While change is inevitable, with the recent pandemic it can feel constant and as if the world has been turned upside down. When faced with constant change and uncertainty, I’ll admit, gratitude can feel like a far reach, especially when you’re just trying to make it through the day. Yet, in my experience, it is this very practice--noticing what you're grateful for--that can be both a gamechanger and a way to nourish yourself during a difficult time.
Ten years ago, while finishing chemotherapy treatments and surgery, I was introduced to the “Practice of Gratitude” during a week-long seminar with Jack Canfield called Breakthrough to Success. How I got there is a great story I will share in another post :)
Leading up to this seminar, I didn’t feel like there was much to be grateful for. I was extremely sick and my whole world felt like it was falling apart, especially when it came to my relationships, career, finances, and what was left of my health. I had spent most of my time in the hospital and palliative care, as the symptoms and pain worsened and at one point I could recall declaring, “If this is my life, I don’t want to live anymore”.
Yet, during this seminar, I was mesmerized and curious as Jack Canfield shared how gratitude can change your thoughts and positively shift your state of being. He further explained that journaling a gratitude list has the power to change the world around you through the Law of Attraction (like attracts like), an outcome of shifting your focus. So of course I thought, “Heck yeah, I’m in.”
On that day, I wrote a list of five things I was grateful for and committed to doing this every day for the following 30 days. At that time I had no idea that the powerful outcomes of this process would lead me to continue this practice beyond that one month mark.
This was the start to “the journey out”. The journey out of desperation, painful childhood traumas, and self-sabotage into where I am now, a truly “InJoy” life.
As I journaled, I started to shift my focus away from the pain I felt from all the recent losses and began to give thanks. Thanks for the beautiful blue skies, the cool air in my home, new friends, old friends, the sounds of the rain on the roof, and my restoring health. I thanked the simple things like being able to turn lights on in my home, the food in my refrigerator, the dinner I was able to prepare, and the job I was about to receive.
And then it happened. Changes. I started noticing little changes at first. I didn’t feel as “heavy", like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. I felt lighter, happier. The feeling of joy was starting to return. I no longer felt like I was lacking anything and instead I felt supported and loved.
Despite the outward look of “lack and dismay”, I was able to move across the country to a place that better suited me even though my bank account showed $300--I actually traveled across the states three times that year. Everything was shifting. I serendipitously found a perfect beach condo, which in the end served as the ideal healing space. I also received numerous job offers that allowed me to choose both my career and my desire to build my coaching business. Additionally, more pockets of playtime appeared, which allowed me to further indulge in my passions.
Over time, my value system began to change as well and I started to see how blessed I was to be living such an enriched life. A life that was rich in health, friendships, awareness, knowledge, growth, and the materializing of “out of the blue” desires. Money also started showing up in such magical and unexpected ways, I would just laugh at the universe's sense of humor. And one of the biggest blessings I receive from my gratitude practice was the deep-seated belief that “the universe most definitely has my back no matter what”. Going forward I knew that I was blessed, which was a new belief that wasn’t dependent on anything else.
That said, with this current state of heightened uncertainty, I do believe there are things to be grateful for, and from my experience, it is from this practice that we can get grounded and attract more of what we appreciate.
So where to begin? That’s the exact question I asked myself all those years ago. But, before I go on, I’d like to emphasize that any step toward gratitude, no matter how small, can have a huge impact. It’s all about getting started and sticking with it. So pat yourself on the back for dipping your toes into a new practice and trust that results will come with consistent action of any size.
To help with this process, I’ve outlined some simple tips below that I found most useful on my Gratitude Journey. Please feel free to reach out with any questions in the comment section and have fun as you dive into this new practice.
This simple, yet sometimes tricky step, is one of the most important when it comes to seeing change. Yes, that’s right, you have to play full out! Commit to it and stick with it. It’s not uncommon to slip into a habit of complaining, blaming, and focusing on what it is you don’t have or want--this is a societal trend--, so naturally, gratitude may take a bit of effort at first. Any practice does. The good news is, it gets easier with time. Even if you don’t think the practice is working, remember it takes approximately 30 days to create a new habit. Also, just setting an intention for gratitude can shift your energy, allowing you to have the eyes to see and appreciate what’s around you. In addition, when we commit and continue to journal, Law of Attraction will kick into overdrive, attracting more of what you appreciate toward you.
2. Start NOW and write it down
What better time to start than now. Don’t wait for the “perfect time”. The perfect time is now. You don’t need a fancy book or computer application. Grab a pen or pencil and write it down. Find a space, sit down and allow yourself some quiet time to see what comes up as you ask yourself “What am I grateful for today?”. Just allow yourself to come up with a few answers--I like finding five things. Then write them on your paper and also write why you are grateful for these things. This simple act of writing it down, like goals, brings it into our full awareness. It also gives you a visual map, providing guidance through troubling times.
3. Lean into the feeling
Feeling is the fuel! This is where you want to bring a wholehearted feeling of thanks to whatever you write down. Close your eyes and imagine it and with the emotions that come up, feel them through your whole body. Embrace it. Do whatever it takes to bring the full emotion of gratitude forward because the universe speaks in vibrations. Emotions are vibrational frequencies and gratitude is one of the highest frequencies along with love. Feeling these emotions activate the Law of Attraction to bring more of the same to you.
4. Practice and practice often
One of the simplest ways to keep momentum and have it feel second nature is through practice. Think of all the things you do throughout the day. It can be as simple as blessing your morning cup of Joe. Not only the coffee but the cup it is in, the farmworkers who harvested it, the truckers who shipped it to the store, the store worker, and so on. The more we practice the more it becomes a part of our rituals.
Another great way (and one of my favorites) is appreciation in the present moment. I love appreciating the people around me and getting specific in doing so. I typically do this when I interact with bright and friendly waitstaff at a restaurant. In this case, not only do I leave a nice tip, but I’ll leave a note on the bill, thanking them for their kindness and bright smile and how much it made my day.
5. It’s a marathon, not a sprint
Remember you’re building a lifelong practice and a new habit. You wouldn’t quit halfway through a marathon right? Sometimes when we start seeing success we stop. I encourage you to keep going, keep writing the list because that's how things will continue to flow. It will keep you focused on the positive aspects of life even in uncertain times.
Also, pace yourself. Find a practice that is sustainable, so it can be on-going. Remember the turtle and the hare. Slow and steady wins the race. It’s the same concept.
And finally, if you find yourself off course, slow down and give yourself a break. We all get distracted. The key is to acknowledge it and appreciate yourself for the awareness and all the days you’ve been able to carry out this practice. Then start again. I am so grateful for....