How much would you pay for a tool that changes your day? You could live anywhere in the world and use this tool to turn a gloomy day into a bright cheery day; you could combat illness and make yourself healthier; and you could even change your brain, so you gracefully cope with any distressing event. Guess what? It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor; you already own this amazing tool. It’s the power of gratitude.
To illustrate how the power of gratitude works, try to put yourself in the following story and feel what Meg feels.
Monday morning Meg wakes up early to get to her new gym class on time. It’s not easy, but she’s happy, because she’s determined to honor her promise to protect her health. As she enters her garage, she sees the car has a flat tire. Not only that, she discovers that her son left the lights on and the door ajar, so the battery is dead.
Meg’s good mood disappears. She won’t make it to the gym. As she thinks about calling Triple A for assistance, she gets very angry with her son. He’s ruined her day. She’s not even going to make it to work on time. She slams her coffee mug on the counter and sprays coffee on her coat. Great! Can anything else go wrong? Yes. While she was preoccupied, her favorite cat, which just had surgery, slips outside.
My guess is she, and you, are feeling pretty stressed right now. It’s human nature to dwell on negatives and to what you don’t have. But when you take your focus off these things and zoom out, so you’re noticing your life from bird’s eye view, you’ll feel a shift occur.
In your imagination, zoom out so you see your house on your street – see the trees, the road, the stop sign, and the neighbors’ houses. Zoom out further and see your house nestled in your city block. Zoom out still further and see it within your city. Now return to the story. Let’s see how the power of gratitude can change your feelings toward “your son.”
As you look down on the garage, you notice the tree he helped plant in your pretty garden. Yes, your son made a mistake, but at least he’s not battling leukemia like the young man down the block, and he’s not on drugs like the boy across town. In fact, he’s a really good kid. And you start to feel grateful that he is such a good kid.
At the very moment you soften and feel gratitude, your breathing and heart rate slows. You notice tension in your shoulders, and you shrug it out. You start noticing how nice and warm your home is; how beautifully the sun glistens off the early morning frost; how lucky you are to have a family that loves you.
It’s not just a coincidence that gratitude creates such a profound shift. From this highly condensed story, we can identify how the power of gratitude works. (In real life, the process may not occur so quickly.)
Gratitude makes you present in the moment. Rather than becoming stuck on “the disasters” you aren’t afraid to take a step back and see the bird’s eye view of your life. Why? Because, on a deep level, you already know for a certainty that there’s an abundance of goodness in your life that you can rely on.
Gratitude makes you aware of your body sensations. You don’t notice how tense you become during the crisis, but feeling gratitude brings awareness and allows you to let it go.
Gratitude makes you see what you do have. The negative event is crowded out by the thought, “He’s a really good kid.” No matter what’s happening in your life, it’s not as bad as someone else. As you become aware of other less fortunate people, you’ll feel a deeper appreciation for what you do have.
Gratitude makes you content with what you have. Feeling grateful feels like you’re giving yourself a giant hug. You love your life and everything about it. No doubt, there may be things that you’ll change in the future, but for today, what you have is enough to fill you with satisfaction, joy and well-being.
Gratitude is contagious. Being grateful has the power to block out negativity. You can’t pay attention to what’s missing or what’s not going well, if you mindfully focus on what is. Since the Thanksgiving holiday is here, why not come over to my Facebook page and let’s spread the power of gratitude. Please share with me: What are you grateful for today?
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