“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. it turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.” –melody beattie
It is easy to find things to be grateful for when life is wonderful. The key is finding things to be grateful for during challenge so we feel good more of the time.
Things go awry every single day – but because the Universe is a perfect balance of joy and challenge, just as many things are always going right. The trick is knowing where to look for these blessings – and having the courage to open our eyes.
It is also important to note that Gratitude is a path and a practice. And, finding good things in challenge can sometimes takes years. It’s about finding what’s good in less time, whatever that is for you. In this way, you can move through experiences more efficiently, neutralize negative emotions more quickly and feel more positive, balanced and joyful much more of the time.
The Seven Areas of Life:
World-renowned human behaviorist Dr. John Demartini created a wonderful framework in which to define our lives. It’s called “The Seven Areas of Life” – they are also a brilliant way to look at any situation and answer this question: “What’s good about that?” The Seven Areas are:
- Physical: Your body
- Spiritual: Your soul connection
- Mental: How you think
- Familial: Family
- Wealth: Abundance
- Social: Outer world
- Vocational: Work
Each night before bed, find at least one thing to be grateful for in each area of life, and write it down. Notice how each wonderful thing leads to another in all the Areas of Life. The blessings are endless!
Example 1: Physical: I am grateful for my health….leads to:
My children have a healthy mom; my family is healthy (familial). My good health allows me to move forward more easily in my life. (Emotional, mental, spiritual, social, vocational). I look wonderful because I am healthy. (physical, social). I continually take steps to stay as healthy as I can (emotional, spiritual, physical). My good health helps me be the best I can be with my work (vocational, social, wealth). I feel wonderful because I am healthy (emotional, mental, spiritual, physical, wealth).
Example 2: I am emotionally struggling today/this week/this month/this year…..leads to:
I am in touch with and honor my feelings (emotional, spiritual). I am taking steps to make myself happier (spiritual, emotional, mental, wealth). I have a wonderful support system (familial, social, mental). My friends and family are showing up for me in ways I never dreamed possible (emotional, social, spiritual). These struggles are helping me grow (spiritual, emotional, mental, vocational). I am learning new ways to help myself through challenge (emotional, spiritual, mental, social, physical). With every challenging moment, I become stronger and more courageous in some way (emotional, spiritual, mental). I am building an amazing creativity “toolbox” and network to help deal with my feelings that will serve me the rest of my life (all areas). I feel better about myself with each step I take (all areas).
The list goes on!
Begin your day by reading what you’ve written the night before. You may want to read to yourself, say the words out loud, or even add to the list as you become more inspired.
Re-train your brain to be more grateful:
According to Dr. Rick Hanson (author, “Buddha’s Brain), the latest work in neuroscience proves that by “savoring” any positive experience for twenty seconds or more, we create a new neural pathway in our brain that is forged in positive emotion and thought. Over time, as we build more and more of these new neural pathways, our brains begin to “default” to more positive ways of thinking and responding. Translation: you’ll be happier!
Pause and Effect:
As you count your blessings, close your eyes. Deeply feel and experience whatever it is you are grateful for. Spend at least ten seconds really savoring each blessing, each moment of gratitude, allowing it to really sink in to your consciousness. Call up an image of any of them in detail – a face, a loving hug, being in your creative, connected self. Notice how your body feels when you are in this place of gratitude – are you calmer, relaxed, and peaceful? Acknowledge this as another blessing.
As you go about your day, pay close attention to all positive moments – a hug from your child, the smell of nature, a call from a friend, the love of a pet. Notice how these experiences really “feel,” taking ten seconds to let them fully sink into your body, heart and soul. This tiny exercise works miracles.