“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”—William Arthur Ward
What if you began and ended each day with an expression of gratitude for the blessings in our life? Through prayer, journaling, or a phone call, how might that intentional ritual affect the quality of each day? What if each experience of gratitude was like a drop into the pool of your life, sending ripples in all directions? How far might those ripples spread? In contrast, what if gratitude was an infrequent blip on the radar or it was expressed only in times traditionally recognized as occasions to “give thanks”? How would that lack of gratitude impact your life? If I were to name one thing that has transformed my life, hands down it would be a deep experience of gratitude.
In one of the darkest moments in my life, I began a practice of gratitude. It served as a life line, pulling me toward the light. At that particular time, I could have endlessly thought about what was not working in my life. I could have moaned and declared to the Universe that I was justified to complain. But it occurred to me when I did, that I only felt worse, and I seemed to perpetuate the hardship and pain.
The shift into grateful living began simply, one intentional word, one feeling at a time. It was as if I planted seeds, and each day I watered the seeds with my words, intentions, and feelings. Now my life has grown into a bountiful garden, filled with color and amazing possibilities.
So, what is gratitude? A response of your heart. A feeling of thankfulness and appreciation. Think about your life in this moment. Perhaps you could fill endless pages with glowing words of appreciation; perhaps it is difficult to get past a blank page. Whether you are experiencing one of life’s brilliant pinnacles or slowly traversing a dark void, you get to choose. You may choose a feeling of lack or a feeling of abundance, choose a state of complaint or a state of gratitude.
Here is the edge that comes when you complain: no matter how much you complain, you never feel satisfied. As each word flows out of your mouth, it is as if you are greasing a slide that takes you farther down into discontent. I love the words of Wayne Dyer when he writes about being a love-finder rather than a fault-finder. Are you focusing on what is not working in your life or are you focusing on what is? The reality is that we all have some of both. What sets some folks apart, with a sparkle in their eye and a generous heart, is that they live their life as a love-finder. The ripples from their grateful heart can be felt by everyone around them.
The rewards of feeling a deep sense of gratitude are extraordinary. You will feel more joyful, more attractive, more vibrant, more satisfied, and more present to giving and receiving love. Now take a deep breath, settle yourself for a moment, and then complete the following sentence, which will help you begin, right this moment, your shift into more grateful living.
I feel so very grateful for …
It is that easy. Now let’s really dive in to play.
- Brainstorm ten outside-the-box ideas of ways you can express your gratitude to others. Watch the people in your life unfold into big smiles when you express just how very grateful you are. Be creative in that expression.
- Write a gratitude letter to yourself or to someone you know.
- Make a list of fifty things you are grateful for and keep it handy to look at when you find yourself sliding into a complaining mode.
- Create a Gratitude Journal. Set aside time everyday to think about, to feel, and to write down what you are grateful for.
- Be open to listening to the language of your heart.
What a gift to feel a big open heart, to bask in your blessings, to choose consciously, intentionally to live a life of gratitude. Let gratitude ripple within you and joyfully out into your world.
Excerpt from The Woman’s Field Guide to Exceptional Living: Practical Steps fro Living a Big, Bold, Beautiful Life! by Corrie Woods