“God gave you 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say ‘thank you’?”
–William A. Ward
What do you think when you hear the word “gratitude”? One of America’s most famous gratitude stories comes from Oprah Winfrey. Remember Oprah’s gratitude journal? Each day for ten years, she faithfully wrote down five things she was grateful for, things that made her laugh, things that tasted wonderful, things that were beautiful, things that made her heart sing. And what happened? Her life became so big, so full, so exciting, so wonderful that she barely had a moment to keep up her journal!
That’s the way of gratitude. The more it’s expressed, the more there is to be grateful for. Gratitude is like manna for the soul. It nourishes you in both obvious and untold ways as it reverberates through your energy field and out into the world. Like no other tool so easily within your reach, it can transform and transmute anything that ails you. In my work as a spiritual teacher and energy healer, I’ve seen that when you come to understand this emotion’s immense power, you’ll want to make it the cornerstone of your life.
Being in a state of sincere appreciation is the single most important tool for creating everything you want. Of course, you’re thankful for things you already have, but you can also have a practice of gratitude that works like an affirmation but taking it to an even higher level. Not only can you envision what you want in positive and present words—as though it already exists—but you can be grateful for it as though it has already been received. The difference is that you’re connecting to the emotion that you would feel having your desired result, which creates an even more powerful pull on the unseen ability to manifest on this plane.
To truly transform your attitude to one of gratitude, you’ll need to practice it on a regular basis until it gets to be a habit—until it becomes the place where your thoughts naturally go as you move through your day, including when you face adversity. Try these five ways to build your gratitude practice and make the warm feeling of appreciation a healing part of your daily life:
- Grow your gratitude list. Start building your awareness of all you have to be grateful for. Take just a few minutes each night to make a list of blessings, large and small, and, if possible, say your list out loud. For example, “I am so grateful for my good health, another successful day at work, and the fun encounter I had with the guy on the elevator. I’m grateful that my favorite TV show is on tonight, that I learned a valuable lesson in my difficult interaction with my boss,” and so on.
- Ask yourself key questions. Get into the habit of asking yourself every night: “What have I received today? What have I given to others today?” This simple review gives you the opportunity to examine the good in your life and to recognize whether you are sharing your gifts.
- Use the power of the positive. Practicing daily positive affirmations helps you wake up to the true nature of your being. Repeating the words, “I am loved just the way I am” and “I am uniquely cool: creative, thoughtful, impactful” helps you realize and accept the truth about yourself. You are a child of the Divine, and gratitude is the natural response to this miracle of life.
- Share your gratitude with others. As you keep a list of things you are grateful for, gently encourage friends and family to do the same and share them with one another. A student told me about two friends she meets for lunch every month. Each of them had a habit of opening the conversation with horrific tales of the problems they were having. She suggested a new practice: “First, tell me one good thing that happened to you since last time we met.”
- Send a thank-you note each week. How often do you think, “I should thank them,” and then let the idea go? Imagine the joy you could give someone by following through on that impulse. Send a quick email to do this until it becomes a habit; a spiritual practice that generates good vibes for both sender and recipient.
Keeping a gratitude journal is a powerful practice that I highly recommend. In addition to counting your blessings, you can use it to capture more details of your inner life, ponder the events of your outer life, and find ways to deal with the challenges that may be blessings in disguise. The gratitude journal certainly worked for Oprah. In fact, she calls keeping her journal the single most important thing she’s ever done. Now how about you, got gratitude?