Thanksgiving is one of my favorite time of the year.  The very name is positive, upbeat, inspiring celebration – to take a day acknowledge the many things in life for which we are thankful, and, appreciate.  Everyday, really, is Thanksgiving.  I suspect that many people who grouse a lot even cheer up a bit at Thanksgiving.  At least for a little time, they direct their attention to some of the good things in their life.  That temporary shift in attention produces a better feeling.  The question is, why not make such shift routine and feel better more of the time?  Let’s take a look at how this can work.

            Consider emotions as a range of points between two ends.  At one end are the emotions we describe as Joy and Love.  At the other end is the emotion we describe as Despair.  All other emotions, or feelings, are shades of either Joy or Despair.  Many of these shades we call hopeful, hopeless, anger, grateful, fearful, frustration, resentment, jealousy, guilt, boredom, anticipation, optimistic, pessimistic, confident, helpless, appreciation, and so on.

            Every Life is a journey along this scale of emotions.  But what are emotions?  On one hand, emotions are described as a bio-chemical response to a person’s environment.  Through the various senses the brain interprets the people, situations and circumstances and this evokes a “feeling” that may be pleasant or not, depending on the level of danger or comfort.  In this belief, emotions are the result of the world around us.  In order to have a better feeling emotion, to feel better, it is necessary to focus and control the world around us.

            On the other hand, emotions are considered a form of communication within Self.  In this interpretation, what we consider our Self, that is, our physical body and physical experience, is but a small part of our total Being.  While we engage in our daily physical life we maintain contact with our Greater Self, although we are seldom conscious of this.  Emotions are the language our Expansive Self uses to guide us.  When we “feel” bad, it means that our interpretation and attention of our experience is not aligned with our True Self.

            One way to recognize True Self is to remember Jiminy Cricket from the Disney movie “Pinocchio.”  Jiminy advises Pinocchio to let his conscience be his guide.  What we call “conscience” is part of that direct communication with our higher self.  The better we feel, the more we are in sync with our Higher Consciousness.  This belief recognizes our mental attention as the cause of the feelings we have.

            Both beliefs are true.  Which belief is in play depends on the perspective of the individual.  If a person believes that he/she is a product or victim  of external forces, and situations, then emotions will be an indicator of the amount of good or bad experienced.  The bad, or negative, feelings motivate action to fight or escape the pain inducing situation.  The good feelings motivate to fight and struggle to make more changes in outer situations to induce more good feelings.

            However, if a person believes that he/she is a spiritual Being, having the ability to Think and Create, then emotions may be understood to be indicators of vibrational alignment with the Thinking, Creating Self.  Now, that’s not nearly as cosmic as it might appear.  How do you feel when you’ve done something that you believe is good?  You feel “good.”  How do you feel when you’ve done something you believe is bad?  You feel “guilty.”  It’s the interpretation of emotions that is important.  Hey, the cricket got it right.

            Emotions do not cause your actions and experience.  You are not at the mercy of capricious feelings.  Feelings reflect your decisions and actions.  If you’re not feeling good, then your mental attention is on subjects and situations that are out of sync with your Higher Self.  If you’re feeling good, then your mental attention is on subjects and situations that are more in sync.  Emotions are not created by what other people do or don’t do, or the “what is” that you see around you.

            Emotions are not something to be feared.  Understood as the language of spirit, emotions are a fabulous guide to interpreting and managing Life – follow your hunch, let your conscience be your guide.  If you feel good about something, there’s a reason.  If you feel badly about something, there is a reason.  The reason is you.

            So, let’s say someone is generally depressed, or feels helpless most of the time.  What’s going on here?  The emotion called depression is an after-effect of believing that a person has no power to influence the people, situations, and circumstances around him/her; that they are helpless to improve our life situation.  From this perspective, the person cannot do anything about his/her state of being until someone or something in the external world changes for them.  I’ve called this mortgaging your happiness.  If you believe that you can only become a happier, healthier person IF someone or something does what you want them to do, then it’ll be a long wait, and probably a lot of activity attempting to make others conform to what you want them to do.  HINT:  How easy is it for others to make you do something you don’t wish to do?

            A counselor once had as a client a woman who had been depressed for a long time.  After listening to the woman describe her misery and unhappiness, the counselor asked what she would be doing, this day, if she was not depressed.  The woman listed a number of things she would be doing, IF she were not depressed.  The counselor then suggested that she do them anyway, in spite of the depression.  End of the story:  The woman sought out another counselor.  She wasn’t ready to change her thinking.

            A lesson learned the hard way, for many, is that it is impossible to change other people.  And to give attention to the faults and wrongs of another only increases awareness of those features and diverts the powerful thought energy away from the individual and casts it upon another.  This process was summed up long ago in the adage that you can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.  It’s true.  A child gets it.  No matter how much energy and intensity is directed into working a piece of pork leather, it cannot become what it is not – a silk purse.

