Picture the word “gratitude” in your mind’s eye. As you visualize this word, does it bring back a memory of a time when you may have felt gratitude? Perhaps you remember someone helping you complete a difficult project or someone bringing you soup when you were sick.

Can you remember how this experience made you f-e-e-l? What emotions did this elicit in you?

We experience this deep sense of gratitude energy in the center of our chest – the location of the heart chakra. And when we connect with this feeling, gratitude becomes us and we become gratitude. It then ripples through our body like a warm wave, giving us goose bumps, sometimes even evoking tears.

If your expression of gratitude is genuine, the people on the receiving end can sense it as an exchange of truth, a gesture of love!

Thanksgiving is a time when gratitude comes to the forefront – for all of us. Why is that, do you suppose? Why does the United States (and Canada) have a day devoted to gratitude?

Many people have traditions in connection with this holiday. What if we extended these practices into the rest of the year, perhaps on a daily basis?

Recently, my level of gratitude has shifted to a deeper experience than previously in my life. I used to equate thankfulness with receiving tangible things. Now, I guess I have expanded my definition of “gift”. A stunning sunrise can have me voicing my thanks. On a recent hike up a mountain trail, the Aspens, their leaves undulating and glistening in the afternoon sun, were a gift, too.

It’s as if Nature has afforded me a clarified view of what is essential in life. The path that connects me with all of Creation has been cleared of the debris. I can now visualize how my experience of gratitude interacts with all those other “essentials” to human experience – forgiveness, compassion, humility, trust and, ultimately, love.

How do we get to this clarified experience of gratitude? Well, like anything worthwhile in life, it requires practice. So, say, you start keeping a gratitude journal. And on Day One, you write in it the name of someone from whom you need forgiveness or whom you need to forgive. Be mindful of what reconciliation would look like with this person. Are you hanging on to some past resentment? Is the other person hanging on to similar resentment? What steps can you take to bring the two of you back together?

If you need or want help with this process, you might want to consider getting my book, Building The Bridge Inward Through Meditation: A guide to Divine connection and direction. I have a simple meditation in my book devoted to forgiveness that just might support you through the process.

By now, I’m guessing you’ve caught on to how the gratitude journal can be used daily to step you through the other essentials – compassion, humility, trust, and love.

So, once you’ve started down the forgiveness trail in your gratitude journal, nothing says you can’t also, simultaneously, work on the other components of human experience that connect with gratitude. Compassion, for example, has a connection with forgiveness, right? The word, “compassion” comes from two Latin words – com (meaning “with”) and “passion” (meaning “feeling”). So, when you have compassion for another person, you are “feeling with” (that is, alongside) another. And isn’t that a requirement for forgiveness? In this more enlightened frame of mind, you begin to understand at a deep level what that other person may have been going through at the time of your relationship’s derailment. Now, you can find ways to get that train back on its track…

You can see, I think, how using the gratitude journal can bring you to a fuller understanding of what it means to be thankful. Which brings me to how I came to this higher understanding of gratitude. I’m writing a book. As I write it, I will be sharing articles like this one with you to help us all feel the gratitude energy that connects us.

Next month, let’s look at a biggie – humility!