We’ve come across the teachings of Will Pye quite a lot lately and have become very intrigued by his philosophy that gratitude is central to finding peace in this life.
Is gratitude the prescription for inner peace?
Will’s first book, Blessed with a Brain Tumor discusses his insight that everything in life is a gift, an unlikely perspective after being diagnosed with a terminal condition. However, embracing everything in life as a gift is a perspective that Will has come to embody and teach from.
His second book, The Gratitude Prescription; Harnessing the Power of Thankfulness for Healing and Happiness was released in May, and we’re going to make it our very first book club read.
Would you like to read along with us this month?
If you decide to join our book club, you’ll have an opportunity to send in any questions for Will and we’ll share his responses back in a follow up interview!
Now, to give you a sense of Will and his beautiful teachings, we’re excited to share the following Q&A. Enjoy- and let us know if you’ll be reading along!
Head + Heart: Why did you choose gratitude as your awakening practice?
Will Pye: I initially chose gratitude because it worked as an effective means of reducing my suffering from depression in my early 20s. Having recognized that the depression was intertwined with my thinking I began practicing more helpful thinking, concentrating on the good, in my life, and that I am.
Latterly gratitude chose me. Following years of Zen practice a deep appreciation for being arose. Realizing the emptiness of the self-identity there was not much left to be ungrateful for!
My life’s difficulties, challenges and pains have been my greatest opportunities for growth and awakening so I came to teach and write about Radical Gratitude – a way of being where we embrace and appreciate all of life, each moment, breath, every aspect of our being.
H + H: What are some of the things gratitude does to our bodies on the physiological and emotional and spiritual levels?
Will: Research from many studies across the world details the physiological, psychological and indeed sociological benefits that result from people practising gratitude. The most common format of gratitude practice is to write 3 things in the morning and then again at night. This simple practice is remarkably powerful. The Greater Good Science Center in Berkeley has a website which features much of this gratitude research and great resources.
Spiritually I would suggest gratitude is Truth. To be grateful, to appreciate being, to see the good in our pain, grief, sorrow, shame, guilt, ungratefulness, in our success and failure alike is to align with our Source, to see as God sees. Life is gifted!
H+H: What’s your take on awakening in general? So many are seeking answers and trying different things but how does one know how to choose a practice or teacher that is right for them? Any thoughts here?
Will: Big question! I would say that one knows, even if one does not know that one knows! Our gut and heart brain know. Our body knows. Thus any sincere and deep desire or intention to awaken, to know Truth, will be successful. We’ll be guided to teachers, experiences etc. as necessary. I would encourage choosing a path, such as Zen, or Yoga, or Qi Gong and dive deep into that path or paths (these 3 in my experience integrate very powerfully).
Paradoxically it might be trying everything that allows us to discover what works for us. I would be wary of teachers where anything of the guru game is being played. Ultimately, and somewhat paradoxically, we are on our own in this path to Unity, into Oneness, and life itself is the most intelligent, powerful and effective teacher.
We’ll leave you with the following links so you can explore Will’s teachings for yourself:
Will offers a nice overview of Radical Gratitude here and in this video speaks more in depth about Radical Gratitude as a Spiritual Practice. In this video, Will discusses How To Make Decisions with the Heart. Overall, in many ways, Will teaches that gratitude is a form of embodiment, helping us embody the deepest truth of our lives.
Do you want to join our book club?
We’d love to invite you to join our casual book club and read along with us in August. In early September, you’ll have the chance to share any burning questions about the book with us, and we’ll have Will answer them for you. Grab your copy and let’s get reading!