Like painting, sculpture, music, dance, and every other form of art; GRATITUDE something that improves as we invest more time into its study and practice.
Growing up, my parents taught us the importance of showing appreciation for things we had and gifts that were given to us. We learned to break away from our newest toys in order to make eye contact with the sender and give a sincere ‘Thank You’. Later in life, we wrote notes and cards that were promptly sent.
While I strongly disliked it at the time; I thank them for instilling this habit in me at a young age as I understand how rare and powerful it is!
No need to worry if you didn’t have such an upbringing. Today is the next best time to start developing this habit.
Building Your Gratitude Muscles
I like to explain it to people that it is similar to working out any other muscle group – arms, legs, shoulders, etc. I don’t necessarily have more things for which to be thankful; I merely have a more developed gratitude muscle. Great things come from investing just a few minutes each day.
The easiest way is through a Gratitude Journal. Whether you purchase one specifically printed, or simply use a spiral notebook; invest a few minutes every day to write down 10 things for which you are grateful. This should take less than 5 minutes.
My first entry was “comfortable bed, food, solid house, loving dog, reliable transportation, close friends, loving family, clothes that fit and that I like to wear, plenty of social connections, ability to communicate effectively.”
The first week was difficult to remain consistent and I found several moments where my mind ‘couldn’t think of anything else’ only to have my dog nudge my hand or sit at the base of my feet – he was on the list quite often!
After the second week or so; I found it increasingly easier to recall my day and write specific things that I felt were more important to appreciate. One day it was a police officer who did not give me a speeding ticket; another was the gentleman who held the door open for me. It can be anything really!
As it got easier to express my appreciation, I also saw more reasons to show appreciation. I started out with a goal of just 10 items (people, things, situations, whatever), but quickly began to run that number up to 20, 30, 40, and more!
This habit was not only about being grateful for the good moments; but for the challenging ones as well. When a significant business deal lost all momentum; I was able to sincerely thank my contact for the opportunity to explore a new way of thinking as well as the confirmation that this was not the ideal type of client – two days later, the ideal type of client called me and a deal was signed within one week!
Gratitude Goes Deeper Than That
It goes beyond appreciating what we already have. This practice actually helps us attract more of the things we want!
By expressing our gratitude, we are activating the reticular cortex and priming it to work in our favor. The reticular cortex (aka reticular activating system) is a set of ‘filters’ that help limit the amount of sensory information our brains process. One way to see its impact is when we begin researching for something significant. The day after we decide to look for a new house, we begin to notice all the houses in our neighborhood with signs in the yard that ‘weren’t there’ the day before. After we get a new pair of red shoes, we notice how many other shades and styles of red shoes other people are wearing.
By making these powerful emotional connections through gratitude, we begin to align ourselves with a variety of ways to get them.
We don’t need to wait for it to arrive before we say thanks. There is amazing power that comes from appreciating those things still in our imagination.
THANK YOU for reading, liking, commenting and sharing this with others. I am excited to hear how this impacts you and love to hear the things that receive your gratitude!