Gratitude is Love

In the U.S., we celebrate Thanksgiving Day this Thursday. As a naturalized American, I’ve come to embrace Thanksgiving as one of the most meaningful traditions of my adopted home country. I’ll never forget my first Thanksgiving. I was a 16-year-old homesick Freshman at Maui Community College. My Economics professor invited a group of us—all international students from Hong Kong and Macau—to his house to share the holiday with his family, which included his wife (Indian) and two beautiful children.

pumpkin pieBecause of that introduction to American Thanksgiving, this tradition registered in my heart as a very international experience that crosses ethnic, age and status separation. While I couldn’t appreciate it at that young age, I’ve come to believe that there’s one ultimate thing that melts any separation and breaks down all human barriers: Love. To be in gratitude is to connect to the consciousness of love. To be grateful is to express love. Quite simply, Gratitude is Love.

Love is the memory of the heart

I’m sure there will be a plethora of blog posts and articles about gratitude this week. This is, of course, a great thing, as there can’t be enough reminders about gratitude. After all, it’s so very easy to forget to be grateful, to forget about love. As a case in point, last week, I wrote about being at Dr. Robert Holden’s Loveability Program. In the opening session, we did an exercise of sharing with six different individuals six experiences of love from the week. Having just flown into New York from a work week in Florida, I was still very much in work mode and immediately felt challenged by the task. Six experiences of love? By the third person I encountered, both of us were stumped to come up with something we hadn’t already shared.

That was when I realized how narrowly we—I—defined love. When I expanded my consciousness of love from the presence of a conditioned feeling to include anything that isn’t rooted in fear—the antithesis of love—my memories were suddenly filled with all kinds of experiences of love. That exercise shone a spotlight on how much I mindlessly took for granted by not experiencing life through a consciousness of love. Love is omnipresent. It requires us to be pay attention and recognize all signs of it.

Gratitude is the memory of the heart. ~Jean Baptiste Massieu

As I sat down to write this week’s post, I remembered the above quote by Massieu to be, “Love is the memory of the heart.” Until I looked it up, I didn’t realize I had inadvertently replaced “Gratitude” with “Love.” My memory of the quote might have been off, but there was no mistake. Gratitude is Love.

hands forming heartActs of love comes in all shapes and sizes

In my weekly visioning session for the new week, there wasn’t anything significant, but just simply a reminder to do small things with love. That prompted my memory of the following quote:

Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love. ~Mother Teresa

Love and gratitude isn’t just associated with big things. Objectively insignificant things warrant our consciousness as much as big events, like births and promotions. So, as I go into this Thanksgiving week, I intend to follow Mother Teresa’s advice to do small things with great love. Here are just some examples:

  1. Taking my team out to lunch to express my gratitude for all that they have been doing to serve our internal customers with quality deliverables, ownership and professionalism.
  2. Taking care of administrative work I have been putting off because I dreaded them—with a consciousness of gratitude for the position I have.
  3. Enjoying my pre-Thanksgiving gathering with my weekly book group friends celebrating friendship, love, learning and growing together.
  4. Savoring every minute of gathering with my local family over Chinese hotpot on Thanksgiving Day.
  5. Making a point to end each day taking stock of what went especially went well in my day, no matter how small an event it may be objectively speaking.
  6. Really enjoying writing this blog post about love with love!

Most of all, I’m setting an intention to be mindful of facing what I cannot foresee at this point with love, not fear, including its derivatives, i.e., jealousy, anger, insecurity, etc.

What about you? Do you think Gratitude is Love? Regardless of whether you’re in the U.S., what small acts might you do this week with great love? Let’s create a collective inventory of “love actions”!

___________________

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About Alice Chan, Ph.D.

Dr. Alice Chan is passionate about developing conscious leaders and organizations. Her path to serve her life purpose has included being an award-winning Cornell professor and a leader in the corporate world for nearly 15 years. She’s the author of the book, REACH Your Dreams: Five Steps to be a Conscious Creator in Your Life, and creator of the program, 30 Days to Living Your Best Life. All content on this blog and website is her own, not the opinions of her employer.

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12 comments
SkipPrichard
SkipPrichard

What a beautiful post, Alice. We are grateful for your gifts.

I have made it a point to send handwritten thank you notes often, but more so on Thanksgiving week. Thank you for the reminder that love and gratitude are interwoven.

