The Power of Gratitude

I finished a book called ‘E-Squared’ at the start of January. It’s similar to ‘The Secret’ and is based around the law of attraction. An example of the law of attraction is that if a person opened an envelope expecting to see a bill, then the law of attraction would “confirm” those thoughts and contain a bill when opened. A person who decided to instead expect a cheque might, under the same law, find a cheque instead of a bill.

The thing that annoys my about these types of books is they focus on bringing material wealth into your life and encourage people to focus on the wrong things.

I don’t think repeating affirmations like “I am rich!” over and over again will make you rich. They have misled a lot of people with that message. They always seem to leave out the point that years of consistent hard work in whatever field you aim to succeed in is also required.

Money is important for our happiness but a Princeton study found that after a point of being comfortable the relationship between money and happiness stops. The point is $75,000 in the USA which equates to the amount a regular person needs to not have any real money worries. The study found there to be no increase in happiness above that point.

Now back to E -Squared. The author gives 8 exercises to do, each one lasting 48 hours. On completing the tasks I had an epiphany about this entire subject.

The first 48 hour task is to look for a “sign”.  Something that proves that there is a greater power out there. This could be anything from getting a new job to a compliment from a stranger. As long as it’s something positive.

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Another one of the exercises was to focus on seeing beige cars for 48 hours. So for two days I needed to remind myself to look out for more beige cars during my day (I did notice that I saw more beige cars after I made an effort to look out for them). All of the exercises train you for one thing.

Looking for positive things in day-to-day life.

Each day you can choose to look at things through a negative perspective or a positive one. The choice is yours.

“If you change the way you look at things the things you look at change”.

– Wayne Dyer.

If I tell you right now (no matter how negative a guy you are) to look out for something good in the next 24 hours. Chances are you will find something.

This trail of thoughts works the same way as gratitude. You become more aware and then appreciate more of the things that usually go unnoticed in your life.

A healthy diet, a  consistent exercise routine and proper sleep all improve you life, but gratitude is a simple and powerful practice that a lot of you might not be practicing.

Now why am I writing this to you all?

Most of us tend to always have something to bitch and moan about. Something we feel hard done by and this feeling of getting a tough break with certain events in life.

But did we really get a tough break or are we choosing to be unhappy?

Lets try a little self experiment.

Become aware of your own thoughts and inner dialogue during the next 24 hours.

Are you the person on Monday morning who moans that the weekend was too short and your job is sucking any last bit of life out of you?

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Just for one day I’m asking you to switch each negative whiny comment with a positive spin (This will feel very fake and weird at first but please trust me and try it.)

What the worst that can happen? Maybe you’ll feel a bit better and Monday won’t be such a struggle.

It’s our internal dialogue that causes most of our problems in life. Not the people around us. A simple change on the outside can have a ripple effect throughout your life.

Now lets see what 5 minutes of gratitude a day can do for you?

5 Benefits of Gratitude

1. Gratitude makes people happier

This study found that people who practiced gratitude daily saw an improvement in happiness and become more positive.

2. Gratitude reduces stress

Another study found gratitude to directly foster social support, and to protect people from stress and depression.

3. Gratitude makes you less materialistic

The simple act of counting your blessings fills that gap that materialism tries to fill. Materialistic wants stem form feelings of inadequacy. Materialistic pleasures are short lived for the most part.

Why? Because we adapt.

That new car you’ve always dreamed will feel great for the first few weeks or even months. But it will start to become normal after a while. Another longing or want will pop up and on the hamster will spin as you chase new things only to experience the initial pleasure fading again. Insecure

4. Gratitude leads to sustained happiness

Moving on from the above point, materialism is not sustainable. This study found that gratitude leads to longterm happiness.

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5. Gratitude improves sleep  

If your mind is full of anxiety and worry all day chances are getting it to calm down at night will be a challenge. Gratitude allows you to appreciate all you have thus reducing the worry and disappointment associated with not having x,y or z.

6. Gratitude increases productivity

If you’re a happier and less stressed focus and concentration are going to improve. Add more confidence and less anxiety and your ability to get stuff done will skyrocket.

How to practice gratitude

The most common way is through a gratitude journal. Every morning note three to five things you are grateful for in your life.

You can use triggers throughout the day to remind you if you don’t use a journal. The two that work best for me are

1. First thing in the morning

2. Before meals.

Just taking a few moments to say thanks before you eat goes a long way.

Make sure and be specific when counting your blessings. So if you are thankful for the meal, visualise the smell and tastes that make you thankful. If it is your other half, what are the things that make you thankful about them?

Another way is through meditation. Spend 5 minutes in silence and count your blessings.

What I love about gratitude is it’s simplicity. Like a lot of things I touch on in this blog it is free to all and works. The key is practice. There are so many things in your life to be grateful for.

The question is whether or not you realise them?

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