The power of living a life filled with gratitude cannot be overstated.
It is a feeling, and, as such, it is a vibration that expands to allow more of the good things in life to flow to us. Those who consciously embrace an "attitude of gratitude" enjoy a high level of contentment, health, and happiness. Focusing on and growing gratitude has even proven to extend life.
Why? Because attitude plays out in every aspect of our lives, personal (relationships etc.), health and business.
Empowered to reduce and eventually eliminate feelings of envy and stress, gratitude is a state of mind, our steadfast weapon against negative emotions, and our greatest tool towards creating healthy, happy memories and warm, loving feelings.
One study on gratitude asked participants to write down goals they wanted to achieve over a two-month span of time. When the study ended, participants who kept a gratitude journal during that time were closer to achieving their goals.
Although one study is not scientific proof, there is a moral to the story, and it is this: gratitude does not promote laziness! Rather, it is a positive energy that helps to propel us forward towards achieving our goals, filling our hearts with contentment and enjoying life to the fullest.
When things progress in life as we believe they should, feeling gratitude is easy. However, when we are suddenly faced with painful challenges, a different story often emerges. If we have not cultivated gratitude, it is hard to hold steadfast to this vibration and gratitude begins to take a second seat to victim vibrations, those dictated by fear.
When we lose perspective about what is real, precious and true in our lives, gratitude is the attitude that is empowered to put us back on track. It is a powerful compass that helps us rise above things that would otherwise keep us down by keeping our life and circumstances in perspective.
We must accept the fact that there are two ways to approach life and that every situation and circumstance comes with two sides of the coin. What is hot without cold to gauge it against? Life is indifferent. It takes no sides but follows and creates according to the direction of our attitude. In other words, gratitude is not conditional, ever. It is a conscious choice we make in the moment.
Our choice is our voice. Every circumstance and experience that comes into our lives is empowered to either lift us or exhaust us through the attitude we assign to it. In other words, we are either blessing ourselves or adding to our burden through the mental attitude choices we embrace and express.
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Another study conducted on the power of gratitude asked participants to simply focus on three good things that occurred during their normal day. The results were amazing. Not only did those who participated enjoy a significant increase in happiness during the study, but they continued to enjoy this heightened feeling for as long as six months post-study!
It seems that focusing on what's great about life encourages the mind towards living in the moment. It is the most empowering form of mindfulness and helps us eliminate the tendency to focus on unpredictable future scenarios (that may or may not happen) or dead, long-ago events of the past that deplete our energy reserves (you can't change them, so why waste time focusing on them?)
An attitude of gratitude can help us:
Avoid symptoms of stress and stay healthier mentally and physically.
Enjoy closer friendships and family ties (everyone responds to gratitude because it is a form of love).
Experience heightened levels of joy and happiness.
Boost our energy reserves, helping us to be more physically active so we can give our bodies the proper exercise they need and crave.
Enjoy deeper states of sleep and wake feeling rested and ready to tackle the day.
Build a healthier future by operating in the moment and staying out of the past.
Achieve our goals and enjoy the successes in life we are after.
One of the best ways to cultivate this empowering attitude is to keep a gratitude journal. Write in your journal every day before retiring. This gives you a chance to reflect and look deeper at what enhances your life and gives you joy. What inspired you and made you happy today?
And, don't forget, it's not always the things that feel good that offer happiness. In fact, most often, it is the challenges in life, once conquered, that offer the greatest happiness and growth… just on the other side of the door.
The idea is to be thankful for all things, for all things work together for the good of all! Let go of resistance and realise that everything in your life is a gift that has hidden within it the power for inner growth and expansion.
It is the proverbial "silver lining" that comes with all things.
You can also write in your journal first thing in the morning, setting a powerful mood for the day. When expressing gratitude, there is no room for annoyances and disappointments to overwhelm your mental attitude and destroy your sense of peace.
Gratitude is most powerful when lived in the moment, on a moment-to-moment basis as life unfolds, not as something expressed in a desperate time of need (such as disease striking).
When the attitude of gratitude is consistently expressed, it is the key to avoiding disease and creating a life of physical and mental health, happiness and prosperity.
According to the famous Sufi poet Rumi: "Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder. If you only say one prayer a day, make it 'Thank you'."
• Carolyn Hansen is co-owner of Anytime Fitness.