Everyone knows gratitude as thankfulness, though we also regard it as a process through which to increase spiritual power, thus get more out of life and progress toward self-actualization.

Commonly, those on the spiritual path to self-awareness experience three stages of gratitude.

The first stage of gratitude involves acknowledging there's more to gratitude than merely maintaining good manners. As a child you learned (we hope) to say thank you. Later, as a mature adult, in the second stage you begin to recognize the power of gratitude. The third stage is a consistently strong expression of gratitude, to the point of it becoming a bridge to a more potent way of living.

While you may live in the third stage occasionally or even a lot of the time, it's rare for a person to constantly be in this advanced stage of the expression of gratitude.

You're not alone if you find yourself stuck in the second stage most of the time. It takes a lot of practice to exist in the third stage.

Below we list seven ways to express more gratitude:

1. Forgive anyone and everyone who has ever hurt you. Stop holding grudges, which extinguishes the power of gratitude and hurts you. Recognize that you're not forgiving for their sake, but for yours. You're not letting them off the hook because if it's their karma to endure payback, the law of karma, in our view, will take care of it for you. You don't have to forget, but it will serve you to forgive.

2. Consider the philosophy that everyone serves you perfectly. In doing so, it's much easier to let go, forgive, and be appreciative of the experience for what it taught you.

3. Let go of your expectations. True gratitude doesn't involve fixating on what you think you deserve. It's about accepting the result of your efforts and whatever appears in your life, rewarding or challenging. Letting go of your expectations helps to strengthen the power of gratitude exponentially.

4. Start with the past. Go back to your childhood and family memories. Be ever so thankful for your parents, siblings, other family members, teachers, neighbors, and everyone else in your life. Be grateful for all the experiences, good and bad. They're what helped make you what you are today, and you can use this spiritual technique--the power of gratitude--to make your life even more rewarding.

5. Focus on the little things. Little things can help to spark the momentum of gratitude, like a favorite pair of jeans, the pleasure of seeming to stop time through the process of writing or working on a project, that new health tip, or a new friend. Or how about being grateful for a good night's sleep or a beautiful day? There's a lot to be grateful for!

6. Emotionalize your gratitude. Feel it, don't just think it. The energy of emotions behind gratitude magnifies its power.

7. Make your health a priority. It's a lot easier to maintain the flow of gratitude when you get enough rest, eat a healthful diet, and exercise regularly. Meditation also helps to keep you in the present and appreciate life rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.

The three stages of the power of gratitude, realizing there's more to gratitude than saying thank you, understanding its inherent potency and starting to capitalize on it, and then ultimately maintaining unwavering gratitude, enhances your spiritual power. Cultivate the power of gratitude, and its ally, faith, and advance to a higher quality of living.

Copyright © Scott Petullo, Stephen Petullo

Author's Bio: 

Scott Petullo and Stephen Petullo offer vital, 
yet sensible and practical
 spiritual guidance and tools, including their Spiritual Detox and Let Go MP3 meditation audios. Get their free report: 13 Spiritual and New Age Myths and 13 Other Spiritual Laws Besides the Law of Attraction http://www.spiritualgrowthnow.com