Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

The School of Gratitude

February 15, 2018

gratitudeI’m thankful

for the toes on my left foot. Why would I say such a thing? Because I lost the toes on my right foot! (Be careful with lawn mowers!)

I’ve written before about how one of the greatest secrets to having joy in this life is to feel and express gratitude. It can be hard to feel gratitude (or joy) when you’re depressed, discouraged, or overwhelmed with physical and/or emotional pain. The problem is… when you’re in a deep dark pit or your mind is completely enveloped in some kind of crushing stress, how do you “look on the bright side” and start working your way to a better place? It can be difficult to take even a tiny step in the right direction.

One thing that I’ve learned in life is that you never EVER say that things can’t get any worse. The universe will be glad to prove you wrong. I don’t care how bad things are. They can ALWAYS get worse in some way. Also, when you say that, you’re implying that there’s absolutely nothing to be grateful for. That’s a slap in the face to God and everybody on the planet.

Every successful person will tell you that your attitude and outlook on life has everything to do with your ability to set and achieve meaningful goals. However, that can be a real challenge when life has beaten you down and all you can see any more are the negative aspects of your life. So let’s start with some basics.

There are lots of things in life that we don’t appreciate until they’re gone. Prior to my little altercation with the lawn mower, I can’t remember ever feeling gratitude for my toes. As with many things in life, I just took them for granted. I’m sure there are things in your life that you never really appreciated until it was taken away, even temporarily. Perhaps there was even a really close call that made you appreciate your health and safety.

So in the school of gratitude, basic level, your assignment is to make a list of things that you’re grateful for. The easiest way to approach this is to look around you (including in the mirror) and identify each item that benefits you in some way. Then think about how your life would be made more difficult or less enjoyable if you didn’t have that thing. Remember – it can always get worse. Do you have a broken leg? If not, be thankful for that. If so, be thankful that both legs aren’t broken. If they are, be thankful both arms and legs aren’t broken, and so on. Look at yourself in the mirror. Are you very attractive? If so, be thankful for that. If you don’t think so, I’ll bet you’ve seen someone else who is disfigured or for whatever reason is much less attractive than you. If there is anyone else less attractive than you, that means you have a measure of beauty, for which you can be grateful.

So make that list. You can go through your body parts. You can list all sorts of things in your environment that are luxuries or necessities that benefit you in some way. As you look at things around you, if you would be better off without something, skip over it for now. Otherwise, list it. I think you’ll find that the list will grow very rapidly. As the list grows, you will feel more joy in your life.

Once you’ve mastered that and can feel gratitude for all the things in you and around you, you have earned your bachelor’s degree in the school of gratitude. You’re now ready for the more advanced courses.

Have you ever had trials and difficulties? Of course you have. Have they benefited you in any way? Perhaps more than you think. I believe that we only grow through challenges and difficulties. Some of them are thrust upon us as trials and hardships. Some of them are self-inflicted, such as going back to school and taking hard courses or pushing ourselves to perform a more grueling workout routine. You can seldom cruise your way to meaningful success. You don’t generally accomplish great things sitting on your couch watching mindless TV shows. Work is required. Also, there are trials that you’ve gone through that have made you stronger or more empathetic or have helped you appreciate the good things in life more. I don’t recommend sticking your foot in your lawnmower. I can’t say that I’m glad I did that (I tripped actually), but I have learned from it. Be thankful for the lessons and growth that have come from hardships.

Another thing you can do is to look around again. Pay specific attention to the things you skipped over. Maybe they weren’t just things. Perhaps some of them were people and relationships. Especially in light of what I was just saying about trials, there may be some benefits that you missed as you were making your initial list. Often times, we can look closer and consider ways in which we’ve benefited. It doesn’t work in all cases, but sometimes we can find some blessings in the midst of horrible circumstances.

If you can do all of this, you’ve earned your master’s degree in the school of gratitude. Shall we talk about how to take it even further? There are a few ways in which we can feel gratitude at the highest level.

One way is to feel gratitude for benefits and blessings not yet received. This is called faith. A simple way is to think about your next paycheck. There’s no guarantee until you have it in your bank account. However, you’re reasonably confident that you will get it around the designated time. Therefore, why wait to feel gratitude for it? Feeling thankful for things and exercising faith helps to draw more good to us. So you might as well start feeling grateful now. There are blessings on their way to you right now, some of which you’re not even aware of. So be grateful for them now.

Another way to feel the most advanced form of gratitude, which is something that most people struggle with and why it’s part of the school of gratitude’s doctoral program, is to feel grateful for other people’s good fortune, even when it’s something that you desire and have not yet been able to attain. “Sour grapes” is more the common attitude in that situation. It’s easier to feel jealousy, resentment and disappointment, maybe even a loss of self-esteem. But you’re becoming an expert in gratitude. Therefore you can take on that challenge.

Lastly, especially if you recognize God’s hand in your life and you feel confidence that he has a plan for you, it becomes possible to feel grateful for everything in your life. This even applies to trials and hardships while you’re in the middle of them. It doesn’t mean that you have to be a martyr or to enjoy the pain that they cause. But it does mean that you understand that everything has a purpose and that all things will work together for your good.

I hope you don’t feel like I’m being overly optimistic. I still get down sometimes. I’m not trying to minimize difficulties that you’re going through. However, I maintain that whatever degree of gratitude you can feel and express is the degree to which you can feel joy in this life, even if it’s small. If you’re feeling very down, start with that basic list that I described earlier. Do it today.

