Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues, but the parent of all of the others. – Cicero
Oprah said, “The single greatest thing you can do to change your life today would be to start being grateful for what you have right now.” Wha? I knew I wasn’t “getting it,” the scope of the power of gratitude. Being grateful felt really obvious to me, and yet elusive. Because when I was feeling grateful and saying thank you, it didn’t seem all that powerful. And yet I could sense that for many people I admired, gratitude seemed Big with a capital B. It seemed life shifting, joy inducing, abundance attracting, Big.
I began a “quest” to figure it out- and my typical non-type-A fashion -I tried the path requiring the least effort- I took the one I already practiced and I expand it. As I laid my head on my pillow after a loud deep sigh, I would say “I am so grateful for my comfy bed!” and silently list the other blessings I experienced throughout my day. This felt good, but it wasn’t inducing those Big feelings and shifts I was seeking.
For me the Big changes happened only after I began to write- and that, too, was a process. I abandoned list making after a few weeks for the same wet noodle results I had during my bedtime routine. Although I noticed more of the good stuff in my day, something still felt hollow.
And then… a shift.
Instead of making a list (broad) I began focusing on one person, circumstance, or event and wrote lots of detail (deep). I found that as I was able to name on a granular level what it was that I gratefully noticed, my appreciation began to blossom AS I WROTE. Capturing the awareness of all that is good in my world spun into a form of energy - accompanied by sensations in my body (tingles at the back of my neck) and feelings of joy and gratefulness that was as deep as a well that provides life giving spring water. I found the BIG!
When I practice gratitude it creates a new dimension filled with joy. It’s as if I am creating a warm bath of energy in my own existence that I bask in. It is a mind-trip because, as I appreciate and cherish the gifts I have in my life, I am creating more joy! As my gratitude increases joy, noticing joy and being thankful creates more basking in gratitude, gratitude is the awareness of gifts and joy...and so on.
So here I am, shouting from the blog mountain that this- gratitude- is the epicenter to abundance in all other areas of life!
How does one practice gratitude?
There is no doubt, this is a personal journey. You have to find the practice that speaks to you. You’ll know it when you feel the Big shifts, and it could come with listing, or drawing, or writing. I have found the practice that works for me and many of my clients is putting pen to paper. If you feel inspired, write down what it is that you are grateful for, what you are appreciating and noticing. It does not require much time- try it for 5-10 minutes at the end of day or at lunch time. Not feeling inspired? Just pick anything topic! Indoor plumbing, the sun, the green light during your commute! Just begin writing, even if it feels awkward. Begin each sentence with “I am grateful for,” or “I appreciate,” or “I feel gratitude because.” Sometimes this is tough, especially when it was a rough day. Start with something neutral or small- my dog’s wagging tail, my warm blankets. It’s a muscle we are building, so give it some time to develop.
Notice that which is already good in your life because what you pay attention to grows! Make gratitude a state of being, and watch your joy multiply.