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"When gratitude becomes your default setting, life changes" – Nancy Leigh Demoss
Now I know there is an overwhelming amount of information about gratitude out there these days – gratitude apps, books, blogs and journals are ironically abundant; I promise though that this article won’t just add to the existing clichés that abounds on this subject. Isn’t that something to be grateful for already?
Now I’m not knocking any of these platforms. Anything that helps people feel more appreciation and joy in their lives has to be a positive, but very rarely do these products scratch the surface of gratitude and explain just how or why this process works. Although it most certainly improves your wellbeing to simply write down three things that you are grateful for right now in your life, understanding the mechanics of this process though empowers you even further to enjoy the life you live.
We live in a more, more, more culture. Social media shoves other people’s ‘incredible’ lifestyles in our faces, and we are constantly overwhelmed by images and content that affirms our lack and seemingly everybody else’s abundance and joy. This relentless bombardment eventually wears our sense of self-worth down, and when at one point our lives had provided us with a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction, now we feel just emptiness in comparison. This is becoming a social dis-ease. As a culture we are suffering from an imagined sense of lack and dissatisfaction. Sadly we turn to destructive methods of appeasing this lack of self-worth and often it’s through the use and abuse of food, drugs, cigarettes and alcohol.
Gratitude breaks this pattern by focusing on things in the here and now that we appreciate and value. Even if at first it is a challenge to find just three things in our lives that we appreciate, the very discipline of doing this everyday pushes us to look at our lives and single out aspects that we do genuinely feel grateful for. Some of these things can be large like being grateful for your health, whereas other aspects might be as simple as being grateful for the feeling of the wind on your face. Ironically it is a steady build-up of appreciation for the small things in our lives that have been proven to be the most life affirming.
“Gratitude opens the door to the power, the wisdom, the creativity of the universe. You open the door through gratitude.” – Deepak Chopra
Once we build up a habit of gratitude, the practice inadvertently spreads in to all aspects of our life. So we start to spend our days looking for things to acknowledge our gratitude for and we begin to recognise that there are more and more things in our lives we either hadn’t noticed before or that we had taken for granted. This steadily creates a deeper meaning in our lives that ultimately releases us from the unhealthy chains of comparison that we had been suffering from previously. Suddenly other people’s lives don’t seem quite as bright and shiny as they looked before, simply because we have found greater depth and appreciation of the things we already have in our lives. We realise that the grass isn’t always greener, and actually we are quite happy with the little piece of this world and the Universe that we already inhabit.
Another powerful force comes in to play then, for want of a better phrase ‘the law of attraction’. Now this concept has been wrung dry by the mass market over recent years and abused to help people achieve very material goals. The downside of this ‘law of attraction’ trend was that while it most definitely worked for people, receiving material gain was great for a while but it didn’t provide lasting fulfilment – which ultimately left many people feeling lower than they did before they encountered and adopted this ‘get rich quick’ mentality.
The law of attraction is a very real force, whether you believe it or not, and much like the force of gravity is – you are using them ALL the time even when you aren’t aware that you are. The basic physics behind the law of attraction is that you get back what you give out and you create more of what you focus on. Now this works whether you are conscious of what you are giving out and focusing on or totally unconscious of it. When we focus on problems, lack, desires and how helpless we are then the universe will deliver more of the same in great abundance. However, If we focus on finding solutions and developing a sense of appreciation for the lessons any problem is showing us then we will receive a very different set of results and experiences.
So when we focus on gratitude and appreciation every day we invoke other forces that work faultlessly to bring us more and more of the same, and this builds and compounds gradually until it becomes a way of life and a way of experiencing the world. Nothing works faster and more reliably than an attitude of gratitude to cure fear, worry, anger, hatred, envy and jealousy.
It’s like the greatest riddle ever. What’s simple to do, costs nothing, takes very little extra time to practice, and it can make you appreciate yourself and your life? Gratitude!
“The single greatest thing you can do to change your life today would be to start being grateful for what you have right now.” – Oprah Winfrey