our soul. It opens us to Life. It lets us experience Life in the way we are created to experience It because our soul is the very creation of the Joy, Love and Peace of God. Gratitude causes us to become aware of who we are and what Life is, and to feel joyful, loving and peaceful within It. Gratitude is a connective Force that, like Love, extends our Spirit into the world around us. When we are enthusiastic and passionate about Life, we feel so good we want more and more positive interaction with the world. We want to get out in it, to show up and feel a part of this human experience we’re all having. When we live in Gratitude, we wake up and feel like that moment is the most precious gift we’ve ever been given. And it is…every time. Waking up never gets old!

If living in Gratitude and appreciation can do so much to enrich our life, and if we’ve all felt Its powerful connective energy within us, we may wonder why we don’t choose to feel It more often. Sometimes it’s lack of appreciation for our differences and diversity, even within our own family. Sometimes it’s ingratitude for the way we believe life is treating us. But, most often lack of appreciation and ingratitude are habits. We are so pre-occupied thinking about the things we don’t like, the people, conditions and situations we don’t appreciate, and we are so full of negative images in our mind and negative energy in our body, we don’t even consider Gratitude for our life an option.

Whether the election result was an “OMG” or “WTF” experience for us, it’s time for us to begin to heal together, to stop complaining about one another and choose to feel the Gratitude, for our country and everyone in it, that will improve our collective environment. Abraham-Hicks tells us, “Most people don’t realize that as they continue to find things to complain about, they disallow their own physical well-being. Many do not realize that before they were complaining about an aching body or a chronic disease, they were complaining about many other things first. It doesn’t matter if the object of your complaint is about someone you are angry with, behavior in others you believe is wrong, or something wrong with your own physical body, complaining is complaining and it disallows improvement.” We can’t complain about our life and improve our life at the same time.

Gratitude overrides arrogance, self righteousness, resentment, and blame, and fills us with happy enthusiasm. We’re filled with hope for a better future, and grateful for each moment as it unfolds from our happy heart. Our mind becomes full of positive images and our body becomes full of positive energy that causes us to improve physically, mentally and emotionally. As we improve within us, we become part of the solution for improvements in the world. Gratitude is transformative. When we feel It, the world changes before our eyes because we see the world differently. When our heart is full of Gratitude, our mind naturally gravitates to thoughts that become words and inspire actions that reveal our compassionate connection with all of life. We begin to notice there is so much more about us and the world around us to be thankful for than we’d imagined before.

Every living being, with perhaps the only exception being human beings, is in love with its own life. Where in Nature, besides in human nature, does creation complain about being created? Of the animals of our planet, Abraham-Hicks tells us, “They focus in the moment. They are eternally looking for the positive aspects, and they are gloriously oozing positive emotion, which adds to the balance of your Universe.” For example, a gazelle doesn’t go around complaining that a cheetah was created to run faster than it can and has an appetite for gazelles. When it’s among its herd, it peacefully grazes, and moves with strength and playfulness. It enjoys its “gazelleness,” and even without a mirror it seems to appreciate the beauty of its own life. How many of us ooze with positive emotion because we’re full of appreciation for the beauty of our own life? How often do we look for positive aspects about self and others? How often, instead, do we spend time worrying that something, like a virus, can outrun us and is out to get us?

We live in such fear for our life that we don’t enjoy living our life. And if we’re not enjoying our life, what are we protecting? Complaining is born of the fear we are powerless over how we experience life. It doesn’t matter what our complaint is about, and it doesn’t matter what our fear is about, fear is fear and it disallows improvement. The beautiful Persian Poet, Hafez, wrote “Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I would like to see you living in better conditions.” Because we are spiritual-vibrational energy beings, we create the conditions we live in. In each moment we’re “oozing” something with our thoughts and emotions. Gratitude, and a peaceful trust in Life, causes us to ooze positive emotion. It allows our true nature to pour through us and into the outer experiences of our life. One of the early New Thought teachers and writers, Florence Scovel Shinn, wrote “Gratitude is the law of increase, and complaint is the law of decrease. The game of life is a game of boomerangs. Our thoughts, deeds and words return to us sooner or later with astounding accuracy.” What we put out, we get back, because what we put out is what we attract. Whatever we give our full attention to, whatever energy we let fill our emotions, whatever it is, we’re full of it. And “it” attracts our experiences to us. Whatever we’re full of oozes from within us and into our life as people, conditions and situations we feel grateful or ungrateful for. If we’re not experiencing a life we appreciate outside of us, it’s because we are full of ingratitude inside of us. And, likewise, if we’re experiencing a life we’re grateful for on the outside, it is because we’re full of gratitude inside.

If you peel away all the layers of an onion, at the center you will find emptiness. Peel away all the layers of a human being, and at the center you will find the seed of God. Ram Dass wrote, “Emptiness is not really empty. Emptiness is full of everything. The everything just isn’t manifest.” Each of us is a walking, talking, vibrationally manifesting being with unlimited potential for life expression at the center of our soul. Within us is a space that is untouched and unlimited by the world. We are full of Divine potential because God created us to grow, extend and expand the Universe! If we don’t like what we’re manifesting as the condition of our body, our interactions with others, or our experiences of abundance, and we’d like to make some changes rather than settling for a life we don’t appreciate, we need to peel away, every day, those false beliefs that cover the spaciousness within us and keep us small and fearful. Gratitude is an excellent peeling tool that will help us find that unlimited, unmanifested place of Joy, Peace and Love within us. The seed of God is right where it was placed in the beginning, at the center of each of us. If we’re willing to peel away all we’ve come to know in this world that isn’t so about self and life, we’ll discover there is nothing that we can’t be, see, do, have, experience, and express. Because when it comes to the “emptiness that is everything,” we’re full of It!