“Gratitude for the present moment and the fullness of life now is the true prosperity.”– Eckhart Tolle
Gratitude as a practice is about refocusing your mind, energy, and spirit on the positive surrounding us. Dr. Robert Emmons — the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude — has found that people who have regular gratitude practices are healthier, happier, and have better relationships.
Gratitude makes physiological changes in the body. When we express gratitude, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin — two hormones that make us feel lighter and happier inside. Simply saying “I am grateful” and listing “stuff” you think you should be grateful for like the washing machine, will not trigger your dopamine and serotonin hormones. Gratitude is what makes us feel good, brings us joy, makes us smile.
If we listen to the news, we would be convinced that everyone was violent, evil, lazy, and greedy. Our spirits would be oppressed with the political machinations of governments, the hopelessness of global warming, the plight of the homeless and hungry, and the continuation of the pandemic.
Frankly, it’s enough to make anyone depressed.
However, if we truly consider the beauty, kindness, and love encircling us in this moment, we discover the richness we possess. We find abundance enfolds us. Abundance is not only money. It includes love, friendship, community, home, and health. The first step is to be aware of people, places, and things to be grateful for in daily life. What in the present brings joy, laughter, happiness, and prosperity in your life? What makes your life full?
A counselor once challenged me to find five positive things to be grateful for before I got out of bed in the morning. My first thought was, “How long do I need to stay in bed?” I actually found this wasn’t hard to do. I noticed the sun shining, the birds singing, the comfort of my bed, the good night’s sleep, and feeling good.
Wow, there was my five.
Practicing gratitude changed my life. I concentrated on happiness and positivity. I smiled and said hello to neighbors and strangers as I went to work. I was grateful to have a job, a home, a cat, money for food, and the small things.
I concentrated on the important people in my life. I have a lovely neighbor who watches my cat when I’m gone. She goes out of her way to make sure she keeps Gigi company as well as giving her food and water. I began looking for ways to show appreciation to others for how they supported me and made life easier.
We often take family members for granted. I am so grateful to have a brother and sisters who encourage me and my work. My brother and sisters take time to like my Facebook posts even though they have busy lives. I am grateful for their attention because it helps my ratings. I try to remember to thank them and express my appreciation for them.
Appreciation is a practice developed as a skill, like dancing. Your focus begins to switch to the positive with action and attention. I recommend beginning and ending each day with a gratitude prayer or list.
Upon waking and before getting out of bed, consider three to five people, places, activities, or objects you are grateful for in the upcoming day.
Then decide to take action to create happiness.
- Who do you love today? Call, speak in person, text, video message, send a card, or connect with at least one.
- What are you grateful for today? (Mondays are 2 for 1 coffee day, you have a new client coming, you are wearing a new clothing item, the weather changed, or the beautiful fall colors.)
- What positive action can you take to make someone happy? (Take in a neighbor’s paper or garbage can, pay for lunch for the person behind you in line, send your mother a card just because…)
- Are you grateful for your health, the ability to exercise, having a gym nearby, a walking partner?
- What are you grateful for today you didn’t have last year, last decade, or have plans for in the future? What is a great memory you recall of an event?
Before going to sleep without further talking, music, or news, write down in a journal:
- Five positive ideas, objects, emotions, people, things you noticed.
- Recall the day, and five positive things that happened that made you happy, made you smile, brought joy to your life, gladdened your heart, when you felt loved or appreciated, accomplished something positive, etc.
- Feel the gratitude for these five things as you fall asleep.
- Send positive thoughts or energy to your loved ones as you fall asleep.
As we embrace gratitude, we attract more positive people and outcomes. Energy flows where attention goes. We look for the best, expect the best, and find it. Our bodies respond with a flood of constructive hormones ensuring healthy minds and bodies. As our attention turns to gratitude, we find more to be grateful for. Abundance in all its forms manifests through gratitude.