Being grateful all the time isn’t easy. But it’s when you least feel thankful that you are most in need of what gratitude can give you: perspective. Gratitude can transform any situation. It alters your vibration, moving you from negative energy to positive. It’s the quickest, easiest most powerful way to effect change in your life – This I know for sure.” – Oprah
Over the last several years I have learned a lot about what it means to be grateful and how to make it a top priority in my life. Expressing gratitude towards myself and others has probably been the single most significant change I have implemented (and let’s be honest, in the last 5 years there have been a lot of changes!).
You don't have to believe it to try it
I know some of you may not fully “buy into” the idea that expressing gratitude can be life changing but I’ll bet you cannot find a single reason why one should not strive to be grateful. I smile as I type this because I often talk with coaching clients about trying something they are not really sure will work. Consistently, I urge them to “simply do it” whether they believe it will work or not. Guess what, it almost always works!
You see, no matter what you believe, nothing negative can come from gratitude. So there really is no risk at all in giving it a try. It’s a lot like kindness on that front. Both kindness and gratitude bring people together, and they both have a real impact.
Gratitude is the pathway to deep happiness.
It brings peace and contentment. When you take the time to focus on the good in your life, no matter how small, your eyes will open to other goodness around you. Basically, gratitude has a snowball effect. The more you express it, the more you see it. The more you see it, the more awe-inspiring emotion you will experience. The idea is simple. Gratitude, quite literally, changes lives.
I’ve said before that “Joy shared is happiness returned.” It’s still so, so true. Expressing and sharing gratitude has the same, powerful, effect! Your gratitude can change someone else’s life, too!
The impact of outwardly expressed gratitude is oftentimes unbelievable. It can make that big of a difference! When we share our joys with others, they are invited to celebrate alongside us. Through sharing in joy, they are inevitably encompassed by a powerful force that transcends our day-to-day lives. Living in a space of gratefulness elevates our moods and has direct power to change our perception of the world around us.
I enjoy hearing what other people are grateful for so much that I am in a facebook group dedicated only to expressing gratitude and I created an entire episode of The Brave Files Podcast dedicated to it. In fact, I strongly encourage you to click this link and go listen to the episode right now. I promise you it will fill you with all sorts of wonderful feelings and provide a little connection, motivation, and inspiration along the way.
I fully understand that some days and situations suck. It is silly to believe we will never have negative emotions. The real magic in reaching down deep for gratitude is it the ability to shut the negative emotions down and not them own you.
Here are a few situations in which you may feel hopeless but looking for gratitude can cause a deep impact.
- You have a flat tire. This is a real bitch. No one has time for this. Be grateful that you did not get into an accident with a blown tire.
- You got in an argument with a dear friend. This feels bad. None of us want to hurt or be hurt by someone we care about. Be grateful that you are capable of feeling deep emotions and that you have someone in your life that is special enough to want to fix the situation.
- You are stuck in a serious traffic jam from a car accident. This one gets me every time. I have places to go and people to see and kids to parent and this frustrates me. Then I remember that I could have been in the car accident. I am so grateful to be stuck in traffic and not in the ambulance. I will get to go home and hug my kids.
It may take time
If you are new to practicing gratitude I fully understand that it takes time. A new practice doesn’t always simply take hold. First, you have to begin with a plan; you need a system and specific goals in place. I am a big fan of gratitude journaling (or creating lists) and I have almost all of my client begin this practice as well. Writing down things that you are most grateful for changes something in your brain; when you change your brain, you change your life. And guess what, there is serious science behind this! Positive Psychology Is the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play.
So, when you practice gratitude you aren’t just thinking about feeling grateful; you are physically logging it. Scheduling time every single day to think about and acknowledge that which you are most grateful for is the first step to success. And you know how I feel about a schedule – Time block the hell out of that gratitude!
Finally, if you practice gratitude and celebrate joy with others, everyone will be changed. Your energy levels will skyrocket, and your drive to push through will increase. Gratitude keeps us moving when the going gets tough. It will carry you through times of challenge and heartache and give you much-needed perspective. It will even motivate you through blocks in your business. A simple change in mindset can alter the entire way you look at the world around you.
Gratitude is the key to success.
All you need to do is express it.