“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” ~ Albert Schweitzer
A few years ago I was traveling with a colleague, Amira. We had a series of misfortunes, as happens sometimes in travel. As Amira and I traveled together, enduring delayed flights, and grumpy travelers, we talked about how grateful we were to be together to make a presentation at the Washington Health Care Association about new dementia research and techniques. At one point near the end of our trip, I commented, “Amira, this has been a long trip with lots of delays – but have you noticed how nice everyone is – from the concession stand workers to the TSA, and beyond?” We both stopped and looked at one another and then burst out laughing and proclaimed, “Maybe it is because we are so nice to everyone.”
I do believe that we attract what we give. Being in a state of gratitude no matter what the circumstances is powerful! It gives us the courage to be and do anything – and it opens our hearts to creativity, kindness, and solution finding.
Many scientific studies, including research by renowned psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, have found that people who consciously focus on gratitude experience greater emotional well-being and physical health than those who don’t.
If you want more happiness, joy, and energy, gratitude is clearly a crucial quality to cultivate.
- Gratitude is a fullness of heart that moves us from limitation and fear to expansion and love.
- When we’re appreciating something, our ego moves out of the way and we connect with our soul.
- Gratitude brings our attention to the present.
- The deeper our appreciation, the more our life flows in harmony with creative power.
Here are three powerful gratitude practices for you to try.
1. Keep a Gratitude Journal: One of the earliest advocates of a daily gratitude practice was Dutch philosopher Rabbi Baruch Spinoza. In the seventeenth century, he suggested that each day for a month, we ask ourselves the following three questions:
- Who or what inspired me today?
- What brought me happiness today?
- What brought me comfort and deep peace today?
2. Write a Thank You Letter: Make a list of at least five people who have had a profound impact on your life. Choose one and write a thank you letter expressing gratitude for all the gifts you’ve received from that person. If possible, deliver your gratitude letter in person.
- In studies of people who have practiced this form of gratitude, the results have been amazing.
- Often the recipient of the letter had no idea what an impact he or she had had on another person and were deeply touched by the expression of such authentic gratitude.
- While we may often thank people verbally, the written word can often be even more powerful because someone has taken the time to write their appreciation.
- A letter can also be re-read and treasured, creating joy and love.
3. Take a Gratitude Walk. Set aside 20 minutes (or longer if you can) and walk in your neighborhood, through a park, around your office, or somewhere in nature. As you walk, consider the many things for which you are grateful. Breathe, pause, and be grateful for the air that is filling your lungs and making your life possible.
Gratitude is a powerful process for shifting your energy and bringing more of what you want into your life. Be grateful and you will attract more good things!
Enjoy this 7-minute video about an experiment in Gratitude. A beautiful example of Gratitude practice number 2 – writing a letter expressing gratitude for all the gifts you’ve received from that person.
About the Author: Jean Garboden is the Director of Education and Innovation at Compass Senior Living, located in Eugene Oregon. Jean is an Elder Advocate and Eden Alternative Educator with over 30 years’ experience in not-for-profit and for-profit healthcare organizations. She is honored to lead the mission and values culture development for Compass Senior Living. Jean lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where she enjoys the weather and volunteers with the Nevadans for the Common Good, advocating for caregivers and elders in southern Nevada