Nine Powerful Takeaways from “Attitudes of Gratitude” by M. J. Ryan

“Gratitude reminds us to be like plants, which turn toward, not away, from the light.” -M.J. Ryan, Attitudes of Gratitude.

I’m grateful(!) to have recently discovered the book Attitudes of Gratitude by M. J. Ryan. The author shares many facets of gratitude that I’d never considered. After reading this book, I felt so hopeful! For me, gratitude has always felt very fleeting.

I would feel it one moment, then the feeling would disappear for a few days. Here, the author brings gratitude to a newer, more durable place within. She provides a roadmap that ensures gratitude will touch all aspects of your life.

Here are my top nine takeaways:

1. Gratitude holds the key to transforming your world every day.

“Gratitude is not just the key. It’s a magic key—all you need to do is to use it, and the world is suddenly transformed into a beautiful wonderland, in which you are invited to play.” – M.J. Ryan, Attitudes of Gratitude.

Gratitude is a lens through which we can view our entire world. It expands beyond all the ups and downs we experience daily. You can view an ordinary scene through magical (grateful) lenses.

I can remember feeling sadness while looking at a beautiful flower garden and thinking, “Here I am, looking at this garden and feeling this way. I wish I could see this scene differently.”

Through gratitude, the entire world delights you with all the colors, textures, and light around you. Seeing the moon, the stars, and the sunrise can fill your heart with gratefulness.

You can see excitement, joy, and fulfillment when you tap into the gratitude frequency. This turns our entire world into a beautiful wonderland.

woman smiling and grateful

2. Gratitude involves accepting and appreciating what is.

“Gratitude makes our world feel complete and right. When we feel the fullness of gratitude, we accept life just as it is—however messy, complicated, and drawn-outside-the-lines that may be.” -M.J. Ryan, Attitudes of Gratitude.

There is a connection between gratitude and acceptance. It’s almost as if gratitude is the higher level of acceptance. Because not only do we accept everything in our lives, but we also add a layer of appreciation.

One of my favorite teachers, Byron Katie, says, “Reality – the way that is, exactly as it is, in every moment – is always kind.”

Our stories in our minds, mistaken beliefs, etc., might lead us to think differently. But, as M. J. Ryan says, gratitude encourages us to embrace and accept it all. We can find that sense of contentment in the middle of whatever happens in our lives.

3. Gratitude brings us into the present moment.

“I realized that this total and complete absorption in the present moment is available to us all when we choose to let gratitude wash over us uninhibitedly.” -M.J. Ryan, Attitudes of Gratitude.

This quote came from a poignant moment in the book where the author describes the total joy her newborn daughter embodies while drinking warm milk from a bottle. Her adopted infant daughter spent her earliest days neglected. She drank watered-down milk and had sores on her body from lack of care.

I love how this example shows how much we can learn from a tiny baby. She could release her past and surrender to a flood of gratitude when offered this simple nourishment. We also can choose gratitude and allow our past to drift away. While immersed in a state of gratitude, we are right here, right now, enjoying the present moment. 

Mother/ daughter expressing gratitude

4. Gratitude opens our hearts to others in an honest moment exchange.

“When you say, “Thank you” and mean it, rather than saying it out of the social convention, your heart instinctively opens to the person. At that moment, you experience your connection to one another, even if you never lay eyes on each other again.” -M.J. Ryan, Attitudes of Gratitude.

So often, when we’re given a compliment or a small gesture of kindness, we are too blocked to receive it. When we open our hearts enough to feel the energy of the compassion directed toward us, it opens the door to connection. Gratitude is like energy flowing between open hearts, with both the giver and the receiver benefitting.

5. In gratitude, we realize we are part of a larger, loving picture.

“We recognize that we cannot live outside of the great web of life that lovingly holds us in its nurturing embrace, and we vow to protect the sanctity of that web.” -M.J. Ryan, Attitudes of Gratitude.

When we take the time to appreciate the fantastic ways our lives intersect with the lives of others, we can feel grateful for the interconnectedness of it all. 

We enjoyed the nurturing, stabilizing, loving energy that holds everything together. We realize that there is no lack. And that we’re all part of this masterfully planned matrix. For this, we’re grateful.

dancing mother/ daughter

6. With gratitude, we open ourselves to becoming part of the great dance.

“As we give thanks, our spirits join with the Great Spirit in the dance of life that is the interplay between giver and receiver.” -M.J. Ryan, Attitudes of Gratitude.

This point hit me the most. It’s easy to take for granted the endless blessings that always come to us. But when we stop to give thanks for the gifts we’ve been given, we can come closer to spirit. When I think of my connection to my higher power, I forget this.

We recognize that we are one. We see our part in the dance. And we can see and feel the energy and blessings passing back and forth between ourselves and our higher power.

7. To feel gratitude, we must feel worthy of receiving the gifts before us.

“It cannot exist if you don’t recognize that you have received a gift, and it can’t exist if you don’t feel worthy of getting the gift.” -M.J. Ryan, Attitudes of Gratitude.

Gratitude requires a sense of worthiness. If we don’t feel worthy of the many gifts we receive, we deflect them from our consciousness. We must acknowledge “I am here, and I am so grateful” because gratitude plays a vital role in receiving.

We open up to the higher experience of feeling worthy of all the experiences, generosities, love, and connection coming our way.

woman practicing forgiveness

8. Forgiveness and gratitude are connected.

“Forgiveness leads to gratitude, and not just gratitude in general but, in a beautifully healing movement, to an outpouring of appreciation for the very things that caused such pain in the first place.” -M.J. Ryan, Attitudes of Gratitude.

This has been a lifelong process for me to embrace and understand. It reminds me of The Four Agreements, where Don Miguel Ruiz says, “Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally… Nothing other people do is because of you.” So, we forgive others for being who they are. The pain and hurt are our business to work through – it’s not so much about them.

When we see things that aren’t even personal (which they never are), we look forward to feelings of gratitude. Only then can you think, “Interactions with this person awoke me to areas of my heart that needed healing. I’ve since been able to care for my tender heart in ways I needed.”

You can look back at your life, feel grateful, and say, “Thank you for everything!” You would not be who you are today without these experiences. Forgiveness is the gateway to gratitude.

woman in state of gratitude

9. Gratitude is a place we can inhabit. It’s a state of consciousness that resides within.

“When we live from this place long enough, we begin actually to inhabit gratitude, our every inhalation and exhalation a breath of thanksgiving no matter what is going on in the external world.” -M.J. Ryan, Attitudes of Gratitude.

Robert Emmons, Ph.D., says, “Gratitude has the power to heal, energize, and change our lives. It’s not simply that gratitude brings more happiness or better health. It’s much more than that. It literally breathes new life into us! And society needs more people who are alive.”

Gratitude can take us even further beyond happiness. It’s possible to live in this space of peace, acceptance, and deep appreciation for what is. That’s a goal worth setting!


Ps: So, do you know anyone who might enjoy a dose of gratitude? Please share this with them!

(This story was originally published on November 18, 2021, and has been updated for thoroughness and clarity.)

Are you interested in learning more about the author, M.J. Ryan? Read more here!

And, for an additional dose of gratitude, see my favorite quotes from Gratitude Revealed here.


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