“Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.” Margaret Cousins
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change.”
― Wayne W. Dyer
If you visit the self-help or personal growth department of your local bookstore you will find a common theme. The idea is that you can change your life by following a simple plan, few steps or reciting positive affirmations. You are promised you don’t have to keep living the life you currently have. These concepts have always been overwhelming to me. If things don’t go my way or if don’t manage to find a new job, marry my dream man and live in my dream home I wonder if maybe I didn’t follow the steps right or recite enough or the right affirmations. For years I would simply try another plan, read another book (because maybe the next guy would have figured it out and I could read his book and my dreams would come true.) Then I read some research that shows a correlation between reading self help books and low self esteem. Somewhere in this whole mess I realized I had gone to far. I was hit with the realization that maybe I didn’t need my whole life to change to be happy.
Whew I’m exhausted simply thinking about all the expectations I put on myself for so long. This blog was born out of a bit of inspiration I had at a particular dark point of time in my life. I found myself feeling trapped in yet another questionable relationship, I had just moved to a new city and had no friends, no job and no money. I was walking back to my house one morning after stopping at my local coffee shop for a cup of coffee. I was feeling miserable. Wondering why I couldn’t create the life of my dreams like all those books said. I had done everything they said for the past ten years why wasn’t it paying off? I’m not sure what happened next, all I know is gratitude pushed its way into my life in a big way. I was suddenly filled with a deep sense of gratitude for the warm cup of coffee in my hand. Thankful I had enough money to buy this delicious brew. I took a deep breath and realized how clear the air was, another wave of gratitude washed over me as felt my strong, healthy legs as they took me down the street, the sun warmed my face. In just a few moments the spirit of gratitude simply took over and completely changed my perception and experience in the moment. My life hadn’t changed at all, only the way I looked at it. So my blog takes a slightly different approach. I say forget about changing your life and creating miracles. Maybe all we have to do is focus on being thankful and our change in perception will bring about whatever change you are looking for. To echo the words of Wayne Dyer “change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change.”
Here are three practical steps to put gratitude into practice in your daily life.
1. Start Using Gratitude Lists
Gratitude lists are something I use in my everyday life. At all times I have a list taped to the mirror in my bathroom but it could be on your refrigerator, your cubicle at work or above your kitchen sink. It is simply a list of stuff I’m thankful for. It’s usually the first things that come to mind whenever I make the list. You can make the list as long as you want and change it as often as you want. Use recycled paper, the back of old receipts, programs, act. Make your list stand out by using colored markers or pencils. You can make a list today, the first things that come to your mind are fine to jot down and hang it up. Keep it up for the next week or so and if it inspires you and helps keep gratitude in the forefront of your life then keep on making them and hanging them. Watch gratitude start to infiltrate your life.
2. Hang up a Gratitude Dry Erase Board in a Prominent Place
My friend Andrea has a dry easer board hanging in her bathroom. A place for her and her husband to write down things that they are thankful for. I loved the idea the moment I heard it. The practice of gratitude requires just that, gratitude. Placing ourselves in an attitude of thanksgiving and being open to look for things we are grateful for doesn’t come naturally. We are hardwired to look for danger and what may go wrong. Hundreds of years ago our human ancestors had to be a constant lookout for danger in order to survive. In modern society we don’t need this same vigilance but it is still hardwired into us. The good news is that neuroscience teaches us that we have the ability to re-wire our brains and to change the way we look at things. The ability to develop lenses of gratitude can be a journey that requires disciple and gradual shift in thinking. The best way to be able to turn to gratitude first as lenses is to come up with fun, easy and in your face reminders to look for the gifts, to spot things to be thankful for. Andrea’s white board idea is a great idea and there are many others like it that can help bring gratitude to the forefront. Note cards lefts around the house with your favorite quotes or reminders of reasons to be thankful. Books written on the subject of gratitude. A gratitude journal is a great start! Feel free to come up with your own ways to incorporate gratitude into your life.
3. Diffuse Uplifting Essential Oils
One of the main reasons I personally starting incorporating essentials oils into all areas of my life was the positive effect the oils had on my mood. I first I couldn’t figure out what was going on. Were the oils really helping my moods? I started doing the research and found out that yes; essential oils can positively impact and support your moods. If you are starting an active gratitude practice try diffusing uplifting oils in your home throughout the day to inspire and support you in practicing gratitude. Uplifting oils include: bergamot, ylang ylang, grapefruit, ginger, cypress and frankincense. Start with one or two drops in the diffuser before you write your gratitude list or when your having trouble reaching for a grateful thought and observe the way the oils support you in your endeavor.
Get INTO the life you are living now. Explore the adventure you are living NOW. What if nothing had to change?
What if you didn’t need a new partner, a new job, a new city? What if you didn’t need to travel to more places or lose more weight? What if all the excitement you were looking for was wrapped up and hidden in the present moment?
What if miracles and magic were waiting for you and all you had to do was simply look for them. I believe that gratitude, the simple act of being thankful is the key to a whole new world that exists within your current situation. The start of this process is to begin to pay attention to all the little details. The way breeze feels as it hits your face. The warmth of the sun, the sound of children playing or birds singing, the pleasure of tasting food or the simple bliss of hugging a friend or loved one. Let gratitude lead the way.