I must admit, being grateful and feeling sincere gratitude was somewhat foreign to me for some time. I felt I had what I had because I earned it or deserved it. Okay, true to a degree, but what about everything else in my life as gifts from Spirit, friends, family and my community? Just being present for life itself? Certainly I deserve these gifts too—we all do. Did I work hard to earn them? Not exactly, but in my consistent choice of actions to appreciate others around me and to focus on the positives in life, I have attracted these gifts and have magnified them with more gratitude. When I examined these choices and actions up close, I began to understand the effect of gratitude on my life and consequent successes.
My Gratitude Practice: Each morning, as I awake and am still in a relaxed state, I feel what I am truly grateful for at that very moment. No incredible task required, I just allow myself to feel what is inside and place my focus on the good stuff.
Geoffrey James does a great job of explaining gratitude in this article, as he compares it to any other muscle requiring regular exercise. Our muscles need activity for physical health, our brain uses reading and problem solving to flex its potential, and so gratitude is the exercise of choice for emotional well being. This muscle may not be strong at first, but, as the article points out, with practice it becomes powerful.
Let’s Workout: “I AM Grateful” is a great start. My challenge for each of us is to list at least five things or moments, big or small, that we truly feel grateful for in our lives. Do this for 20 days and soon you will have 100. Instead of simply listing off what you ‘should’, take a minute to notice your body’s physical reaction. Think about the things you love or moments of satisfaction that relax your body, create a feeling of content, and may even make your heart swell a bit—that’s the good stuff.
This is a practice my fellow leadership coach and friend Stephen McGhee suggests in his writings. I will suggest that the act of getting in touch with gratitude will not only serve you, but also serve others in your life as they see the light in your face.