            Now, this doesn’t mean that a stubborn person can’t or won’t devote years of energy and resources to do so.  A person is totally free to do so.  It can produce great activity, the person will appear very busy, but is a silk purse in production?   An irrational idea, passionately held, is still an irrational idea.  To paraphrase, “it’s the thinking, stupid.”

            The anger and frustration that such a person will feel may be confusing unless it’s understood to indicate that the mental attention is directed to something that can’t be done, that’s out of sync with natural law, that’s not advancing the true desire of the person.

            A long time ago a Greek philosopher, Epictetus, noted that:  “Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them…Suffering arises from trying to control what is uncontrollable.”

            What can be done, at any moment, is realize that you are able to change your perception of the situation.  It’s not about manipulating others to “get their act together” for your benefit.  It’s about getting your act together in relation to who you are and what you desire, regardless of what others are thinking and doing.  They have the same freedom of thought as you.  And, like you, only they can change their thinking.

            The goal of both beliefs is to feel better, to occupy a better feeling point on the emotional scale.  The ways to accomplish this are quite different.  One is activity based – attempts to change environment and people; the other is thought based – change your thinking.

            There is a short cut with the latter.  We love short cuts!  Instinctively, we know that resistance creates friction and problems.  We know, really, that the path to our highest Good, is swift and pleasant.  Suffering is neither a requirement nor a criteria.

            The “short cut” to live in a better feeling point on the emotional scale is Appreciation.  When we appreciate something, we delight in its existence.  We smile at it.  We are glad that it, whatever it may be, exists and that it is.  Everyone one of us is capable of appreciation.  There is, at every moment, in every circumstance, something that can be appreciated.

            Appreciation is the closest emotion to that which we describe as LOVE.  The list of things, situations, conditions that we can appreciate is infinite.  As Love is infinite, so is appreciation.

            Now, I want to distinguish Appreciation from Gratitude.  Gratitude is definitely moving up the scale towards Love and Joy, but it’s a frequency lower than Appreciation.  Gratitude carries the thought of the unhappiness before – the condition or situation a person is now “grateful” not to experience.  “I’m grateful for my job (because I have been without a job).”  Got that?  The negative is attached to the desired state in gratitude.  Don’t get me wrong, gratitude is a fast track to appreciation.

            But if you can distinguish the two, then you have the ability to appreciate.  Appreciation has no “absence” or “lack” of something attached to it.  Appreciation is simply delighting in the existence of something else, someone, some condition, no strings attached.

            Appreciation is our handy tool in using the fundamental Law of Attraction.  All things in the Universe that are similar in vibrational frequency will cluster, come together.  Birds of a feather flock together.  This is the Law that manages the host of frequencies in all things, including emotions.

            A good analogy has been offered by our friends Esther Hicks and her late husband, Jerry in their Abraham lectures.  If you set  your radio dial to AM 500 you will listen to what is broadcast at that station.  You will be very frustrated if you want to listen to what station FM 90 is broadcasting.  In order to listen to FM 90 you have to tune it in, turn the dial to the signal broadcast by the station you want.  If our emotions are not what we want, then it’s necessary to move our frequency up the scale to a better feeling place.

            Please remember that this is real, genuine, actual, and full reality.  The idea of having a measure of control over your feelings is not a loose feather from Happy-happy land, but physics.

  • ·         Step One:  I don’t like the way I feel
  • ·         Step Two:  Distract yourself from observing/thinking about what angers you or distresses you.  (Notice it doesn’t say “get rid of” or “change”  – distract YOUR attention)
  • ·         Step Three:  Give your attention to something you appreciate
  • ·         Step Four:  Keep  your attention on situations, things, that  you honestly appreciate.

            After a while you will feel better and encounter more pleasing situations and circumstances.

            It doesn’t matter what you’re experiencing, it’s always possible, at every instant, to shift your attention from something displeasing to something you appreciate.  Unconditional appreciation sets off a chain-reaction of delight – the more you appreciate, the more you notice to appreciate, which invites more appreciation, which brings into your experience more of what you appreciate…

            A person who spends a lot of their existence living in anger feels better than when he/she lived in helplessness and despair.  Always remember that a “better feeling” for someone else may not be what is a “better feeling” for you.  Our angry person may move into the frequency of frustration, which is a degree closer to Joy and Love, and therefore feels better.  It’s not possible to leap over the scale and go from misery to Joy.  You can only experience what you can experience.  You will have more Joy when you are more closely aligned with Joyful vibrations.  You can, deliberately, move along the scale towards better feelings and more fun living.

            Finally, over the Thanksgiving weekend, a Facebook friend posted a note to all about how she was enjoying giving thanks for the many wonderful components of her life.  I couldn’t resist commenting:  It’s fun to appreciate!  To which she replied:  It sure is!

            Have more fun.  Appreciate Appreciation.



Text of a talk given by George Sewell at Unity of Shreveport

November 27, 2011