Cultivating gratitude — the single fastest way to change your life (column by Katherine Cobb
November is everyone’s national cue to be thankful. Although I’d bet many trot out a list of things they appreciate before the big turkey dinner, gratitude is really something to practice every day.
I’m a big believer in the Law of Attraction where “thoughts become things,” and I’ve discovered cultivating gratitude can yield big results.
I have read about this law over and over in books, online and in blogs. I’ve seen it manifest in my life. This goes for the positive and the negative, because that sucker works both ways. Our thoughts are like little transmitters, attracting whatever we’re thinking.
I used to be a complainer, and it only made me complain more. I finally got sick of hearing myself and worried I would alienate people if I didn’t change, so I made a decision to be more positive and practice it. I even tacked the word “positivity” on a corkboard in my office, alongside some other images I want to see come to fruition (such as a lake house, the title of my next novel and a million dollar bill.). This visualization of beliefs and inspirations helps remind me to keep my intentions and thoughts focused on what I want.
Practice makes perfect or at least breeds habit. I’d much rather breed positivity than negativity. And it’s worked. I am now a positive person, part of the glass-is-half-full group. On the occasions I find myself complaining, I usually remember to stop, reframe it and move on. There is often a silver lining if we mine for it. Amazing.
After reading so many favorable connections with “having an attitude of gratitude,” I began actively cultivating it, too. I used to write out a daily list, but I found that got to be a bit rote after awhile. I didn’t feel it in my heart, probably because I was copying and pasting it into the day’s e-journal.
Now I say what I am grateful for out loud to the universe most days. Sometimes I’m around other people who would likely think I’m whacked if I started talking to an empty room or my car so I skip it. Plus, these thoughts are personal, between me and the universe.
Saying it loud and proud has been potent. I’ve experienced more happiness, peace and clarity as a result. I don’t fear anything, knowing all is being taken care of. I’m living a darn good life, and more great things are just around the corner.
Rhonda Byrne, author of the hit book, “The Secret,” writes, “Gratitude is a powerful process for shifting your energy and bringing more of what you want into your life. Be grateful for what you already have and you will attract more good things” and she believes (as do I), “Gratitude is the single fastest way to change your life.”
The Templeton Foundation has stats on the benefits of practicing gratitude. They claim grateful people have fewer stress related illnesses, lower blood pressure, higher incomes, better relationships, are more physically fit, give more time and money to charity, and experience a stronger bond with community. Grateful kids will get better grades, get in fewer fights and are less likely to start smoking. They write overall positive emotions prolong one’s life by up to seven years.
Not a grateful person? It’s never too late to start. The universe is waiting to answer your call.
Some people write out a daily list. When I used to get really cranky, I’d do an A to Z list, where I had to find something for each letter to be grateful about.
Others get a big jar and write what they’re grateful for on a slip of paper and place it in the jar. When they dump it out at the end of the year, they can literally count their blessings.
Maybe some, like me, shout it out every day to the big ol’ universe, whose ears are always open.
I also take time in person or through a note to tell someone why I am thankful for them. I feel good. They feel good. It’s a festival of joy. And guess what joy attracts? You guessed it! More joy.
Cultivating gratitude forces me to really think though my last 24 hours to take stock, and feel excited about the good things both large and small. I am often grateful for the same or similar people, talents or situations, but if thoughts become things, that’s muy bueno.
In this season of thanks, consider cultivating gratitude as a year-round action instead of just on Thanksgiving. Every day, we are given 84,600 seconds. I’m pretty sure we can afford to use a handful to feel grateful.
This column appeared in The Journal on Sunday, November 8, 2015.
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