How are you feeling about life? In your relationships, health, and work?
Do you feel appreciative, happy and grateful for what life has handed you or are you wishing you could find a genie to give you a better lot in life?
What if I told you that there are many benefits to becoming the genie you're wishing for and choosing to feel grateful?
So often you get out of bed, feeling awesome. Then you receive a nasty email or have a fight with your spouse, and your whole day is ruined.
Like most people, you're allowing life to dictate what emotion you feel in any given moment.
Sometimes you're the windshield
Sometimes you're the bug
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you're a fool in love
Sometimes you're the Louisville slugger baby
Sometimes you're the ball
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you're going to lose it all
Do you feel currently like the bug or the windshield wiper?
The key is choosing to be the windshield wiper by consciously choosing your emotion. And gratitude is the easiest, most powerful solution to feeling in control.
The more you can feel like the windshield wiper, the better for you on so many (perhaps surprising) levels:
1. You'll Feel HappierThis one may seem like a no-brainer and yet it's surprising how the vast majority of people are stuck in the rut of feeling negative about their lives. Are you one?
The fact is, you're happier when you're focused on how well things are going for you compared to how badly they might be.
According to Dr. Hans Selye, the father of stress research, your attitude, and mindset dictate on whether your experiences affect you positively or negatively.
Feeling grateful powerfully focuses your mind on the positive and how things are working out for you. You'll feel:
- Your sense of overwhelm dissipate
- Calmer inside, and people will start to notice on the outside
- Happier and better about yourself
- Your anxiety and depression melt away
"Most of us never stop to consider our blessings; rather, we spend the day only thinking about our problems. But since you have to be alive to have problems, be grateful for the opportunity to have them."
2. Your Physical Health Will ImproveDr. Selye described the syndrome of just looking and feeling sick as your body's response to the burden of stress, no matter what that stress might be.
My article, "Why Stress About Meditation?" gives an in-depth explanation of how stress affects your health. For instance, chronic stress can cause:
- Continuous exhaustion, waking up tired as if you hadn't even slept
- Trouble falling asleep or waking up throughout the night
- Brain fog
- Inability to focus or concentrate on what needs to be done
- Dropping the balls at work
- Trouble finding words
- Remembering even simple things that used to be second nature
- Feeling like you might be losing your marbles
- Snapping at your family or colleagues
- Road rage
- Chronic pain
- Frequent colds
- Chronic conditions like high blood sugar, high blood pressure, or obesity
- Feeling like you've aged 10 years in the past year
And yet, Dr. Selye has noted that your mindset can turn all of that around so that you continue to thrive. How so?
"Adapting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one."
-- Hans Selye
When you're feeling optimistic and in control of life, your stress hormones decrease.
This in turn:
- Increases your physical energy and productivity
- Allows you to lose weight since your body isn't in survival mode
- Improves your sleep
- Improves your breathing efficiency
- Turns back your biological clock on aging
- Reduces your dependency on addictions
- Decreases your pain
- Speeds up your healing
- Decreases your blood pressure and improves your heart function
- Ramps up your immune system to fight inflammation, allergies, autoimmune conditions and cancer
"We participate and are responsible for a lot of the things that happen to us. If you hate your job, you are much more likely to get sick and die at a younger age than someone who's happy at work and has a nice family life and is mentally well adjusted."
3. Your Relationships ImproveGratitude improves your rapport and connection with others, thereby enhancing your communication in your relationships. At Growth-U, we call this "the New Golden Rule", treating others as they want to be treated.
Dr. John Schindler, a surgeon in the 1950's, recognized 6 essential emotional needs for overall wellbeing. These were security, variety, love or connection, recognition or significance, self-esteem, and growth.
Recognition is the need to feel special and can be one of the most challenging emotional needs to fill in a healthy manner. Showing your gratitude is a simple and powerful way of giving someone recognition and making them feel special.
4. Love Is All You Need... for Yourself and OthersThe fastest way to love is through appreciation. When you are focused on love and gratitude, there is no room for fear, anger, scarcity or need for control in relationships.
Life just becomes easier and flows more smoothly when you are focused on the positive.
5. Energy Vampires Turn into Energy Up-liftersDr. Christiane Northrup has described
Energy Vampires and how they may show up in your relationships.
Respectfully disagreeing with Dr. Northrup, I believe that it is your very own internal energy vampire that is sucking the most life out of you. You truly are your own worst enemy.
When was the last time you looked at yourself in the mirror and paid yourself a compliment rather than found fault with your appearance?
When was the last time you thanked your body for allowing you to experience life to the fullest and for putting up with all of the wear and tear you've inflicted on it?
When was the last time you thanked your inner child for being so resilient and surviving the vulnerable, often traumatic years of childhood?
You're expending so much energy being negative toward yourself and others.
The Four Laws of Focus state that what you focus on you find and grows until it becomes your perceived reality and then your identity.
It only follows then that, if you are even unconsciously focused on self-criticism, low self-esteem, and self-love that you are going to attract in energy vampires who are going to reinforce your low self-love and value.
Negativity sucks so much energy.
When you're feeling grateful toward yourself, your self-esteem and self-love skyrockets. You lovingly set boundaries and your must-haves in relationships so that energy vampires fall away.
Because you are now an energy up-lifter, you attract in other energy up-lifters. Your physical energy skyrockets and you have much more energy for your own self-care and for giving to others in your relationships and at work.
It can either be a draining cycle of energy depletion or a beautiful cycle of energy expansion. It's your choice.
6. What you Appreciate, AppreciatesAgain, the Four Laws of Focus show that what you focus on you find. It keeps growing until it colors your perceptions and finally becomes your identity.
You can either focus on gratitude for everything going right for you and what you envision will go right for you. Or you can focus on everything going wrong for you.
Don't believe that the Laws of Focus are really a thing? From a practical standpoint, bills and financial expenses have become the new saber-toothed tigers of our age, ramping up our stress to new heights.
When you focus on your bills and the lack of money in your bank account, it can leave you paralyzed with fear. Going back to the physical effects of stress in #2, you can no longer think straight let alone think of creative ways to overcome the challenge.
Instead, you hide your head in the sand, not opening your bills and allowing them to pile up higher and higher. Then you start getting the collections calls and more until your whole existence is blanketed by the fear you feel around your finances.
The good news is that you can only focus on one thing at a time: gratitude or fear. When you switch your focus to one of gratitude in any area of your life, you automatically take your focus away from your bills and the fear surrounding them.
By the same token, focusing and feeling grateful for everything wonderful in your life breeds even more abundance. According to the Four Laws of Focus, what you appreciate, truly appreciates.
Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life. --Rumi
7. Get in State to CreateAt Growth-U, we understand that creativity doesn't just happen. You need to Get in State to Create consciously. Creativity can only truly flourish when you're operating in love, positivity, and gratitude for all things and people.
Gratitude has the added bonuses of:
- Increased creativity
- Improved focus and concentration
- Better decision-making
- Improved memory
Not sure how to stop the momentum of negativity and ramp up gratitude?
Stay tuned for Part Two where we show you HOW to be grateful, even when life is throwing you curveballs.