Life Balance- The Power of Gratitude

The Power of Gratitude by Robyn Wright/ Personal & Relationship Life Coach

I went grocery shopping at a Target Super Center the morning of November 1st.  There’s nothing really spectacular about that except for the transformation I witnessed on that day.

I was rounding the corner out of the dairy aisle when the 30-50% off Halloween candy caught my eye.  I slowly pushed the cart closer wondering how tempted I might actually feel when I got really close- like close enough to touch a bag of Almond Joys.  And then I saw it.

Directly opposite the marked-down Halloween remnants was the new display already beginning to fill every bit of shelf space: Christmas. I paused. Christmas?  What about Thanksgiving?

Yes- What about it?  Thanks-Giving.

In the United States, Thanksgiving traditionally has its disputed roots in the Pilgrim celebration of 1621 at Plymouth Plantation, Massachusetts. This first Thanksgiving was modeled after common European harvest festivals of the time, with the purpose of giving thanks to God for a bountiful harvest. Aside from commercialism and football, this holiday has since moved away from its religious roots and has now primarily become a holiday to express gratitude and appreciation to God, family, and friends for the blessings of life.

So how does all this relate to Life Balance? Remarkably….in all ways.

If you are a parent, you may hear yourself saying, “Say ‘thank you’.” to your child at various times.  Maybe you remember your own mother or father reminding you to say that oh-so-familiar phrase when someone helped you tie your shoes, after receiving a birthday gift, or when leaving a friend’s slumber party.  It seems that saying “thank you,” is inherently the right thing to do.  And it is.

An emerging body of research is now showing that genuine expressions of gratitude can be a restorative, health-promoting experience, not just for the recipient, but for those of us who are saying “thank you” as well. Indeed, being grateful…and expressing it…can change the way we view our closest relationships and personal life experiences.  It appears that science is proving something that many already know through intuition: the “attitude of gratitude” is a healthy choice that facilitates happiness and optimism.

Psychologists Robert Emmons of U.C. Davis and Michael McCullough of the University of Miami have found that practicing gratitude can actually improve our emotional and physical well-being. Their ongoing Research Project on Gratitude and Thankfulness has found that people who keep weekly gratitude journals had fewer physical symptoms, exercised more, had a better outlook on life and were more likely to reach their goals. People with neuromuscular disease who practiced daily gratitude “had more high-energy positive moods,” felt more connected to others, and felt more positive about life in comparison to a control group.

Consider the following:

1) Gratitude attracts more of what you want. In coaching, I often say, “What you focus on expands.”  True for gratitude.  When you bring awareness to that which you appreciate and are thankful for, you focus more clearly on what you do want. The more you do this, the more you begin to receive and see those things in your life. Who or what are you grateful for?

2) Gratitude strengthens relationships. Make a mental note of the people in your world who are most appreciative of you…and let you know it. How do you feel about them? Does their expression of appreciation to you positively impact your relationship with them? Invitation: Show gratitude for people (their intrinsic value), their contributions, their gifts, and their actions. This will fortify meaningful connection between you and your partner, children, family, friends, and clients. Who have you said “thank you” to today?

3) Gratitude shines light on the positive. It is hard to stay stuck in negativity when you are directing energy toward awareness (and action) of things for which you are grateful. One of the easiest uplifts you can give yourself is to “count your blessings.” What is one, two, or a hundred ways in which you’re blessed right now?

4) Gratitude helps us move through challenges. When faced with difficulty, it is human nature to first see “something is wrong.” This creates a “fix it” mentality that usually lends itself to a negative or resistant attitude.  If viewed through the lens of gratitude, we open our hearts and minds to the question, “what is right here?”  Rather than fighting against a challenge, we are led into a co-creative space where something new can be experienced. Where can gratitude shine the light of new creation in your life?

So what about Thanksgiving?  Thank you Target.  You helped me remember.

Robyn Wright/ Personal & Relationship Life Coach/ www.something-more.com

© Copyright   7 November 2010

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