So much has been said about gratitude lately that I almost didn’t write this article. Then, I stopped and listened to my internal dialogue. Did I really hear an inner voice saying that my readers might 'get tired' of the message? As I let that voice go, it was abundantly clear that the energy of Gratitude clearly wants to be expressed.

One of the greatest gifts of Gratitude is the receptivity and openness that it creates in our hearts. Have you ever noticed a greater degree of expansiveness when you have identified and made intimate contact with this quality? Gratitude changes us. From an Enneagram perspective, Gratitude is an expression of the Essential Nature of Type Seven, the Enthusiast, and that energy within us.

Have you noticed where you are and what you are doing when you experience Gratitude? I find that it requires awareness and an internal stillness. Truly, it can only be experienced in the present moment. On a very human level, it challenges any temptation toward self-pity, victimization, self-grandiosity or other form of narcissism, and uplifts us to our higher nature. Ultimately, Gratitude is an act of being a conscious partner in the play of the Universe. It grows our perspective of what it means to be alive. Intentional Gratitude is very simply, transformative.

There is a “continuum” of gratitude consisting of 6 dimensions. Each is identified below, along with a particular example or practice.

1) Recognize specific aspects of your life for which you are grateful.
Identify some of the specific aspects of life for which you are grateful.
For example, set aside two-three times/week to reflect on and write about what you are grateful for and why you are grateful for that particular experience. Allow yourself to feel the gratitude, so that you are not just thinking about it, but also noticing how it affects your heart.

2) Identify a ‘present moment’ awareness for which you are grateful; about yourself, about others, about your opportunities or about your life.
For example, when you are in a particular situation at work, at home, with a friend or family member, you might ask yourself the following:
What am I particularly grateful for about this situation?

3) Express gratitude to others.
Identify 10 people (if you have trouble with this, start with identifying one or two people) who have had a positive impact on your life.
How could you express your appreciation to these important people?
For example, you might write a personal letter thanking each person for his or her specific influence on you and send it by snail mail. Can you imagine the impact that would have on them?

4) Find the gifts in difficult circumstances or difficult relationships and experience gratitude for those gifts.
For example, see a person perceived as being the source of difficulty as a ‘teacher’ of something that you are learning. Asking yourself, “What is this person here to teach me?” is a powerful question. Many of my clients have found this to be a potent source of change in their lives.

5) Receive gratitude from others.
Practice receiving gratitude and thanks from others.
Sometimes, this can feel more difficult than expressing your gratitude. Even if this is so, acknowledge it and experiment with accepting positive regard and appreciation from others. (I know. For some of you, this breaks all your old rules.)

6) Be a person of gratitude.
When you practice recognizing the gifts of life, expressing thanks and receiving the gratitude of others, you may notice that you’ll experience a qualitative difference in your life. You start to live from this quality. You become a force for this healing quality.

This continuum of recognizing—to acting upon—to being/living from—naturally will begin to re-orient your life toward more expansiveness.

I would love to hear from you regarding your experiences with this continuum.

Author's Bio: 

Howe-Murphy is author of the acclaimed self-discovery book: Deep Coaching:Using the Enneagram as a Catalyst for Profound Change (available at She is a global leader in Enneagram studies, a certified coach and a Riso-Hudson Enneagram teacher: Earning her doctorate from the University of San Francisco she directs the Enneagram Institute of the San Francisco Bay Area.