“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” - G.K. Chesterton
There was a time when all I did was work. I worked to live and lived to work. My long-distance boyfriend had just dumped me, and I found myself living vicariously through the “The Bachelorette.” There I sat, watching another 20-something-year-old kiss her way through the show to find the man of her dreams. Along with the rest of the world, I watched her go on one choreographed date after another until she gave the final rose. And here I was, eating Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food ice cream straight out of the tub, feeling sorry for myself and wishing I could just start life over.
A year later, I did. It started with getting a single-subject notebook and pen and expressing gratitude for the life I had. And ended with expressing gratitude for the life I would build on the other side of the country - with a new man, a new family, and a new ocean view.
When you’re feeling trapped behind a wall of negative emotions, it can be hard to imagine that peace, positivity, love, or happiness is waiting for you on the other side. But gratitude is the bridge that leads you there. Be willing to pay the toll by expressing gratitude for your life now and start a new journey tomorrow.
You might have heard the phrase, "adopt an attitude of gratitude." But what does that mean? If you don't know how to get past a wall of pain or suffering or how to be loving, kind, or compassionate right now, expressing gratitude is a great place to start.
There is always a reason to be grateful. You just might need some time to think about it to see it clearly. Start by reviewing everything in each day this week from morning until night. Despite the bad things going on in your life, look for anything and everything that might have made you smile even for a minute. Look for the things that made you feel safe or made your life better or easier in any way.
Start with the basic areas of your life, such as health, food, home, school, job, and the people you encountered. When did you feel needed, supported, encouraged, loved, or comforted? When were you noticed, recognized, complimented, or thanked? A reason for gratitude is hiding in every nook and crevice of your life. You just have to shed some light upon it.
By expressing gratitude for all the good things in your life right now, you invite opportunities for more good things to come your way. In other words, by showing gratitude, you make room to invite more of the same.
Expressing gratitude pushes positive vibes into the world, which helps to create peace and harmony within yourself, with others, and with your environment, or nature. Positive energy has a boomerang effect. When you push positive energy out, positive energy comes back. By showing gratitude for the things you have, the people who make your life better, and everything else that matters to you, you create a portal of positivity that attracts more of the same.
By expressing gratitude, you also help reset your mindset with positivity. This creates an open space in your mind to accept life as it is as well as makes room for more of what you want. It also creates space for what you want to experience next. Think about what makes you happy now and what would make you happy in the future. What do you desire? What do you want to have, do, or become in your life? What would that look like to you? Describe it in detail. Be as specific as possible. Hold this vision in your mind. Then, express it on paper and frame it in the form of a gratitude.
When writing your gratitudes, first focus on the things you already have. Then, focus on the things you do not yet have. To write your gratitudes, start with the phrase, “I am so happy and grateful for.” Then, finish it with something or someone in your life right now that deserves your gratitude. The more you can describe it, or be specific in the details, the more powerful your gratitude.
For example, if you’re grateful for your family: “I am so happy and grateful for the love and support of my family.” An even better gratitude would be to name the members of your family and to give examples of why you’re so grateful for them. For example, “I am so happy and grateful that my father has recovered from his illness.” Or, “I am so happy and grateful my brother, Jack, loaned me money for my car payment.”
Express gratitude for your home. “I am so happy and grateful to live in a safe neighborhood. I am so happy and grateful to have a beautiful home where all the kids have their own rooms and we have a back yard for playing and hosting barbecues.”
Repeat this process for everyone and everything you have in the present until you feel better. Then, create a new list of things you do not yet have, but wish to manifest or attract into your life. To do this, continue to write your gratitudes in the present tense, but act as if your desires are already happening. This new list of “future” gratitudes not only creates positivity but also creates hope.
For example, "I am so happy and grateful to easily afford to live in San Diego. I am so happy and grateful to live 20 minutes from the beach. I am so happy and grateful to love and be loved by my husband."
As a suggestion, you could use half a sheet of paper for “present” gratitudes and the other half for “future” gratitudes. You can also use one whole side for present gratitudes and the other side for future gratitudes.
This exercise not only helps cultivate a positive mindset but also opens the mind to more creative and problem-solving processes. In other words, being positive helps you think outside the box. Your “can’t’s” turn into “can’s” and your “why’s” turn into “why not’s.”
When you think outside the box, you also start moving outside the box. That is, you cultivate the courage to step outside your comfort zone and take healthy risks. This is where the magic of bringing and inviting all that you want happens. Your positive attitude consciously and subconsciously cultivates actions that invite more people, places, and things into your life to make you happy and help fulfill your desires.
I recommend daily gratitude journaling for my clients as an easy self-care practice for cultivating positivity and happiness. Writing about things that make you happy and would make you happy is an exercise in and of itself that can make you happy. As a result, my clients look forward to this exercise because it always puts them in a better mood. And, that is the best reason to express gratitude!
Your actions mirror your attitudes. Your results reflect your actions. To be happy, you have to be willing to take actions that create happiness. When you start with an attitude of gratitude, your attitude toward life will improve.
Be grateful for everything that makes you happy now, and soon you will have more of it to make you happy.