‘From the first thought of the day to the last you are creating your life, your destiny…’
Gratitude…the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness
If there is truth in this statement: ‘From the first thought of the day to the last you are creating your life, your destiny…’ waking up grateful every day suddenly makes a lot of sense and is likely to attract the best things in life.
You wake up, slowly stretch and open your eyes to the new day. Instead of the first thought being ‘I don’t want to get up’ or ‘I wish I didn’t have to go to work today’ or even ‘Yuk, I’ve got that meeting to get to’ and instead it sounded more like this ‘I am thankful for this new day, for the new opportunities that await me, for the challenges that will help me grow’… How might your day change? How might you approach the day differently?
You see those first few moments of the new day can be a game changer; they can hinder your enjoyment of life or create powerful possibilities in it. And the fact is you get to choose just by choosing the focus of your thoughts.
It’s been said that people who regularly practice gratitude through reflection on the things in and around their lives are likely to experience more positive emotions, feel more energetic, rest better and express kindness more frequently. Gratitude is also linked to developing a stronger immune system; these are a host of good reasons to make gratitude your default feeling!
Is there any science to gratitude? Well, there has certainly been a lot of research of late and it has helped take the ‘all too fluffy’ feel out of the topic (although quite frankly, I like fluffy).
And The Research Says:
Multiple studies show that we can deliberately grow our levels of gratitude, increasing our well-being and happiness in the process:
- Dr Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, a psychologist and leading researcher on gratitude (also author of Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier) carried out research that showed doing something as simple as keeping a gratitude journal increased well-being and life satisfaction.
- Behaviour Research and Therapy published a study in 2006 showing Vietnam War Veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
- A 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being showed how keeping a gratitude journal improves sleep.
- A 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences grateful people were shown to take better care of their health. They exercised more often and had regular check-ups with their doctors, possibly impacting life longevity.
- A 2014 study showed the role gratitude played in increasing athletes self-esteem (Journal of Applied Sports Psychology)
Applying Gratitude Every day
When I set out on my personal development journey 12 years ago gratitude was one of the first things I heard a lot about and over the years I have learnt to apply it in a variety of ways. How?
The Gratitude List – every morning, I begin with a thank you to God & Universe and pose one question; what am I thankful for as I start the new day? I grab my pen and notepad (kept on the bedside table) and jot down at least 3 things I am already grateful for. At the end of the day, I add any other things that came up for me throughout the day and take a few minutes to reflect on the list before getting a good night’s sleep.
The Journal – I use a business journal however it incorporates positive thinking, inspirational quotes and plenty of gratitude reminders (Daily Greatness Business Planner). It reminds me throughout the day to remain grateful, even for the challenges I face! It is my best buy for 2016 so far J
Vision Board – strategically placed in my hallway, just outside my bedroom I have my vision board and on it all the things I am bringing into reality one day at a time. It’s a pit stop for reflection on the way to the bathroom, reinforcing why I am willing to work hard, stay focused and enjoy the ride; thankful for all that has already materialised and that yet to come.
Time to Notice Things – As a fitness fan I like to get out. I walk to the gym via my local cycle path. To be honest it is not the most scenic route (industrial estates are noticeable) yet I still find things to be grateful for; the sound of the water lapping in the stream, flowers blooming bright with colour, trees leaves replenishing themselves, rabbits scurrying across the path into the woodlands, people walking their dogs or cycling. It is a time of opening up the senses and enjoying my environment.
People – There’s nothing quite like expressing gratitude to others. It is associated with increased energy and optimism. There isn’t a day that goes by when I am unable to find at least one person to give thanks to/for. My family, friends, my business partner, my clients, the local traders – the list is endless!
Giving/Sharing – There is pure pleasure to be gained from making someone else’s day. Giving or sharing are simple acts of kindness that can impact you for hours, days and weeks after the event. I recently purchased an armband holder for my mobile phone, perfect for my runs and gym sessions. A young lady in one of my local stores noticed it and said how much she needed one. I ordered one the next day for her and took it in. She was gobsmacked and so thankful. It was a little thing but as she stated ‘you’ve made my day’ it made me realise just how simple it is to make a difference. No mountain moving action required!
A Moment of Silence – Taking a few minutes out of my day to just be still, to be in silence allows me to feel thankful. It’s little bit like turning down the volume of the world around me and just ‘being’. In that moment I feel blessed.
Gratitude Letter/note – This is a really powerful tool to give and receive. I recently received a gratitude email from a really close friend who was taking part in a transformational development programme. It was both touching and kind; I literally felt my heart swell. She had so eloquently highlighted a number of reasons why she valued our friendship and it made me feel thankful for having such amazing people in my life.
That is a pretty extensive list of ways to apply gratitude and I have to say it has definitely given me all the benefits; increased energy, a sense of abundance in my life, appreciation of others, being able to enjoy simple pleasures and the realisation that expressing gratitude expands self.
Simply put, do not waste another day holding grudges, arguing, having to be right. Instead focus your energies on being grateful for all that is right in your world, no matter how short or long the list. The more energy you put into those thoughts the more abundance you will experience…
Get to It and Thank You!