by Diane Linsley
Before I became a life coach, I thought that gratitude was a feeling
that either happened to me or didn't, and I thought it depended on
whether or not I got what I wanted.
In the coaching academy, I learned that gratitude is a practice that
raises your vibration. Gratitude is at the top of the Emotional
and Peace. These emotions go together. If you practice one of them,
the others also become stronger.
Gratitude Improves Your Health
If you need a good reason to practice gratitude, consider these
quotes by two very effective medical doctors. I got them from a
video about reducing anxiety, pain and inflammation.
"Just be grateful that you had an opportunity to make a difference. It's one of my guiding principles of life. It's such a powerful thing. It's like fertilizer for life. It really helps your body, your mind, your spirit, your soul. It's such a powerful strategy." ~Dr. Joseph Mercola
"Gratitude cranks up your anti-inflammatory cytokines. It actually has a direct physiological effect on your body." ~Dr. David Hanscom
Gratitude Raises Your Vibration
One of the fastest ways to experience a shift in your emotional state is to practice gratitude. It's a sure-fire way to experience more joy in your life. It also improves your relationships.
When teaching this practice to clients, I start with something easy. I ask them to look around and choose an object to be grateful for - like a lamp, for example. Then I ask them to spend one minute telling me all the reasons why they are grateful for this object.
Next, we move on to a person - like the clerk at the grocery store. Again, they spend a minute telling me why they are grateful for this person. Then we make the process a little harder. I ask them to do the following writing exercise.
Gratitude Writing Exercise
Grab a pen and paper, and write at the top of the page a declaration of gratitude for one of the most painful things that is happening in your life right now. Then list 5 reasons why you are grateful for this condition. Here's an example of how I did this process when I first learned it:
"I am grateful that I'm single because...."
1. I am responsible for my own life and how I spend my time. I'm developing self-reliance.
2. I have no one else to blame for my problems. I'm breaking the habits of projecting and fighting.
3. I can eat, sleep, exercise, read, listen to music, and go places when I want to. I'm figuring out what I like to do, and I'm learning how to take care of myself.
4. I can focus on my work and hobbies with fewer distractions.
5. I have more time for friends, family and coaching clients.
Now, go back over the list, and read each statement out loud and expound on it. Go into detail. Speak as if you are talking to a good friend, explaining to them why it's important to you.
Put some emotion into it. You might say something like, "Wow! I never realized how lucky I am to be single. I feel so free and open to new possibilities. I can do anything I want to! Sometimes it feels a little overwhelming to be so free, but I'm excited about the challenge. This is going to be the greatest year ever for my personal growth. I'm so grateful for this opportunity! I'm going to make the best of it."
Place your list somewhere where you can see it every day. Over the next few weeks, notice how feelings of gratitude begin to spontaneously arise as you go about your day, doing the things that you are now consciously grateful for.
How Gratitude Works
We learned in the coaching academy that there are two sides to every story. If we are attached to the view that our current situation is bad, we tend to focus on the negative side of the story. But there is always a positive side, which we may be reluctant to acknowledge.
Why are we reluctant to be grateful for difficult things? I think it's because we're afraid that if we are grateful, we will get stuck in the situation forever. Nothing could be further from the truth. Shortly after I experienced profound gratitude for being single, I met my soulmate. How ironic! I was just starting to truly enjoy being single :) When I acknowledged the positive aspects of being single, I suddenly stopped feeling sad, lonely and fearful. My vibration was higher. If what they say about Law of Attraction is true, my higher vibration helped me attract a very positive and loving partner. Before I learned to be grateful for being single, I spent a lot of time doing the emotional healing process. It worked wonderfully for releasing negative emotions, but it didn't always take me to the top of the emotional scale.
This reminds me of when I was a gardener. I could weed my garden over and over, but the weeds kept coming back until I learned that "nature abhors a void." Once my garden was planted thickly with flowers, the weeds stopped coming back because they were mostly squeezed out by the flowers.
Releasing negative emotions is like pulling weeds. Practicing gratitude is like planting flowers. You get what you focus on. Gratitude is a way of focusing the mind on what you want.
Gratitude for Suffering
There are far worse things than being single. Can gratitude work for the really hard stuff?
I experimented to see if gratitude would help with my chronic illness. At the time of the experiment, I was having one of my periodic episodes of debilitating fatigue, which sometimes puts me out of commission for several weeks. How could I be grateful for that?
Here are 5 reasons why I am grateful for having a chronic illness:
1. It helped me develop compassion for others, making me a better mother, friend and coach.
3. I learned how to "stop and smell the roses." I appreciate the little things in life that most people don't notice. I'm very aware of how short life is, so I make an effort to enjoy something every day.
4. When I am sick, I get to spend more time reading and listening to music. Years ago, during a prolonged illness, I learned how to do energy work and lucid dreaming.
5. I chose a great career that I can do at home. I love being a life coach!
When I quit feeling sorry for myself and resisting my illness, I started feeling more energetic. The fatigue passed sooner than it usually does. And I was grateful for that, too.
Gratitude and Grieving
I'm not a fan of forcing yourself to feel grateful for tragic events when you are still going through the grieving process. There are some things that you may never feel grateful for, and that's okay. Forcing gratitude just creates guilt, which can makes you feel worse.
One of my teachers, Bill Harris, died recently. I was devasted when I got the news. Bill had taught me many things, and the Holosync program he created literally saved my life. He also encouraged me to become a life coach.
On the day that I learned of his death, as I sat crying in shock and grief, I suddenly felt an odd warmth in my heart, and I was overcome with a feeling of peace. I found myself thinking of all the things that Bill did for me and millions of other people. Even though I was still crying, I shifted from a feeling of deep loss to a feeling of profound gratitude.
I made a resolution at that moment to be the best coach I could possibly be. I dedicated my life to my spiritual practice and to serving other people, following my teacher's example.
Maybe this is why we give eulogies at funerals. Reflecting on the positive aspects of a person's life can help us shift our energy into the uplifting and inspiring vibration of gratitude.
Consider this quote by Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl. "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances."
The freedom to choose comes from awareness. As I learned from my teacher, a highly aware person can choose his feelings in any given moment. We don't have to be victims of random feelings. We can choose our own vibration. Here's an article about how gratitude improves your health. It includes an EFT tapping session with Julie Schiffman, along with great ideas on how to express gratitude. Here's a song that inspires me with feelings of gratitude.
As a life coach, I use many different processes to help
people with their personal growth. Click here if you are
Copyright (c) Self-Compassion Coaching with Diane Linsley. All rights reserved.