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Living Joyfully without Complacency

April 7, 2015

complacencyThere’s a very fine, almost imperceptible line between being happy with what you have and being too complacent to strive for more, between being grateful for the blessings you’ve been given (without griping about what you don’t have) and being satisfied with where you are now with no goals for improving your situation. Yet the difference that it brings to your life from being in one state vs. the other is huge. It’s a matter of happiness and joy vs. misery and bitterness. It’s a matter of progression vs. stagnation, and attracting good into your life vs. not attracting good things into your life.

As I’ve studied principles of success and happiness, I’ve come to realize that gratitude is one of the biggest keys to happiness in life. It’s also an important factor in the law of attraction, in terms of attracting good things. It can be confusing at first. It seems almost contradictory to be told that if you want more of something, you should first be grateful for what you have. In order to progress, I’ve always thought that you first needed to be dissatisfied with your current circumstances. Dissatisfaction and gratitude don’t seem to go together. If you’re happy where you’re at, you might as well stay where you’re at. Right? If you’re miserable in your current situation, if you feel like you’ve gotten a raw deal, if life stinks, then you’re primed and ready for a change in a better direction. Right? The misery will motivate you to get off your tuckus and make a better life for yourself. Right? That’s pretty much what I’ve always been taught. However, that’s where I was getting messed up. I think it’s affecting a lot of other people also.

As I look back on my own life and witnessing the situations of others, I can’t recall ever seeing a situation where griping and complaining and feelings of bitterness actually led to an improvement in someone’s life. Generally, it assured that they would NOT progress. Why is that? Because they were not putting themselves into a state (frequency, vibration, attitude) in which they could attract and receive improved circumstances. Although they were wanting life to improve, sometimes desperately, their thoughts, words and emotions were in opposition to the improvement that they were wanting. (I know – I’ve been there.)

So, if you’re not griping and complaining about how life is, and you should be grateful for what you already have, isn’t that the same thing as complacency? Not necessarily. Perhaps you do have all that you desire, but the important thing here is the attitude. If you’re feeling complacent, is it due to the fact that you’ve achieved all you have ever wanted and now you just want to coast a bit, or is it because you’ve given up, because you don’t believe that your goals are reachable or you’re incapable of reaching them? Frankly, I believe that there are very few people who are both successful and complacent and are not on a downward slide. Complacency leads to laziness, which leads to failure.

How does one strike a proper balance between being happy and grateful for one’s current circumstances and healthy ambition? I try to look at the bigger picture. What I have encompasses what I’ve received in the past, what I am now receiving and what I will receive in the future (blessings with my name on them that are on their way, some of them years out). Every day, I express gratitude for all of these blessings. I am grateful for what I have achieved and what I will yet achieve. I strive to avoid dissatisfaction with my current situation. Rather, I appreciate the path that I’m on. There is great striving to accomplish more and greater things and to attract greater abundance in all aspects of my life. I know that I have to do my part to prepare for and receive the higher level of blessings that are intended for me.

Happiness cannot depend on some future outcome. Happiness is a choice. Choose it today and enjoy the journey!

Faith, Gratitude & Health

July 31, 2013

gratitudeI wrote previously about the power of hope in the healing process. Faith also has a great deal to do with it. There’s no question about how the degree of faith you have in both the treatment and the one administering the treatment has upon your likelihood of improving. When I was in chiropractic college, I did a research paper on the “placebo effect”. This is NOT about fooling people with sugar pills, but rather about how one’s belief and attitude toward their treatment plays into the success of the treatment. I believe that in most instances, no matter what kind of treatment one is receiving, from drugs to surgery to energy work, that placebo effect will have a bearing on the outcome.

Before medications can be marketed to the public, they must go through a number of studies in order to be approved by the FDA. Surgeries don’t usually get the same kind of research. I heard of one study where they examined a particular knee surgery. The patients were divided into three groups. The first group got the surgery they were evaluating. The second group did not get the surgery. However, their skin was opened up and then stitched back up without making any internal changes. The third group was the control group that got no treatment. Which group do you think reported the most improvement? It was actually the second group. They were the ones that didn’t get the actual surgery but thought they had.

In my own life, I’ve looked for ways to cultivate my faith — faith in God, faith in my self and my abilities, etc. Lately, I’ve found that one of the most effective means of increasing faith is to have a heartfelt expression of gratitude. When you feel gratitude down deep, it’s hard to simultaneously feel doubt or worry. It can often be more helpful to think about the things you’re grateful for than to focus on what you need or want. Remember that you are most likely to attract more of whatever you focus on. If you focus too much on your aches and pains, you will get more of the same. That doesn’t mean ignore them, but you focus more on resolving your health issues than on how miserable you feel. Find any good aspect of your health (you can usually find many if you try if you’re not in acute pain) and focus on that. Feel gratitude for it.

The next step is where faith really comes into play. Be grateful for the improved health you’re going to have. If a trusted friend said that they have sent you a gift, would you withhold your gratitude until you actually received it? That wouldn’t make sense, and it certainly wouldn’t show any faith in your friend. If you expect something good in your life, be grateful as if it were already your’s, including improved health. There are no guarantees, but your chances of getting what you want will be greatly enhanced.

Be grateful for both your current and future blessings. Having an attitude of gratitude will increase your joy, which is the purpose of your existence, and you’ll attract a lot more good into your life. For more information on how we help people achieve better health, please visit my website.