Last week I was having a conversation with a friend and they asked me an interesting question. I may have been asked questions like it before, but not quite in this fashion (at least that I can remember). Ever since she asked it my brain has been letting it ferment a bit as it provides a very interesting thought process.
“Do you choose what you’re thankful for at the beginning of the day and focus on that throughout the day? Are you being intentional in your gratitude?”
My initial response was a quick no. Each day when I write my blog I usually write it at the end of the day after I’ve had the opportunity to experience the day and put it all into some sort of perspective. As I thought about it I realized that there are many days I kind of choose what I’m thankful for early in the day and then my mindset stays focused on that train of thought throughout the day. So maybe, but not really? The interesting point about the question that was asked was the difference between what I’d call intentional, experiential, and transcendent gratitude.
Intentional gratitude would be when I choose to be thankful for something specific. I focus on it, dig into why I am thankful for it, and I am then grateful for it. While my initial response to her question was “no” I realized that there are definitely times in I chose to be grateful for something or someone because of the specific; ie Mother’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries, etc… In those scenarios my mindset of gratitude is different. It causes me to intentionally dig which often provides a different level of thankfulness.
Experiential gratitude is when I see, hear, smell, touch or taste something that causes me to pause and be grateful for the experience. Seeing a spectacular sunrise or the beautiful fresh green leaves on the bluffs over the Mississippi River cause me to pause and be thankful for what is all around me. In those moments I am thankful for something because I have experienced it and that moment has reminded me to pause and be grateful for the experience.
Somewhere on a different level is what I would deem transcendent gratitude, though I would be very open to another name for it as this was the first one off the top of my head. This gratitude in some ways is amongst the most meaningful to me as it helps me absorb life and its lessons in a very different way. Examples of this are like a couple of weeks ago when I fell while running. As I got back up I saw how the spill I’d just taken was a metaphor for running into challenges and obstacles in life. When I spent time finding a reason to be grateful for the fall and thinking about what I could learn from it I was able to find gratitude that transcended the event itself. When I focused on being thankful for the event I found a deeper meaning that made me significantly more grateful than I would have been without taking the time to focus on gratitude. Transcendent gratitude seems to be derived from either experiential or intentional gratitude. In many cases when it is achieved it seems to be the most powerful form of gratitude for me.
What do you think? Is there a different form of gratitude that I missed? Would you explain it in a different way? Please shoot any ideas and thoughts out there, I’d appreciate more to think on related to this topic.
Long story short, today I am very thankful for my friend asking me a question that has my brain thinking more deeply on the topic of gratitude. Funny how sometimes all it takes is one slightly different question to help our brains grow?