Gratitude isn’t just something that shows up randomly in our lives, something that “happens to” us. Gratitude can actually be a matter of choice. We can decide to experience more gratitude. More often and more in depth.
We can actually learn easy and proven-to-work ways to bring a greater sense of gratitude into our every day lives.
Cultivating gratitude in our lives can indeed be a life-changing experience. It can transform the way we see the world and the ultimate meaning of our lives.
Get something to type or write with and ask yourself this: “What do I feel grateful for?”.
Seriously ask yourself the question and note down all answers. No need to evaluate or prioritize the list as you go. Simply make note of everything that comes to mind when you ask yourself this question.
When the answers stop flowing (or if they weren’t really flowing in the first place) ask yourself again. Ask multiple times in order to get more and more answers.
To grow the list even further ask a further question: “What else could I feel grateful for?”.
Your list will instantly expand if you ask yourself these questions – and then repeat the questions.
If you’re in a low place or otherwise just not “feeling it” then ask yourself this:
“What could I feel grateful for?”. Even if you don’t feel grateful in the moment, putting the question this way will no doubt bring up some good responses. If not, keep asking until the answers come. They will.
Acknowledging what you could or might be able to feel gratitude for opens your mind to the possibility of feeling grateful. Opening the door in this way can lead to more of the actual experience.
Our conscious minds will sometimes fight us – like if a person is down on themselves, doesn’t feel deserving, feels alone in the world, etc.
But truth is, we all have something to feel grateful for – and most of us have so much more than we’re even consciously aware of.
An important tip: “Go wide” in creating your list. Some people automatically think of material possessions and if they don’t have a lot of these, or the particular ones they want, they feel deprived or otherwise sense a void. By “go wide” I mean to think much more broadly, including the many intangibles.
A wide assortment of examples is here to get the ball rolling:
· being part of a family
· having a special friend who has meant a lot
· having happy memories of a past loved one
· being in good health & physically able
· being a good friend to others
· having compassion for those in need
· living in a good home, neighborhood, community
· having a dog whose love is unconditional
· having health insurance
· having a savings account
· having a vehicle and being able to drive where you want
· having hot water
· being able to spend time alone & and enjoy it
· being able to meet and enjoy others
· having a good neighbor who looks out for you
· having a job that you love or like
· being able to walk or bicycle to work
· having a good doctor who you have confidence in
· having confidence in yourself
· having had a great mentor who influenced your life
· having happy, fun memories of high school
· enjoying learning and growing
· being good at a sport or hobby that you enjoy
· not being good at a sport or hobby but enjoying it anyway
· having self-respect
· having peace of mind
· having an education – formal or through an enlightening life
· having meaningful spiritual beliefs & practices
These are beginning examples … and the list can go on … and on.
What’s important is creating your list – whatever it is for you – and for the list to include things that you truly are or could feel grateful for.
Too often people focus on what they don’t want rather than what they do want and it’s important to avoid that here. In other words, to avoid letting our minds take over and tell us what we don’t have to be grateful for. If your mind goes in that direction, take charge and re-ask the questions above. As long as you keep asking them, the questions will guide (or force) your mind in a positive direction.
Want an even more powerful experience? Task yourself to ask the questions throughout the day. Even doing this for a single day can be invaluable. With things that have been happening in my life, I hadn’t done this in quite some time, and in doing so recently I soon ended up with a list of 40 things that I am indeed grateful for!
Once you have the list the next step is to review it on a regular basis. Each time you do it will reinforce feelings of gratitude … and perhaps bring still other things to mind that can be added to your list.
Whether with a printed or handwritten list, or a list on your electronic device, seeing it regularly (whether daily, a few times a week or weekly) helps condition in a new and enormously valuable habit: feeling grateful on a regular basis.
Gratitude builds foundation for happiness within – and both gratitude and happiness of one can bring good feelings to many others too.
Give yourself this gift as part of this Thanksgiving week … and pass the exercise on to others as a gift to them as well!
Article by Marcia Elder, © November 20, 2018
Marcia is a long-time consultant whose specialties include personal and professional development. She heads the consulting firm CPI Consulting and was a Trainer for Anthony (Tony) Robbins’ Seminars for 10 years. She learned the value and impacts of empowering questions from her experience with Tony.