At our workshops across the world, we begin each meditation by opening our hearts. When we do this, I always monitor our student’s energy and observe what they are doing. Surprisingly, I often find that it’s very difficult for most people to open their heart and really feel an elevated emotion such as gratitude. It usually takes them a few days to finally be able to fully surrender into the feeling. I was especially mystified by this at our last event on the Sunshine Coast in Australia a few weeks back. It caused me to wonder, why is it so hard for the majority of us to really feel gratitude?

After giving it some thought, it dawned on me that most people don’t actually feel authentic gratitude in their daily life. When people say thank you, they are doing so by operating out of an unconscious program. While they may be saying thank you, they lack the awareness and allowance to actually feel gratitude for a long enough period of time for it to have an effect. Why is this important? Because it’s the emotion of gratitude that is carrying the thought, and we now know that the feeling of gratitude actually has dramatic effects on the body, including strengthening the immune system and upregulating genes.

When you see someone who authentically feels gratitude, whether they’re feeling grateful for the morning mist, a hot shower, the sun setting over the ocean, or receiving a gift, you can witness them having an energetic experience. Something shifts within them—some veneer, facade, or image they project to the world about themselves drops and in that space an authentic vulnerability appears. You can always tell people who truly feel gratitude, so pay attention to these people. When they feel that emotion and really experience it, it’s a completely different experience than the program of just saying thank you. Instead of going on autopilot, a person experiencing gratitude will pause in the present moment and really feel the expansiveness of the emotion and follow it with a kind word or thought. A person who lives In gratitude for the simple things in life has made it a habit.

I find it ironic that so many people spend their days living in a program, constantly focusing on what they don’t have. Instead they should be focusing on feeling gratitude for all the things they are creating, all the things in their life that are working and are actually worth feeling grateful for. When we are living in a program of survival, it’s very hard to feel grateful, and this takes away our awareness to see what is right in front of us. A person may have ten great things happening in their life, but instead they focus on that one thing that’s not working, because that’s what we do in survival—we prepare for worst-case scenarios so that they don’t happen again.

With Thanksgiving having just passed and the holidays on their way, it’s a great time to start focusing our gratitude on all the wonderful things we do have in our life, rather than the things we don’t. So many of us have been hypnotized into waiting for something outside of us to make us feel better, whether that’s a drug, a person, a job, a shopping spree, a video game, alcohol, cigarettes, and so on. This causes us to become conditioned and dependent on our outer world to change how we feel in our inner world.

So why would we feel gratitude if we haven’t received anything? Remember where we’re going with this work—to feel elevated states with our eyes open. By feeling and practicing gratitude in your waking day, you’re in a state to receive—you are in an energy that is drawing something to you on a moment-to-moment basis. The people who do find the time to authentically feel gratitude and drop that facade or veneer are the people who actually have the ability to feel gratitude in their meditations in a more natural way. The goal of this work is to create a bridge between our meditations and our waking life. This is why we are doing the work in the first place—to have these elevated feelings in our waking, working daily lives. If you are doing this properly then in a sense you are stepping out of the present consciousness of your current life and creating an unknown experience somewhere in the future.

So think about the feeling of gratitude you would experience if some problem in your life was resolved, whether it’s a health condition, relationship problem, a job dynamic, or whatever it is that keeps you at the same level of consciousness you are currently in. Write down the feelings of relief you would feel and the state of being you would experience when that relief happens.

Finally, remember that the only way you can make your way out of the box of your current reality is to go into another box. This is the next evolution of your greatest understanding of where you want to be, and it all starts with gratitude. Why? Because gratitude is the ultimate state of receivership.

Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Thanks-receiving!