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I love Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday. Family, food, friends and football thrown in for good measure. But I digress.
What I REALLY like about Thanksgiving is it’s about giving thanks. And I think gratitude is one of the most powerful emotions out there. Why is it so powerful? Because it has the capacity to change your life.
My business and life are going great right now, better than I had planned, but it hasn’t always been that way. There were plenty of times where things were looking pretty bleak. During one particularly bleak time, a friend told me to just start listing everything I had in my life to be grateful for. Now, when things are looking pretty bad, it can be easy to say “everything sucks, I have nothing to be grateful for.” But, if we’re honest, we know that isn’t true. There’s always something, no matter how small, that is in your life you can be grateful for, and sometimes you just need to take a step back to see it.
What’s so amazing about gratitude is it’s so simple yet it has so much power – in fact, it’s so powerful it can start turning things around for you. Now, granted, being grateful all by itself will probably not turn a sinking business into a profitable one. But, it CAN be the catalyst to a transformation.
Why does this work? Well, if you’re a fan of the Secret and law of attraction, you’ve heard the phrase “what you focus on expands.” So if you focus on all the things you’re grateful for instead of all the things that aren’t working, the universe will bring you more things to be grateful for and less of the things that aren’t working.
Now, while I do think this is true, I also know a lot of people do not believe this or don’t think it’s true for them. So, might I suggest another, more practical reason, for why gratitude works — because it makes you feel better.
Yes, if you start to think about all the wonderful things that are in your life and that you have to be grateful for, things don’t look quite so bleak. You’re able to break, even for just a few moments, the funk you might have sunk into. And, with that improved mindset, you most likely can see your situation a bit more clearer and start coming up with some solutions (and maybe even take some actions) to get yourself out of it.
But gratitude isn’t just about when things are going wrong, it’s also powerful when things are going right. When you’re on top of the world, it’s still an amazing practice to give thanks. If nothing else, it gives you a moment to fully appreciate how wonderful things are right now. (And isn’t that a nice feeling to enjoy?)
So, how do you start adding a practice of gratitude to your life? Here are 3 tips to get you started:
1. Feelings are important. It’s not enough to just think about being grateful, you have to feel grateful as well. When you think about all the things you’re grateful for, really feel that gratitude throughout your body. Focus on it, and feel it radiate everywhere, from your fingers to your toes. Another tip is to imagine you have a dial in front of you, and when you turn up that dial you’re amplifying that emotion. It only takes a few moments to do, but the results are amazing. Try it and see if you don’t feel so much better afterwards.
2. Write it down. My coach, Melanie Benson Strick, Success Connections, has a great daily journal which includes a space to write 5 things you’re grateful for each day. Writing is a physical activity, so again you’re anchoring that gratitude feeling in your body. If you’re really struggling right now, I would suggest taking a few minutes and writing down everything you’re grateful for each day.
3. Put out a reminder. My grandfather gave me a stuffed bear. But not just any stuffed bear, this bear has a little button on it and a story. The story is a bit longer than what I want to get into now, but the gist of it is this — the bear comes from a magical land and represents an emotion. When you push the button and give it a hug, the emotion is released. My particular bear is about love. I’ve put the bear out so I can see it every day, and when I see it, it reminds me to be grateful. (And yes, sometimes I push the button and give it a hug as well.)
I agree, it’s a little silly. But it works. And if there’s something you can put out that reminds you to be grateful, then it’s an easy way to make being grateful a daily part of your routine.
It only takes a few minutes, but the results can be amazing. I challenge all of you to try it for 30 days and see if your business and your life start to improve.