Gratitude & the Power of Aspiring.

Via Molly Gordon
on Jul 9, 2012
get elephant's newsletter

As important as gratitude is, the reality is that we don’t always experience as much of it as we might wish.

This got me thinking.

How do we relate to gratitude when we aren’t feeling grateful? That led to musing about the gap between what we aspire to and what we embody on any given day. And that led to wondering about alternatives to self-criticism and self-doubt. After all, it isn’t very helpful to layer self-judgment on top of a lack of gratitude.

Because here’s the deal, unless we understand aspiration in a generous and generative way, our aspirations become grist for the self-critical mill.

We end up always on our own cases, endlessly dissatisfied with our failures to be endlessly compassionate, flexible, intelligent, patient, resourceful, vigorous, visionary…

It makes me tired just to write about it.

Notice what happens if we shift from requiring ourselves to be virtuous to simply aspiring to virtue. I mean, aspiring to be compassionate, flexible, etc., etc. says really good things about you. You’ve gotta love someone who truly yearns to embody those qualities.

An interesting twist.

The problem arises when we hold them as minimum requirements instead of as honorable goals. Notice what happens when you shift from requiring yourself to perfectly embody gratitude and other virtues to embracing and celebrating your heartfelt aspiration to embody them. For me it’s been a powerful and liberating shift from an imposed and impossible standard to an interior and irresistible call.

It’s important to distinguish aspiration from wishful thinking.

True aspiration implies a real commitment, a connection with the quality or result we aspire to. Far from being a wimpy fall back position, aspiration honors the yearnings of our souls to be great and shapes our choices so that we move in the direction of that greatness.

When I acknowledge aspiration, I’m just as far from perfect as ever, but I experience that distant perfection as my true and eventual home. In one sense, I have no idea how that can be true, given what I know about my limitations. Yet given what I am coming to know of my aspirations, I know that my homecoming is inevitable.

So certain is this sense of inevitability that I believe we can rest in our aspirations. We can find in them a still point to ground and focus our sometimes frantic efforts to learn and grow. Our aspirations are both compass and map, at least at this stage of the journey.

Editor: Lynn Hasselberger

Like elephant spirituality on facebook.


About Molly Gordon

Molly Gordon is a business sage and trickster for the spiritually and psychologically savvy. Her lifetime project is to wake up. A Master Certified Coach and a Certified Facilitator of The Work of Byron Katie, she’s passionate about using and teaching the opportunities for personal transformation in everyday life and work. / Molly and her husband, Miles live in Suquamish, Washington, with Bolivia the wonder cat and three hens: Viola Swamp, Sophie, and Feathergrain. When not hanging out with their astonishingly talented grandchildren, she gardens, reads, cycles, and tools around Puget Sound on a bright yellow paddleboard. / You can subscribe to Molly’s weekly ezine, Authentic Promotion, and read her blog at You can also find her on Facebook at and on Twitter at


6 Responses to “Gratitude & the Power of Aspiring.”

  1. […] utter to him as I walked past was, “Thank you sir!” He didn’t seem prepared for my unexpected gratitude and so the moment melted naturally into the rest of […]

  2. […] feared this might never happen—that I might never wake up with my heart spontaneously full of gratitude for another day no matter what it brought, content to lay in bed steeped in my night dreams, slowly […]

  3. […] thing that my dad does now, at the end of almost every day, is take an inventory of all the good things that happened that […]

  4. […] a scientific fact that thoughts of gratitude make you happier. The opening chant is a prayer of gratitude and cultivating these feelings leads to more positive […]

  5. […] Gratitude & the Power of Aspiring. ( Rate this:Like this:LikeBe the first to like this. Tagged: Aristotle Onassis, aspiration, bahiyah shabazz, empowerment, entrepreneur, motivation, personal development, personal growth Posted in: Improved Results ← Debt in retirement: It works for some Be the first to start a conversation […]

  6. […] the discussion and to the customer. Timing, however, is critical. With skillful questions you can help the customer discover for himself the value of your capabilities and then you have established a context in which you can […]