If you purchase any of today’s self-help products, you’ll hear the concept of developing an “attitude of gratitude” repeated over and over again. Many of these books, audio programs and videos outline step-by-step actions you can take in order to develop a gratitude attitude within your life – but these programs are working from a flawed assumption!
In Sadhguru’s words:
“Gratitude is not an attitude; it is something that flows out of you. If it is just a cultivated attitude, it is not of much significance. People have always told you that the magic words are “thank you,” but gratitude cannot be cultivated; it happens when you are overwhelmed by something or somebody.”
It isn’t necessary – or even possible – to develop gratitude, because this idea implies that gratitude is something that isn’t already within you. To understand why exactly this is the case, consider the idea of gratitude from the following perspective:
Many factors support your life
No matter who you are – whether you’re rich or poor, one race or another – you’re supported by an infinite number of processes that make life possible.
Certainly, it’s easy to see how the special people in your life support you. Your parents provided you with the food, shelter and teachings that have enabled you to turn into a productive adult. Your school teachers have given you the knowledge you need to pursue a career, and your boss gives you a paycheck in exchange for your time that allows you to pay your bills and live your life.
However, this is only a surface-level view of the factors that support your life.
Take a second to look down at the shirt you’re wearing. How many hands have touched your shirt in order to bring it into your life – from the farmers who harvested the cotton to the workers who sewed it together, and from the delivery driver who took it to your local store to the merchant who eventually sold it to you. Take this analysis a step further and think about the cotton plant, rich soil and sunlight that were all necessary to bring the shirt that now clothes you into being.
True gratitude stems from recognizing this support
Looking at all of these factors in turn, how can you not be grateful for everything you’ve been blessed with?
Truly, the only way to be ungrateful in this situation is to ignore the role that other factors play in supporting your life. If you move through this world as if you were the king or as if your situation is solely of your own making, you’ll find it difficult – if not impossible – to experience gratitude, no matter how many self-help manuals you purchase!
Instead, by recognizing the support that other factors play in your life, you’ll begin to feel overwhelmed by how fortunate you are to be a part of something so much larger than yourself. Gratitude stems from this feeling of being carried, leaving you with the powerful sense of satisfaction that comes from recognizing the myriad factors that make you the person you are today.
Yoga can make you more receptive to the process of receiving
The practice of yoga can open you up to the receptive state that’s necessary to experience gratitude on a deeper level than ever before.
When you make the regular practice of yoga a part of your life, you’ll become more open and more attuned to the process of receiving. According to Sadhguru, “The very process of life is a constant phenomenon of receiving.” Learning to receive should be the focus of any spiritual journey – though this is difficult, as making receiving a priority is difficult for people who are far more comfortable giving.
In this life, though, there is nothing that is truly yours to give. Instead, you must learn to receive the blessings of life gratefully and share these gifts with others in order to experience the beautiful phenomenon of gratitude.