We all know we should feel gratitude in life. In fact, it’s often ingrained in us that we are supposed to feel thankful for the things life, the Universe, or God has granted us with. We tell our children to eat their dinner, because there are kids all over the world who aren’t so lucky.
But is this healthy? Can gratitude be dangerous? And what’s unconditional gratitude?
In this blog post, you will learn about what it means to truly be thankful and appreciative, and seven ways to practice the act of unconditional gratitude.
The Power of Unconditional Gratitude
What is the true meaning of gratitude?
Simply, gratitude means “thanks” or “appreciation”. It’s a positive feeling after receiving something in life.
This could mean that you literally receive something nice from someone, or it could even mean a “gift” in the form of a beautiful sunset, a wonderful moment with a friend, or any other simple pleasure in life.
The simple answer is that we can experience gratitude at any time. It doesn’t necessarily have to be when someone does something nice for us – sometimes just understanding that life itself is a gift is enough to make us live those elevated emotions of gratitude and love.
The Danger of Gratitude
Is there a danger to practicing gratitude, and if so what might it be? Just like positivity can be toxic, so can gratitude.
Toxic gratitude is forcing yourself to be thankful for something. In other words, you deny yourself your true feelings of grief, loss, or hurt. While it may seem selfless to force yourself to be grateful, it actually forces you to ignore things that may be detrimental to your health or best life.
What is unconditional gratitude?
Unconditional gratitude is both a feeling and a practice; it’s gratefulness without any underlying conditions or expectations. Essentially, you let go of all your preconceived notions of what you need to feel good about your life. This kind of gratitude makes you feel free and present in the moment.
He also says:
When you practice this kind of gratitude and appreciation, you don’t need something in the world to provide you with the sense of appreciation—you automatically experience the power of gratitude and love no matter what.
Gratitude vs. Love
Gratitude and love are both two of the highest vibrational emotions we can have. They are deep, meaningful, powerful, and positive, and when they are together, they are boundless.
We all want unconditional love, and this unconditional love can be found in our own hearts when we give unconditional thanks for everything that has been given to us. As human beings, it is important to remember that we cannot control the world and everything in it. The unconditional love of gratitude is a powerful way to take care of ourselves and share our wonderful energy and power with the world.
7 Ways to Practice Unconditional Gratitude in Your Life
Remember, this is not just practicing gratitude, but also releasing any negative aspects like pain or grief. This is why practicing unconditional gratitude means having awareness or being mindful of both aspects of our emotional experience.
There is no right way to do this. Listen to your thoughts—your inner voice and self. You’ll know you are doing this right when your instincts tell you.
1) Make a list of what you’re grateful for
You don’t have to be a professional writer to take out a journal and write down the things you appreciate every day. The obvious ones will come first, like a roof over your head, food to eat, a job, your loved ones and friends.
But there are so many things in our lives that we need and love. For more ideas, check out Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. We don’t only experience gratitude for safety and friends or people in your life. You might also be grateful for having a sense of purpose or a true path in life.
Read your list often and add to it when you need to. When you want to experience that sense of gratitude, spend some time thinking of the love and power you live.
2) Make a list of what you wish you had in your life or that you feel resentful of
The ultimate goal is to release your resentment or desires. Start by simply making a list of your trauma or whatever burdens you.
- you are resentful of the way someone treated you.
- you’re really in pain over lost dreams.
- you want to buy things you can’t afford.
- you wanted children but never had them.
- you want more time in life than you have left.
- you thought your life would be different
You cannot have unconditional gratitude without releasing these negative emotions. This is perhaps one of the most difficult parts of enlightenment and personal growth that I’ve encountered in my life. Because we associate our identity with various ideas or people, if we lose them, we think our identity has suffered.
Who you are as a person is an amalgamation of the things you have experienced in the past, which means that even the negative parts of life have made you who you are. And that is something to love and appreciate!
3) Let go of your pain
Everything you wrote in #2? These are based in the “ego”, the “self”. Now it’s time to release them to . They’re not healthy or helpful. Here are a few ways to let go:
- write the items from #2 on small slips of paper and burn them while releasing those emotions
- make affirmations by turning your resentments around (Go from “I wish I had more time in life and I feel resentful” to “I love the time I have had in life, together with people I love.”
- gather wrist or ankle weights for each resentment you have and wear all of them at once. Tell yourself “I release the resentment over how my ex treated me” and take off one weight. Do this until you are completely free of your expectations and bitterness and you are physically lighter.
When you don’t have expectations, you can truly focus on the love, power, and beautiful people in your lives. You make room for positivity without expectations.
4) Make a list of your favorite simple pleasures
Part of gratitude with no conditions is that you begin to see the small joys all over your life. Just a little bit of thought and you’ll realize just how many you have. Here are a few examples to get you started:
- spending time with a close friend
- sharing a smile with a stranger
- hearing a child laugh
- the crunching on autumn leaves under your feet
When we find and appreciate the little, real moments, we realize how much love we really have in our lives.
5) Learn to appreciate your life as the amazing journey it is
Part of what makes expectations so challenging is that we think of those expectations as an ending point. But as soon as you achieve that goal, receive that promotion, get that new car, you’re already priming yourself for something new to want or expect.
But in our lives, there is only an end when we die. Life is a journey, and when we tell ourselves “I’ll finally be happy when I…“, we’re short-changing ourselves. We are preventing ourselves from the gratitude and appreciation we so want to experience.
As the quote says:
“The journey of life is not meant to be feared and planned; It is meant to be travelled and enjoyed.”(Unknown)
6) Practice giving love and positive energy to other people every day
Give to others and share your love, your positive thoughts, and your life joys. Start with the closest relationships in your life, like your spouse, children, or close friends.
Again, there is no right way to do this.
- Give your kids an extra hug or kiss.
- Tell someone you love them.
- Dance to the music in the grocery store and watch others join in! (Seriously, this has happened to me!)
- Buy a bouquet of flowers and give them away to people on the street.
- Bring a meal to new mother.
When you see the wonderful moments of your own life, it’s easier to create those for another person.
7) Actively find new things to be grateful for every day
Just when you think you have exhausted yourself of gratitude, there is still more! Keep jotting them down in your journal. Spend some time meditating or doing visualization. When you’re mindful, the world opens itself up to you!
And as I mentioned in #6, when you create opportunities for gratitude, you also will be able to start giving love and beauty for the people around you. Always share.
It’s hard to practice gratitude without conditions or expectations. We may feel guilty for struggling when we should be appreciate what we have, and sometimes it feels wrong to be grateful if our loved ones don’t have the same good fortune as us.
But this deep sense of gratitude is worth pursuing because it can lead to a number of benefits including greater happiness, better health, increased resilience in challenging times, and more meaningful relationships with others (especially those who are also going through difficult times).
Do you experience this kind of deep gratitude without expectations?
What ways do you practice unconditional gratitude?
20 of the Best Affirmation Cards for Everyone