Matt Kahn on How to Be Grateful Even When You Don't Want to Be
Matt Kahn, author of Whatever Arises, Love That, is a spiritual teacher and highly attuned empathic healer whose often humorous videos are a YouTube sensation. Through insight, sensory ability, and heart-centered teaching, he assists energetically sensitive beings in healing the body, awakening the soul, and transforming reality through the power of love.
1440: Gratitude is a big concept on the spiritual path. What do you think gratitude is really all about? How does it show up in your life?
Matt Kahn: Gratitude is the recognition of value, and the more often we recognize value in our lives, the more often we realize that we are all one. Because our inner and outer realities are interconnected, if I see value outside of me, then that can only increase the value within me.
So, if I take time, as a practice, to be grateful for all the beautiful gifts that life has brought me—be it my partner, my friends, my abundance, my life purpose, the food in my refrigerator, or even the cushion on my couch—that also sends vibrations of energy to people around the world who are making do with far less and increasing the likelihood that they can have more to uplift their circumstances.
Gratitude starts with being thankful for all the goodness we have.
But the advanced level of gratitude is learning to change our relationship to the bad things and becoming grateful for them.
This is something I’ve taught myself over many years. If something that I perceive to be negative happens, no matter what I think about it, whether it was planned or spontaneous, expected or unexpected, fulfilling or frustrating, the first thing I say is thank you.
It is my way of appreciating in advance how this change or loss or unexpected gain is going to make me even better on my mission, shine brighter as a soul, and be even wiser and more of service to my family and the entire world. Thank you in advance for this gift, I think, and if I can assume it is a gift, then only gifts will come of it.
When we don’t assume that everything is a gift, then we land—by default—in an unconscious state where life is happening to us instead of for us.
1440: What are some of the hang-ups we encounter around feeling and expressing gratitude?
Matt Kahn: I think one of the hang-ups is that we reserve gratitude for when life becomes the way we want it to be. We’re not grateful for the chance to experience the things that ensure we confront our limiting ideas and painful feelings.
We are often caught in a standoff with life that says: I’ll be the most grateful when everything changes to my desired specifications.
If only we could embrace the path of surrender that says: Look, life’s going to be what life’s going to be. My freedom is not to control the outcome. My freedom is to see it from a point of view that makes my body feel safe and my nervous system feel relaxed.
And if I’m seeing life in a way that doesn’t make me feel safe, then maybe the way I’m seeing it needs to be questioned. And so, we have spiritual inquiry to help assist us on the path of surrender, where we can train ourselves as evolving souls in physical form to be grateful for everything that comes our way and to know that the more grateful we are doesn’t mean we become people who have fewer tragedies.
It’s really about embracing a sense of thank you for what life brings me.
Whether my ego says it’s good, bad, or otherwise, thank you for this gift. May I receive it as a gift. And thank you for making me who I’m meant to be, and as I become who I was born to be, I will begin to feel the way I’ve always wanted to feel, whether or not the things I want ever come my way.
The practice of gratitude gives us the opportunity to go beyond the law of attraction, where most people only want different objects and different things because they think it will make them feel different if they have those things. In reality, we can actually feel the way we want to feel whether or not we get the objects that we’ve attached to those feelings.
We can actually feel a lot better a lot sooner.
1440: What is the connection between self-love and gratitude?
Matt Kahn: I think gratitude is what helps us develop the worthiness to know how much love we need, how worthy we are to receive love, and how valuable our love is, so that we can give it as a gift to other people. Gratitude is what awakens the worthiness that allows us to say: I am of purpose to the world—not once I find my elusive life purpose, not once I’ve written a best-selling book—but right here, right now. However I may see myself, there is a light within me that can heal and transform lives if I allow myself to be worthy enough to first receive it and then give it to others.
So, for me, gratitude is how we develop the worthiness to both receive the light of the universe (love) and be able to give ourselves the type of nurturing attention, emotional sustenance, and personal support that perhaps other people aren’t meant to give us.
Gratitude is the building block of self-love, and the worthiness that we awaken within us allows us to become the light of love.
1440: What are the things in your life that are easy to be grateful for? What are the challenges?
Matt Kahn: The first thing I’m always grateful for is my breath. My breath is my companion. I have a relationship with my breath. My breath and I are one. My breath and I are the beloved. And so, for me, my breath is everything. I’m primarily grateful for my breath, as from my alignment of breath, everything in my reality comes to be.
In the past, it was hard to be grateful when I would be nice and kind to someone, and I would be received with less kindness or a certain amount of harshness from another person. When I was growing up, it was very difficult to understand how my instinct was to be loving and kind and how anyone could ever have the instinct of being harsh, nasty, or mean. As a child, that really hurt me and really affected me.
But at this point in my life, there isn’t anything that’s hard to be grateful for. And it’s a very strange place to be when I see things on the news, or I see people living in very difficult situations. But whenever I see something difficult, I immediately go into: Let me be the blessings of energetic resolve that brings positive change to what I’m seeing.
1440: Do you think the instinct for gratitude is one we possess naturally or is it something we have to develop?
Matt Kahn: I think we possess it naturally, but I think it’s buried under a lot of layers of defensiveness. And I think that the instinct of most conditioned human beings is to decide what to be grateful for—to look at everything and think: Is this something I should be grateful for?
Gratitude has to be woken up because it’s buried underneath conditioning—kind of like every adult once was a child. Innocence is within the adult body, but sometimes as adults we lose sight of it based on the demands and stress and details of our lives.
So, we need to be returned to—and reacquainted with—the innocence of gratitude.
It’s so easy for most people to look around and say: How can I be grateful when things look the way they look? But in reality, our ability to become grateful can actually shift the way we relate to the things we don’t like or can’t face.