DrAliceChan
DrAliceChan moderator

@SkipPrichard Skip, thank you for reading and commenting. Your practice of sending handwritten thank you notes is such a great thing in the current digital age. I love doing that myself and being the recipient of handwritten notes. It really says something about what the recipient means to the person writing and sending one. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving with your loved ones!

jesus14390
jesus14390

Hi Alice,

Thank you for your thoughtful post that takes me from empathy to reflection and then into action.

As a foreigner, I admire and respect a big deal this meaningful tradition too. I honor how people plan a deliberate stop on the road to share feelings of gratitude and thankfulness and they invite all others to follow their example. Mother Teresa nails it for me, I am pretty sure these feelings are a manifest of love as I have seen the impact of Thanksgiving in many positive ways.

In terms of action items, I have adopted Thanksgiving as a personal holiday in my own country and furthermore as I came aware of it, I try to remember every day to be thankful and show it and spread it as often as possible.

Your message and influence along with Alli's, Martina's, Frank's, Jon's, Lalita's, Hoda's and some other awesome Tweeps have inspired me to write again. For that, I am so very thankful!!!

Happy Thanksgiving.

Jesus

DrAliceChan
DrAliceChan moderator

@jesus14390 Jesus, so good of you to join the conversation here and share such great insights from your own experience! I agree with you, that being in gratitude shouldn't be just on Thanksgiving Day but throughout the year. And acts of gratitude (and of love) don't need to be monumental but they just need to come from the heart. So glad to read that you'll be writing again. Please let me know where to find it. Also, consider joining triberr, where bloggers meet and share. Happy Thanksgiving and every day, my friend!

Hiten Vyas
Hiten Vyas

Hi Alice,

This was a lovely post, my friend. It's interesting because at the beginning of the week I made a commitment to myself to treat all my clients with love and compassion. After reading your post, I'm going to ensure I keep doing this for the rest of the week.

Happy Thanksgiving!

DrAliceChan
DrAliceChan moderator

@Hiten Vyas Hi Hiten, great commitment with which to start and end the week. Your clients are very fortunate. Have a fantastic week, my friend!

scott_elumn8
scott_elumn8

Wonderful Thanksgiving message Alice. Thankful for your message and influence. Hope your holiday brings you great blessings.

Lori
Lori

Hi Alice,

When we feel gratitude we feel love. This is a good way to think of it - maybe a better way. Rather than thinking of the things in our lives we are grateful for, maybe we think of the things we love. That's easier!  It's funny how a slight change in words can change the meaning of things and how we feel about them. 

I recently read (and wrote) about a thing called Fierce gratitude. It begins with love or at least it dose for me. It instructs you to think of something you are grateful for and what came to mind was the 23 years I had with my son. But I realize now that though I was thinking "gratitude" I was feeling love. Maybe gratitude is more of a head thing and the feeling that accompanies it, deep in the heart, is love. Thanks for all this! It really changes the way I think/feel this!

Lori

Latest blog post: Is Life Supporting You?

DrAliceChan
DrAliceChan moderator

@Lori Hi Lori, thank you very much for adding to this conversation your personal insights. Yes, words and how we frame things can be so powerful. They can literally change our experiences. What you shared about gratitude/love for the 23 years you had with your son is truly touching. Whatever label resonates the most--love or gratitude--it seems that what really matters was that it was a truly significant part of your human experience to have shared those years with him. Thank you so much for sharing that here. Happy Thanksgiving, Lori!

AlliPolin
AlliPolin

Love is omnipresent - how beautiful, Alice!  We need to open ourselves to it or it most definitely does pass us by.  Your last post really shared such a vulnerable and honest part of you with all of us.  For that I'm grateful because your opening helped me to find another sliver of light shining forth to my own core.  Do I think gratitude is love?  I don't know.  I do think that gratitude is embracing the positive goodness that is in our lives with deep and heartfelt intention.  Thanks for sharing your journey and heart, Alice!  Happy Thanksgiving! 

DrAliceChan
DrAliceChan moderator

@AlliPolin Happy Thanksgiving to you, too, Alli! Thank you very much for your very kind words about my last post, sharing what it did for you. Also really appreciate your sharing what gratitude means to you. I'm grateful to you, Alli!

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