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The Gratitude Myth


With all due respect to Tony Robbins. Its not that he's wrong, per se. The problem with this meme is that gratitude & appreciation have become such a cliche, such a part of pop culture, this deep wisdom doesn't penetrate into the bones for most people.

Fact is, most of what Tony Robbins says doesn't sink into most people's bones.

The same goes for Oprah's words. Nor Wayne Dyer's. Nor Eckhart Tolle's. Nor Pema Chodron's. Nor Jack Kornfield's.

Nor Moses'.

Nor the Buddha's.

Nor Jesus'.

Why? Because we're living in the midst of Meme Culture where the subconscious eats memes for breakfast and snorts milk out of its nose while laughing at us for acting like just because we endorse a meme (or can memorize scripture or teach yoga) we somehow inhabit the wisdom.

FACT: There's no correlation between understanding spiritual virtues and embodying them in practice.

BETTER FACT: The subconscious doesn't give two hoots about how impressed your intellect is with wisdom sayings while sipping coffee and scrolling IG in the morning. The subconscious is inaccessible to the rational mind. Scrolling through memes or nodding your head while listening to Oprah wax eloquent about how important gratitude is is as effective as trying to throw a rubber ball through a brick wall. No matter how pretty and expensive that rubber ball is, it will never make a dent in that brick wall. The subconscious is a brick wall. It comprises 90% or more of our energy and is impervious to rationale, logic or wisdom. The subconscious is akin to the part of the iceberg submerged below the water line; its much older than the conscious mind and much more deeply ingrained in the psyche. The subconscious is non-rational and primarily lives in the body as emotion. It is mostly known by one's reactions, impulses, and default behaviors. Its signature is its patterns.

If you naturally roll out of bed every morning full of joyful appreciation and your farts smell like baby unicorn breath, you can PASS GO right now. Everybody else, keep reading.

Go Beyond Listing! If it is not your natural default inclination to abide in gratitude and appreciation, then embodying this state requires intentional and deliberate practice. You've got to cultivate the sensation and experience of appreciation in your body. It is a tactile exercise, not a mental one. In order to cultivate sincere appreciation you've got to go beyond listing.

The big myth about gratitude is the idea that one can cultivate a palpable shift in consciousness simply by reading about it or making superficial lists. "I'm grateful for life" and "I'm grateful for my friends" is not specific enough to engage the Reticular Activating System in keeping track of how darned fortunate you are or how utterly blessed your life is. Listing gratitudes throughout the day is a good start. It trains the mind to perceive things differently, attuning focus toward the silver lining in everything. But if you want to bring it to life, its important that you not just look for the "good" things to list. Rather, look for ALL the things that are happening during the day and look for what's "good" about each situation or event. Then close your eyes and drop into the feeling sensation of joyful appreciation. There's no way to do that by simply listening to these words and agreeing that it's a good idea. If you want to inform how your life unfolds, you've got to let it drip below the surface of your intellect and let it seep into your heart. Otherwise you're just trying a short-cut to embodiment.

Morning Practice: My default mindset is not one of gratitude. If I allow my subconscious patterns to keep rolling, within moments of waking up I'm in judgement and fear. I may direct my attention to social media or the news where those patterns get to do pushups and dead-lifts. That being the case I don't give my subconscious a chance. Before I pay attention to anything that will get that train rolling, I ask myself some questions:

What's possible for me today? What are all the reasons I have to be happy? What am I grateful for this morning?

THEN I start listing. I write 4 or 5 things I'm grateful for before I get out of bed, and then I close my eyes and spend some time feeling them. I picture my puppy jumping on me with gleeful kisses. I imagine I can hear the sounds of my friend's little girl giggling. I do that until I am smiling. Once I'm smiling, only THEN do I start my morning meditation.

As the day unfolds, I continue to return to my Gratitude List and add more items. By returning to it several times during the day I am training my mind to look for evidence of things to be grateful for. But before it becomes 2nd nature, I've got to practice feeling the sensations of it in my body. Like all seeds, that's how it begins to sprout. That's when Tony Robbins wisdom begins to flower in my life.

#mindset #patterns #morningroutine #morningpractice #consciousness #gratitude