It’s that time of the year when we are reminded to “Give Thanks.” But before we reflect on the ever-so-powerful effects of having an “attitude of gratitude,” let’s review how and why giving thanks is so important to our spiritual and personal well-being.

Giving Thanks Completes an Experience

Giving thanks is much like saying “yes!” When a person offers us a gift, and we accept it, we usually say “thanks.” This is our way of saying, “Yes, I accept the gift.” In fact, if we take the gift without adding that statement of thanks, it would appear that we have, in some way, actually not completely accepted the gift. So the acknowledgement of gratitude tends to complete the transaction or experience.

The universe (and our soul’s consciousness) tends to see it much the same way. When the universal consciousness hears “thank you,” it tends to assume we got the lesson, message, or gift and then moves on—usually to go get us something better than that which was previously delivered.

Giving thanks helps us to “integrate” whatever it was that we were supposed to learn or gain from an experience. And what we integrate from an experience determines what exactly our next experience will look like. Therefore, when we soak in (i.e. integrate) an experience, which is assisted by giving thanks, we release ourselves to move forward to something new, something better.

Gratitude Releases Us from “Learning Loops”

Conversely, our failure to learn, integrate, and give thanks, for our personal experiences—both positive and negative—can keep us in an endless learning loop from which we cannot escape until we change our minds. The problem is, of course, that although people tend to have no problem giving thanks for positive experiences, most people have no clue how to give authentic thanks for seemingly negative experiences.

But even giving authentic thanks for positive experiences is rarely understood. For example, it’s actually not enough to merely throw out a gratuitous “thank you” for a positive experience. If we fail to integrate what we gained from the experience, then our gratitude is only skin deep. To truly be grateful is to truly understand how and what we have gained from an experience.

Integrate the Old and Welcome the New

The solution is simply to remember how important it is to turn all of life’s events and experiences into blessings by giving thanks for whatever we can extract from such experiences. Yes, it is normal for a human being to feel (and struggle with) the shame and regrets of some of our negative experiences but a master chooses to turn the negatives into positives by choosing to learn what we can from such things.

In other words, let’s indeed give thanks for life’s positive experiences—especially since they came as gifts for good we have done in the past. But, equally as important, let’s also give thanks for whatever we can learn from life’s negative experiences. That way, no matter what happens in our lives, we are practicing healthy gratitude—which then helps us to be released from the world and our ego-based expectations. And besides, giving thanks is one of love’s simplest forms of expression and draws us closer to the heart of God.