Gratitude is a healing feeling, and a skill that is enhanced with practice.
Duration: 12m:30s | Type: MP3 Audio | Size: 9.0 MB
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My old friend John Miller was a gratitude master which is admirable in and of itself. It’s amazing knowing a little about all he endured. His life was filled with difficulty for decades. In the 60’s he was exposed to Agent Orange as an army infantryman in the jungles of Vietnam. That caused health problems quickly which progressed into Crohn’s Disease and inflammatory respiratory disorders that slowly killed him over the next 50 years. He was unable to eat and on a portable feeding pump for nearly 30 years. The VA denied his disability payments for over 30 years creating financial strain for most of his life. John lived in the same tiny house he grew up in, and looked after his special needs special-needs brother who lived next door in an even smaller home. His only son became addicted to drugs and committed suicide in his 20’s.
And yet, every time I saw him John was smiling and upbeat about life. I always felt better after our visits. His gratitude was genuine and infectious. He never dwelled on his problems or stayed mad at anyone. One day, I asked him how he did it. He told me it was a choice he made each morning and practiced every day – especially the hard days. Then he taught me about the different levels of gratitude.
Level 1 is spontaneous appreciation that happens as a result of some desired thing happening to you. Like receiving affirmation from someone important to you, getting a wonderful gift, or eating your favorite food. This type of appreciation is involuntary and contingent on circumstances.
Level 2 is gratitude experienced as a result of noticing some small positive that was previously overlooked. Examples include enjoying birdsong, noticing a rainbow, or exchanging smiles with a stranger. This degree of gratitude is voluntary and comes when we look for it.
Level 3 gratitude is felt in combination with empathy for another – as in when I learned my friend Bill was diagnosed with cancer, and I simultaneously felt concern for his wellbeing plus gratitude for my present health. This tier of gratitude requires openheartedness and intention. Level 4, or the mastery stratum – is what John demonstrated. This spiritual plateau of gratitude is where he expressed gladness for the silver lining blessings that came as a result of his difficulties. That was the foundation of his contagious happiness.
All types of gratitude or thankfulness feel good and bring healing energy to the grateful one. I hope this hierarchy idea is helpful to you. Perhaps you can use it as both a guide going forward and as a dashboard indicator to assess your current spiritual fitness. I know I’m grateful for having known John and what he taught me. Thanks to those lessons I now see my experiences with alcoholism and drug addiction as blessings that were necessary ingredients in putting me on a path that includes meditating on gratitude. Maybe that’s a step toward mastery.
Thanks for meditating with me.
All tracks recorded and mixed at Markosa Studios. Big thanks to Mark Theis for his excellent work.
Special thanks to Richard Held for sharing his beautiful piano track from his CD “Home”