I’ve read that gratitude is important at least a dozen times. Each time I’d think to myself “Yeah, that sounds good – the world is great” and then keep on doing what I’ve always done. Then I’d read that gratitude is not simply a thought or a feeling but is an action. You’ve probably heard the same about gratitude or even about love. It isn’t a warm and fuzzy feeling but is an action you perform and the warm and fuzzy feeling is a result of the action. I heard that before and thought “yeah, the world is really great” and kept on going about my business the way I always had.
It’s really not a great surprise that if you keep doing things the way you’ve always been doing them you’ll always get the same results. Sometimes I wonder why I don’t take my own advice. I hope you are smarter than me.
I recently saw gratitude in a whole different light that has finally made total sense to me and I just had to share it with you. It involves the way we perceive the world and the way we interact with the world. Here’s a brief introduction of the principle.
You are a filter. I’ve touched on this before with all of the data you receive in any given second and how you are only consciously aware of the parts that are important to you. But even before that your body filters out what is relevant from all the data that’s available. Take your eyes as an example. They don’t see all the light that’s out there, just a very small part of it. They filter out what isn’t needed. Your ears do the same thing.
You filter out what is not needed and you absorb what you need. Then your brain filters this filtered information to only retain what is important to you. It’s how you work. It’s how you perceive the world. You are a filter.
Again, that’s easy to see with physical things like light and sound but how does this work with gratitude? It works in exactly the same way. I’ll use light as the analogy.
White light has all visible colours in it. For simplicity’s sake I’ll say it can be made of three primary colours, the same as the colours from your TV set that make all the different colours you see on it. The millions of colours you see on the TV are just different mixes of the three primary colours.
If you saw nothing but white light you might as well be blind – you wouldn’t be able to “see” or perceive anything but white. Your eyes have receptors that are tuned for different colours so they can pick out the contrasts and colours so things become distinct and different. It’s the reverse of your TV set – the TV mixes them and your eyes filter them. You filter them equally so you see a balanced view of what is projected on the TV screen. If your filters were out of balance then everything would be tainted by the dominant colour. You filter the light to see the picture so then you can navigate your world on and off the screen.
The practice (or action) of gratitude tells you to focus on the good things in your life so you feel better about it and then attract more of the same. The problem (for me anyway) was that the word gratitude is so close to attitude that to me they are pretty much the same. I thought gratitude was just an attitude. How do you change your attitude without being false about it, or if you can’t really see how it will work or why you’d bother changing? If your attitude is ingrained in your personality then it might just be too hard to change anyway. You can see why I thought it was a good idea but didn’t really do anything about it. I had no reason to change because I didn’t see how I could change or if I did then why it would actually work in my favour.
The practice of gratitude is simply a change in the process of where you focus your attention.
From now I’m not going to use the word gratitude anymore but simply use the word “focus” instead. I think that is much more practical and is not a change in attitude or something intrinsic to your nature but is simply a different way of doing the same thing you’ve always done.
Think of things that happen to you as little packets of energy. We’ll just call it the stuff that happens to you and to everybody else. All of that stuff can be considered to be like white light. Just white light made of types of energy.
You then filter that energy through your three primary filters (like colour filters) relating to stuff that happens of good, bad, and indifferent. These primary energies make up the entire emotional picture of your life as you see it, with many different shades made from the combinations of the three primary energies. You filter the stuff and this makes the emotional picture as you see it.
What you focus on tends to be flagged as important to you so you pay more attention to it so you focus more and see more of it. If you filter out and focus only on the “bad” part of the overall energy of stuff then your system will be tuned to bad and see more bad. It’s why depression can be so insidious because you feel bad so you focus on how you feel and see more bad so you feel worse and it becomes hard to see anything but bad. It is very difficult to dig yourself out of that bad place.
It works the same way if you filter only what you consider to be “good” stuff. Now it makes more sense to me why these people are said to be wearing rose coloured glasses – they are only filtering the parts they want to see so the world becomes tinted in that emotional colour – just like light.
So let’s look at this in summary.
Stuff happens and it is made of good, bad and indifferent energies. What you focus on automatically becomes important to you so you filter out more and more of just that one type of energy into your awareness.
If you think that mostly bad stuff happens to you then I can almost guarantee that you are focusing on and filtering out the bad parts of the energy stream and ignoring the others. It isn’t that the others don’t happen it is just that you are filtering only part of the overall energy system. It is also almost a certainty that you are refusing to acknowledge the good parts of the energy stream and therefore blocking the flow of good stuff through yourself.
If you want to alter the balance in your favour then you need to look at how you operate the process and make slight modifications. You need to shift your focus of attention to the good part of the energy stream of stuff. Then you need to increase the flow of the energy you want by acknowledging it and allowing it to move on and not be trapped. It is really as simple as that but you have to put it into regular practice for yourself in a way that works for you and your situation. Sometimes you might need someone else, or even a professional to help you see the good you’ve been blinded to. Sometimes just the change in focus is enough. But you need to change the focus and that means changing what is probably a habit and that usually takes both time and effort to make a new habit.
If you do that then you will have automatically started a practice of gratitude. It is simply becoming aware (resetting you filter and changing your focus) of the good things that happen to you, no matter how small at first. Once you become aware of it then recognise it and be thankful for it so the energy can flow. A lifetime of a particular energy flow doesn’t usually turn around overnight, but flows can be changed and blockages cleared.
Let me know how you go or if this makes sense to you.