Is gratitude the prescription for inner peace?
We’re talking about the power of gratitude with Will Pye, author of The Gratitude Prescription; Harnessing the Power of Thankfulness for Healing and Happiness.
Having been diagnosed with a brain tumour, and almost loosing everything, Will’s journey took him to a profound place of embracing everything in life as a gift. Here, we talk with Will about how possible that really is, and his belief that gratitude is the best prescription for peace and happiness.
Head + Heart: How did you come to 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 practising 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. Releasing 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 form 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 , 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.
Explore Will’s teachings
Will offers a nice overview of Radical Gratitude here and in this video speaks more in depth about Radical Gratitude as a Spiritual Practice. Overall, in many ways, Will teaches that gratitude is a form of embodiment, helping us embody the deepest truth of our lives. Send me a DM if you have any of your own thoughts on gratitude to share!