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Saturday, January 6, 2007

It All Starts With Gratitude

No matter what you want to improve in your life - whether it is to make more money by getting a better job or a promotion, or whether you want to be happier and have better relationships with the people close to you - the first step is to be grateful for the things that you already have.

It may be tempting to react by thinking that you don’t have many things to be grateful for. But take a few minutes and look around the room you are sitting in right now, and look at all the things that you have. You probably have a tv, and you probably have a vcr or a tivo along with a stereo and some furniture. Now expand to all the other physical belongings you have in your house or apartment. If you compare all the things you have to people living hundreds of years ago, you have to admit that you’re living like a king. In fact, you probably have it better than a king had it several hundred years ago. Think about it – castles were very drafty and damp, and sickness was rampant.

Another fact of being a king was the threat of having your kingdom overrun by enemy forces, and quite possibly someone from within your kingdom trying to overthrow you. It’s probably true that most kings would have traded their entire fortune for the ability to fly to distant land in a matter of hours. So, all things considered, you have things pretty good. In fact, you are living better than a king!

Consider also the fact that there are millions of people in the world today who can’t care for themselves and their families properly. There are millions who face the threat of violence in various forms, ranging from gang violence and street crimes, to bombings and various military campaigns.

Now that we have that out of the way, let me say again that the first step in improving your life, being happier, and getting more of the things you want is to be grateful for all of the things that you already have. It is important to cultivate an “attitude of gratitude” to keep good things like more money, happiness, and overall abundance flowing into your life. Why, you ask? It’s quite simple really. To be grateful for the things you receive takes you away from being ungrateful and focusing on lack and scarcity in your life.

A person who is grateful and thankful for all that they have does not take things for granted, and in developing a constant gratefulness develops an expectation that good things will happen. When you truly believe that good things will happen, you develop faith, which is one of the most important qualities in achieving goals and making the things you want to happen a reality. Plus – you will be a happier person. Guaranteed!

So, how exactly can you develop an attitude of gratitude? There are actually different levels of gratitude, but getting started is easy. Always acknowledge what you have now. Instead of complaining about what you don’t have, acknowledge and appreciate what you have now because there are lots of people who have less than you do. Maybe you’ve heard the one about the guy who complained that he didn’t have any shoes until he met a man who didn’t have any feet - the thing to keep in mind is that there are people all over who have things much worse than you do.

Start by making a list of all the things you are grateful for in your life right now. Try to list at least 20-30 things that you are thankful that you have, and include things like the special people in your life, your experiences, personal attributes, and material possessions. For example: your spouse, best friend, your physical health, your home/car/gadgets, your favorite tv show, etc. If you can list more than 30 – terrific! Take a few minutes and do this right now…

Did you do it? Congratulations – you’ve taken the first step toward developing an attitude of gratitude. This basic level of gratitude is being thankful for the things, people, and events that are already a part of our lives and when things go our way.

Another level of gratitude involves being grateful for things that do not go your way. I know you may be thinking, “What? Be glad when things don’t go my way?” Well, yes. You see, often times when you are working toward goals we experience setbacks or roadblocks that at times seem like failures. The important lesson to keep in mind is that setbacks are only temporary, and to be successful at anything requires persistence and the ability to move past disappointments. Persistence is another quality that must be developed if you are to be truly successful at anything.

In studying the most successful people in history, they have all had to deal with temporary defeats in one way or another, and they discovered that their failures were actually blessings in disguise. And after dealing with what seemed like a failure, they actually achieved something bigger than they had originally imagined. Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times before creating the working light bulb, and was thankful to have found “several thousands of things that won’t work.” Donald Trump went bankrupt, but eventually got all of his money back – and more.

So instead of being upset when things that you want to happen don’t quite work out – be grateful. If you review the situation, find the lesson in it, and move on, you will develop a stronger sense of faith and persistence, which will eventually lead to higher rewards. In addition to seeing a setback as an opportunity to learn a valuable lesson and discover an opportunity that was bigger and better than you originally had imagined, it’s important to realize that there are times when things that don’t happen prevent disasters from happening.

Now that you are aware of how being grateful for what you have can improve your outlook and the results you are currently getting, it’s time to develop a regular routine and put it into practice. I promise you that if you make a habit of taking a daily inventory of the things you are grateful for, you will see incredible results in how you feel as well as the results you get.

Your daily routine will be to start a “gratitude journal.” It’s easy to do, and you can start right away. Get a notebook, and at the end of the day, write the date at the top of the page, and below it right down all the things you are grateful for and try to feel each one. What you write down can include all areas of your life – material things you currently have, special people in your life, things that went your way, things that made you laugh, things that taught you a lesson, etc. As an example, here’s how a day might look:
I’m grateful for:
An easy commute today, the motivation to work out, a great sleep, my house, the city I live in, making 3 sales today, a great work environment with unlimited opportunities, a supportive boss, my wife, getting to talk with a friend today, a great supper, spending time with the kids, my health…

Again, your list can include anything big or small. The important thing is that you are taking the time to recollect and think back on your day to take note of the good things that happened. When you do this, you will begin to be thankful for more things, and when you get into the habit of appreciating everything you have and all the positive experiences – including the smaller things, like a good cup of coffee – you are not focusing on what is missing in your life.

When you are focused on finding things that are positive – things you can be grateful for – you will undoubtedly find them. As you continue to look for things to be grateful for, you will be drawn to limitless positive outcomes. And by taking the time to acknowledge the great things that happen to you, what you will really be doing is developing a greater ability to “live” each day instead of having the feeling that life is passing you by. After all, “living” is what it’s all about, right?

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