Sunday, July 26, 2015

How to Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude

When I was a child I loved reading the Pollyanna books, (Pollyanna is a best-selling 1913 novel by American author Eleanor H. Porter that is now considered a classic of children's literature) I wanted so much to feel the joy of a positive attitude and to be able to see the good in everyone and every situation. I knew, even as an 8 year old, that good attracts more good and vice versa. However, no matter how I tried I could never sustain the glad game and eventually I grew out of Pollyanna but I never forgot about my desire to develop an optimistic outlook.

Today I know that we all have our own energy, electricity or vibration. We can feel others' energies and we talk of feeling good vibes or bad vibes from people. That energy comes from our positive or negative feelings or our love. We can feel each other's love or energy and we are attracted to those who have positive energy. Their hearts are open and we can feel their light impact on us. 

I know that we can influence our positive energy, our love and light. I know that happiness is a choice that we make every minute of every day. When I was a child I didn't know how to maintain a happy attitude. I didn't know that I could govern my thoughts and feelings and harness them into a higher vibration or energy, but I do now! So how do we do this?

The answer is gratitude. When we are grateful we open our hearts and feel love for our lives. When we are grateful the light drives darkness out of our lives. The Greek philosopher Epictetus said, "He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has." Having gratitude is like any other strength of character that we desire to develop, we need to cultivate the habit. It is said that it takes 28 days to form a habit.

Here are some steps to take and develop your new gratitude habit:
1. Each morning write 10 things in a journal that you are grateful for. Make sure you include the reason why you are grateful. 

2. After you're finished making your list, go back and read each one either out loud or in your head and say 3 x, thank you, thank you, thank you and feel as much gratitude for that blessing as you can.

3. Find a gratitude rock that can fit in the palm of your hand. Place it near your bed; beside the alarm clock so you can see it. Every night when you go to bed, hold it in your hand and think of all the wonderful things to be grateful for from that day and decide on the one best thing. As you consider your favourite memory say to yourself 3x again thank you, thank you, thank you. (The process of sifting through your thoughts of all the things to be grateful for and deciding on the best will be uplifting in itself). 

As you practise doing this you will find starting and ending the day feeling gratitude will make all the difference to your day.

4. As you go throughout the day look for opportunities to say thank you, to yourself and others, for the things you notice that you are grateful for. As you rewire your thinking and develop this habit you will find that you will begin to become more grateful for the little things surrounding your life. The more you notice them and acknowledge them, the more you will find and attract them.

If you would like to participate in a 28 days of gratitude program read Rhonda Byrne's book The Magic.

If you start thinking of things that you are grateful for but draw a blank or you don't have the deep feeling of gratitude, I think these extra steps can be a big help.

  • Don't just go through the motions: Journaling can be very effective if you first make the conscious decision to become happier and more grateful.
  • Go for depth over breadth: Elaborating in detail about a particular thing for which you're grateful carries more benefits than a superficial list of many things.
  • Get personal: Focusing on people to whom you are grateful has more of an impact than focusing on things for which you are grateful.
  • Try subtraction, not just addition: One effective way of stimulating gratitude is to reflect on what your life would be like without certain blessings, rather than just tallying up all those good things.
  • Savor surprises: Try to record events that were unexpected or surprising, as these tend to elicit stronger levels of gratitude.
So try incorporating one of these at a time in your gratitude exercise to switch things up and get a different experience and perspective

I know that when we have an attitude of gratitude that our lives will become more rich and abundant with the good things in life and when we have a lack of gratitude then, just like a self fulfilling prophecy, we attract more lack into our lives. What we seek (and focus on) we will find. If we focus on our lack of love, health, time and money, then that is what we will receive in our lives; more lack of these things. If we can find things to be grateful for in these areas, and sometimes it might be a challenge, then we will receive more abundance of those things.

In Matthew 25:29 it reads, For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
What is it that we should have to receive this abundance? It has been suggested that gratitude would be the most likely virtue required. It has also been said that gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all others. To this end I know, that if we practise having gratitude then we will enjoy an abundance of those things we love. I know this because I have tested it and found it to be true. I invite you to test it as well, start with keeping a gratitude journal today and you will be amazed how quickly life turns around for you.

I am grateful for this knowledge that as we practice the virtue of gratitude that we can have an increase of joy and happiness in our lives. We have a choice each and every minute and through practising an attitude of gratitude our hearts can grow and expand and as a result feel an abundance of love and joy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your thoughts. I have been feeling very unhappy in my life and because of this began a gratitude journal at the beginning of the year. Looks like i've been putting my efforts into quantity rather then really thinking and coming up with quality... I'm going to try harder to feel a genuine gratitude, record it and express it. Just what I needed to read today x