Gratitude can change your life. It’s like magic. And even though I truly believe this, it still catches me off-guard when I experience how amazing it is.
Willie Nelson said, “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.”
Wow. Can it really do all that?
Gratitude. It’s a simple thing: being thankful for what you have.
Plug in to your gratitude funnel
So what’s so special about gratitude and if it’s so great why isn’t everyone doing it? It’s free, doesn’t require any special training or certifications.
The truth is it takes practice to be in a constant state of gratitude, especially if you’re the type of person who tends to notice what’s wrong before noticing what’s right.
Sometimes we’re just not all that thrilled about the way things are, sometimes we just want to complain about about any number of things we let get under our skin: mundane tasks, people who don’t do/say/think what we think they should, unexpected setbacks, an uncertain future. Some of these things are big, life-changing events, some are small, regular, petty things.
Yes, it takes practice to have a mindset of gratitude. For some of us (ahem), lots of practice.
Take this example: I was doing laundry the other day and I really didn’t feel like doing laundry. I was just about to say out loud, “Oh my gosh, I hate doing laundry,” when I remembered my goal to practice gratitude, especially when I want to complain about something.
So I said, “I’m grateful that I can do laundry, that I have clothes to wash, that I’m physically able to do it, that I have machines that do most of the work.”
All of a sudden, I felt pretty good about doing laundry.
I realized that gratitude doesn’t actually change anything (I was still doing laundry) except percecption (having the ability to do my laundry is a good thing), thereby changing the experience (instead of feeling cranky about it, I was genuinely happy that I had the good fortune to be doing my laundry).
Where’s the magic?
The magic is real and it’s all internal, not external. Gratitude transforms the way we experience our circumstances.
I recently read Jen Sencero’s book, “You Are a Badass” (which is awesome, by the way) and she said that when something happens that sets you back, try being grateful for that thing instead of being frustrated and angry.
I thought it was a crazy idea, but I thought I’d try it when I got the chance.
And my chance came soon enough. It was a silly, petty thing (aren’t those the things that can be most upsetting at times?) I was trying to leave the house for an appointment and was running late. I remembered I’d filled a glass of water to drink before I headed out the door and when I reached for it I knocked over the glass, spilling water all over the counter and on myself. Great! I thought, If I take the time to change I’ll be even later than I already am!
But then I remembered Jen Sencero’s advise. Okay. Stop and think about this. No, this is good. I’m glad this happened, I thought to myself.
I had to laugh because by me saying I was glad about it meant that I had to come up with a reason this was a good thing. It forced me to think about what was happening and allowed me to stop before spouting off a few choice words and, instead, I decided to take a deep breath, slow down, and relax.
There is no need to rush. Everything will be okay. It’s water. My shirt will dry. I’m grateful to have clean water to drink every day.
Practice, practice, practice
Practicing an attitude of gratitude takes concious and continuous focus, but I’m discovering that it’s well worth the effort.
Try it and see if you agree that gratitude is like magic.