How an attitude of gratitude can change your entire life
On an average day, it can often seem as though life is simply slipping us by. We wake up, have a shower, have breakfast and then get on with whatever we have planned for the day. Often we are not truly present to what we are doing or even why we’re doing it, but are instead living as if on autopilot. And unfortunately for us, most of the time this isn’t a plane flying through sunshine and blue skies. The vast majority of us, when we are thinking, are almost programmed to think about all the things that aren’t working in our lives, all the things that are wrong and what we don’t have. This is to some extent human nature and a part of life. However most of us aren’t even aware just how much we are doing this and how much it can rob us of happiness and peace.
Whilst having goals and ambitions can be a very positive, healthy aspect of life, it’s when striving for what we want and focusing on what we feel we lack becomes so consuming that we are unable to enjoy the present moment, that this ‘lens’ – our way of looking at life – becomes a problem. When we put our focus onto lack – whether it’s a lack of time, money, friends or whatever else – the mind will naturally expand on this and find more things that you apparently ‘lack.’ The mind is if nothing else a loyal servant – if you consistently focus on thoughts of negativity and lack, your mind will scurry around finding more evidence for such thoughts, and the cycle will continue. Conversely, you can change this way of looking at the world to something more life-affirming, but you must be willing to put in the work. What if we were able to view our lives with a different lens instead? One that was more positive, more grounded in the present and one that would reap us more blessings than we could ever imagine? This lens is available to every single one of us right now, and you’d be surprised at the simple and palpable differences it can bring to your life. The name for this lens is gratitude.
Gratitude is so powerful in its effects that by adding this as a daily habit, you can basically turn any negative emotional state into a positive one at will. Gratitude is simply the act of giving thanks and acknowledging that which we already have, have received in the past or are yet to receive in the future. Honestly ask yourself this – when was the last time you stopped for a moment and thought about all the many wondrous things you have in your life? Or the wonder of life itself? There are so many things to be grateful for that the list is almost endless. Yet as I mentioned earlier, the majority of us are not programmed to think in this way and thus at first, the idea of thinking of things to be grateful for can seem almost absurd and very difficult. It is a habit, a frame of mind that can be cultivated through continuous daily practise.
Why be grateful on a daily basis? Why not just carry on the way we are? The benefits of gratitude are numerous. First of all, the emotion of gratitude takes us out of the mindframe of what we don’t have, to one of appreciation and acknowledgement of what we’ve already got. This anchors us powerfully into the present. By focusing on and being grateful for what we already have, we can balance our perspective and adopt a more harmonious approach to our lives. Being grateful not only makes us feel amazing, but it also taps us into flow, into harmony with life and the world around us. Negativity shuts the door to good coming into our lives, whereas gratitude is a state of openness for more good things to come to us – simply by being grateful, you will start to notice just how many good things you already have and will open the door for more to come. We can still strive for goals and future achievements, and have a true appreciation of what we already have and how good our lives already are. We can realise that actually, our lives are much better than we may have previously thought. With this new-found balance and sense of perspective, you might just find those goals come more easily too.
Secondly, an attitude of gratitude will naturally encourage your mind to seek out more things to be grateful for. This is the most immediate example of the law of attraction you can ever see – think about something you’re grateful for with enough emotion behind it, and your mind will find something else that matches that thought frequency – something else to be grateful for. I won’t go too much into frequencies here, but to summarise, your frequency is basically the emotional state that you are putting out, or ’emitting’ to the world, a bit like a radio. If your frequency is one of negativity and lack (by thinking such thoughts), then your mind will automatically find more things to confirm and back up that frequency, and this is what you will attract. The opposite is true when your frequency is one of gratitude. This is why it’s really important that you not only say ‘thank you,’ but really feel gratitude with all your heart for what you have. Otherwise you’ll merely be paying lip service and won’t change much about how you actually feel.
The emotion of gratitude, when done properly, is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. It is a warm feeling radiating outwards from your heart, and brings peace, harmony and balance into your current state. It eliminates negativity and fear and is one of the most powerful emotions we have access to. To get into this emotional frequency, one simple exercise I often use is this – close your eyes and bring your attention to your heart. Feel it beating, feel the warmth radiating from the focus you’re giving it and begin to imagine breathing from this area, breathing from your heart space. Then, after about a minute, think of something or someone you’re really grateful for, and most importantly, why you’re grateful for it/them. Thinking of reasons why you’re grateful intensifies and amplifies the positive feelings of appreciation massively. Do this for as long as you can sustain the feeling and see how you feel afterwards.
In order for gratitude to become anchored into your psyche, it must be done on a regular basis. This is why it’s a good idea to start each day with some kind of gratitude practise. For example, I start the day by writing down 10 things I’m grateful for – it could be something that happened the day before, something to be thankful for now, or even something in the future – being appreciative for something yet to happen. Writing down what you have to be grateful for is a powerful way of increasing the emotional charge behind it and finding more things to appreciate. Doing this on a regular basis will start to make you a more appreciative person in general and will change the way you view your life and the world.
You can also be grateful for things that any ‘normal’ person wouldn’t even think to be grateful for. If you’re dealing with a difficult person, for example, there could actually be something to be grateful for in the situation. What might this person be teaching you, even if it’s simply not to allow yourself to be dragged into their negativity? There’s light in every situation in life – we simply have to train ourselves to look for it.
So, next time you’re stressing about the details of life, or feeling down for any reason, try taking a moment to sit with yourself and thinking what you could be grateful for. It may be hard at first, but in time it will come more and more easily until you can quite quickly tap into this emotional state. The benefits for yourself will be huge – as will they for those who know you, who will come to see you as someone who has an upbeat attitude towards life no matter what is happening.
And finally, in the spirit of this article, thank you so much for reading!
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