Gratitude is usually suggested as a well meaning prescription. We are told to be grateful for what we have, or to show some gratitude. And yet it is difficult to feel something you are told to feel, even if it would feel better than what you are feeling. But what if gratitude is a description of your deeper nature? What if deep within you already feel gratitude?
Awareness is full of gratitude. It loves the sensations, experiences and thought forms that it touches in each moment. There is a natural appreciation for all that exists in awareness itself. It can't help itself, because on the deepest level awareness recognizes everything it touches as its own self. There is only awareness and so that is what it experiences in every moment, and that is what it is grateful for.
And yet that is not our conscious experience in many if not most moments. It seems like much of what awareness touches is not something we appreciate or are grateful for. What about our problems and our painful experiences? It can seem ridiculous to suggest that we are full of gratitude for those, when we are rejecting them.
The key to finding this deeper level where gratitude flows so freely is very simple. It only requires that you notice the gratitude you do feel in this very moment. And when you are rejecting or resisting a problem or painful experience, what you are grateful for is the capacity to reject or resist. Even in a moment of active opposition to some aspect of our experience, we are not usually also in active opposition to our own opposition. We are actually happy to be so upset about our situation, as we have been taught to believe that this upset will help us feel motivated to deal with or change the problem...
For example let's say you have just rear-ended a parked car. Even if you are not physically harmed, immediately you feel a big "Oh no!" arise inside of you, followed by thoughts of being late for work, higher insurance rates, and other complications. And to a large extent in the moment when you are saying "Oh no!", you are not really experiencing the actual reality in front of you of twisted bumpers. That is what you want to go away! You want to take that moment back and do it again only this time stopping just in time!
And it is this inner defense against the painful reality that your awareness is grateful for, in part because it is serving you in that moment to reduce the impact of the experience on you. By being upset, you get to take in less of the reality of the problem. Your awareness is distracted by all of the stories you mind starts to spin about the situation, so much so that you may not even notice some aspects of the experience, say for example if the cars are actually not so seriously damaged. It may take a while to really become aware of what has actually happened while you wait for your upset to settle down.
Awareness is grateful for the upset because it is either serving you in that moment to be upset, or a similar upset has served you in the past in similar situations. And even more fundamentally awareness just loves experience of all sorts. So even if you are unable to get past your upset to the actual reality of the circumstances, then awareness just enjoys the upset. Every emotion and sensation is richly unique and awareness at its core is deeply grateful for every experience that comes.
Again the key to recognizing this inner gratitude is simply to notice what awareness is actually touching in this very moment, as that is where the gratitude is rising to the surface of awareness.