Beyond the Gratitude Journal

Americans are hungry for faith. The whole world is.

Our well-being would increase beyond measure were we to dwell in the certainty that the cosmos is benevolent. This would be our ticket back home, back to the light and benevolence within our hearts.

The good news is that science is discovering the benevolent nature of the cosmos. Science’s repudiation of old understandings of a cold, arbitrary universe with a bias toward benevolence and well-being for the whole and the microcosm within the whole couldn’t be more perfectly timed.

The correction to the science of the pre-quantum era comes at a time when the culture at large trust science more than spirituality. While many world citizens may filter or discount mystics who speak of their own personal knowing of the benevolence of the All and my refuse to consider what the saints and gurus through the centuries have written about  the unstoppable nature of God’s love, there is at least some openness to what scientists might say about the nature of the cosmos in which we live—particularly if the scientists are basing their theories or proclamations on the findings of the most powerful, state of the art microscopes and telescopes.

Why am I, a Happiness Coach, addressing the question “Does the cosmos show signs of a benevolent intelligence?” I do so because in my own personal experience, my body, mind, heart and soul have all functioned with greater well-being and coherence when I’ve responding to this question with an unwavering “Yes.”

Faith for me has not been static. Doubt has crept in from time to time; it has knocked me off the rock of faith. Yet I’ve return to faith like the ocean’s water returns to the sand dunes at high-tide.

When my faith has been diluted or eclipsed by doubt, I’ve been disconnected from my intuition. Or I might get a hit and be less likely to recognize it as the voice of my intuition and more likely to dismiss it.

When I’ve been down to my last dollar and relying on the remaining rice in my cupboard for sustenance—that is, when my faith in the benevolent nature of the cosmos has been tested—I’ve fallen prey to the temptation to worry about the bills and the worry has fatigued me.

As a Happiness Coach, I’m interested in anything that elevates our well-being. If we are strengthening the pillars of body, mind, heart and soul, happiness and fulfillment are more likely to show up as a byproduct or side-effect of our elevated, flourishing state.

In my own life, the trajectory form doubt to faith has been supported by gratitude. Returning to the metaphor of high-tide bringing water (or faith) back to the sand dunes (or to my world), we could position gratitude as the moon that pulls the tide back to the eddy.

Over the last two or three decades, gratitude journals have become more popular. We’ve all been encouraged to sit before our journals and reflect on the blessings that have been given to us. “Count your blessings,” has been a popular phrase for a number of generations; the gratitude journal provides a place and time for doing so.

For many of us, this practice is devoid of the spirit-filled energy that could fuel the practice. We sit before our journal and ask, “What good things happened today?” or “What signs of things getting better showed up today?”

While this approach to journaling is not to be criticized, it missed the core principle that could enrich the time of reflection ten-fold.

Asking, “What good things came my way today?” may bring to mind a complement someone gave you or news of being promoted at work. While it will be gratifying a week from now to look back over the list of wins and experiences that you deemed as “good,” it would be more powerful to spend a few minutes each day reviewing the arc of your life, including the difficult times when faith was tested.

Some religious traditions have practiced the rehearsal of history, often as an oral tradition. In the Jewish tradition, the story of Moses and his followers crossing the Red Sea to recounted during the Passover season, for example. The group collectively and individually acknowledges the gifts and protection that was bestowed upon them at a time of need.

When we look at the arc of time, at the story of our own lives, we ask a different set of questions. In this larger context we might ask, “How did this trial in my life bring me to a better place?” or “How did this moment of difficulty/ease/grace inform or enhance my capacity to serve those in my life?”

These questions are variations on, “How has the celestial realm supported me throughout my life?” These questions place our gaze upon the benevolence of God (or the benevolence of Cosmic Intelligence, if you prefer). No longer is our focus on, “How did I benefit or advance today?” Instead we focus on our relationship to All that is.

While gratitude journals may stir up a sense of gratitude based upon being grateful for this or that, reflecting on the arc of our lives stirs up a sense of gratitude to. This is the experience of gratitude that more readily engages the heart in a profound way. As a Happiness Coach, I know that true contentment and fulfillment are far more probable when the heart is participating more fully in our daily lives.

As humans we all long for faith, for the certainty that establishes a foundation from which we can feel secure enough to allow ourselves to blossom—secure enough to consciously experience ourselves as powerful and divine. We long to trust the cosmos as a safe place to express ourselves—not just our personalities, but the depths of our hearts. We long to give ourselves permission to discover the unknown within ourselves, to encounter the brilliance within our hearts that has been hidden for so many years and to celebrate this brilliance along with all aspects of ourselves. (The longings of the human heat are beautiful. They are the seed of our relationship to the Divine; they distinguish the human from the robot.)

Gratitude to the All for the love and support the All must provide is a good starting point. Acknowledging that the intelligence that is at the core of the universe’s movement and at the core of its existence must be benevolent or else it ceases to be intelligence: this is a good place from which to begin the journey. This starting point can only take you to the heart of God, the place that embraces you without condition and sets you free to do the same.

Please take advantage of the free guided visualization being offered on the home page, “Beholding Your Essence.”