An Attitude of Gratitude!

So, we have reached the sixth and final pillar in our journey of self-discovery and  our search for a happy and purpose-filled life. I hope what we have covered has been as much use to you in reaching that place you want to be, as it has been for me. Today we unwrap the final foundation stone – and that is GRATITUDE!
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Why is gratitude so important in helping us to achieve our goals?One thing you will find often in the world of self-improvement is a never-ending trail of “trite little sayings” or “cliched expressions”. You should never necessarily reject something just because it is cliched. There is a reason that cliches gain ascendancy and that is because at their core they hold a vital kernel of truth.One particular expression that absolutely resonates from me comes from the motivational speaker Lisa Nichols. She says; “Gratitude is the rich soil in which our future grows.” There is so much truth in that simple statement. The way we think, speak and act today, directly impacts on where we will be tomorrow. We’ve seen right throughout this series, that one of the biggest keys to life is to live in the PRESENT. It is how we live in the present that determines what our tomorrow will be and gratitude is an absolutely vital component of that process.

So, simply put, gratitude is the oil that makes the engines of abundance flow freely. It is a word that you will come across in every single self-help book you ever read.

We all like to think we are grateful most of the time, but when you actually analyse your own behaviors you will quickly realize just what ungrateful little beggars we really are. I know I certainly did.

Gratitude has a power that absolutely defies belief. In Rhonda Byrne’s book “The Power” she quotes 13th Century German philosopher and mystic, Meister Eckhart little gem, that sums it up perfectly. “If the only prayer you ever utter in your entire life is; ‘Thank You’, then that will suffice”.

What we need to do is to develop an automatic attitude of gratitude and in order to do that we probably need to make a few, minor adjustments in our lifestyle and the way in which we view the world. I said earlier that most of us believe we are inherently grateful human beings, but the reality of the situation is that we are not. Most of us spend way more time complaining, whining, and criticizing than we ever do feeling grateful and satisfied with our situation.

You can not portray an attitude of gratitude if you continue to hold onto your old ways of thinking. A good example of this is the common expressions we often use or hear others using: “I’ll be so grateful when the kids finally graduate; I’ll be grateful when we have enough money to pay the monthly bills; I’ll be eternally grateful, if you just do this one little thing for me; or I will be thankful when…” The reality is we have to be grateful and thankful for what we have now, today.

I know a very common trait at about this time is for some people to throw their hands up in disgust and exclaim; “what have I got to be thankful for? My life sucks!” My simple answer to that would be that if it sucks, it sucks because of your negative thoughts, words and attitudes that you have embraced in the past – changing those now (today) will change your future, but it runs even deeper than that.I want to give you an example of one Helen Keller. Now Helen, at age 19 months, contracted an illness that left her deaf and therefore effectively speechless, as she had not had time to learn much language by that stage. If that wasn’t enough of life’s little hurdles for her to clamber over; she was also struck blind, by the illness.Those of us that know Helen’s story know that she rose from being considered by many to be a burden; a waste of space and time, to become the first deaf/blind person to gain a University degree, to become a writer, a political activist, and a teacher who would go on to influence and change the lives of so many people, both disabled and able-bodied during her 87 years on this planet.Did Helen Keller’s life suck? By any standards we might apply to our own live’s sucking – then certainly it did!Did she let that affect her and stop her? No, she did not. Helen Keller was grateful for what she did have – in the same way that we have to be grateful for the things that we have.I don’t care how bad the circumstances are in your life – there is ALWAYS something you can be grateful for. Every morning you can be grateful for a new day, a new opportunity to breathe, to walk, to talk and to exist. We take for granted so many of the wonderful experiences and things that we as human beings are blessed to enjoy and be grateful for every, single day – open your senses and enjoy the world around you and be grateful for the opportunity.

OK, so how about some practical steps in adopting the “attitude of gratitude”. 

– Say “thank you” at every single opportunity that arises – and don’t just say it as a matter of course; because that’s what your parents taught you to do. Actually mean it – be grateful for whatever that person has done for you. Even if you are paying for something, that doesn’t lessen the effort that person put into bringing it to you – be grateful and thankful.

– Start saying “thank you” every time you sit down to eat or drink. A lot of work has gone into getting that food or water, or whatever, to the place where it sits on your table. Be grateful to all the people who have been involved in bringing your food to you.

– Start your day with an attitude of thankfulness. In that quiet time we talked about in previous weeks, spend just a little time giving thanks to the Universe for the new day, for the blessings in your life.

– Make a gratitude list. We’ve talked previously about the power of actually writing things down. Have a gratitude journal and at various times during the day just jot down the things you are feeling grateful for (or be a techno-whizz and have it on your phone, tablet, laptop or PC). It doesn’t matter how you do it – the action of recording your gratefulness is exactly what is needed to give you that attitude of thankfulness.

– This is a big one! Stop complaining! When you feel annoyed or frustrated at a circumstance or a person – don’t vocalize your feelings. What you are unconsciously doing is asking the Universe for more of these annoying and frustrating circumstances or people. Remember – we become what we think, say and do! If you feel annoyed or frustrated focus instead on something you can take from the circumstance or person that is positive – something to be grateful for in that person or that circumstance. In time, this becomes easier and easier.

– If others are negative or critical of someone, or gossiping about someone – either walk away (if you can) or inject something positive about that person into the conversation. Be thankful that person is in your life. There is always something positive you can find in every person – otherwise that person wouldn’t be in your life.

The most important thing you can do to develop an attitude of gratitude is to simply ingrain it into your subconscious as a habit. And how do we create habits? By simple repetition! Research has shown us that it only takes around one month for a repetitive action to accepted by our subconscious as the “norm”. If we regularly and meaningfully practice the art of gratitude for just a short time it will become as natural and normal to us as walking, getting dressed in the morning, or driving – we won’t even have to think about it anymore. It will just come naturally.

So there we have it – over the past couple of months I have outlined the principles by which I now lead my life – a life that is purpose-filled, driven and incredibly happy. I’m not special in this, in an way, shape or form – anyone (and that means YOU!) can have exactly what I now have, just by applying the six pillars of life to their particular lives.

I’ll close today by summarizing those six pillars and reminding you that it doesn’t take a massive change to turn your life around and to begin to experience the abundance and joy that is your BIRTHRIGHT!

  1. Life is SUPPOSED to be wonderful!
  2. Attitude is EVERYTHING!
  3. LOVE is the ultimate power of the Universe!
  4. We must learn to live in the PRESENT!
  5. Happiness is a CHOICE!
  6. Maintain an attitude of GRATITUDE!

You now have the foundations for turning your life around, no matter how difficult your current situation feels or is.There is still so, so much more that can be learnt about ourselves, our brains and about life in general. I would strongly urge you, if you are serious about rejecting the past way of doing things and embracing our brave, new, exciting world; that you find yourself a mentor or a self-help guru who can support you and guide you on your journey.

As I’ve mentioned many times, there are a plethora of different styles and messages out there. I’ve mentioned also some of the people that I take the most notice of and you can certainly look at those as options, but one thing you should always remember is that although their styles and systems may vary, they ALL, every single one of them, have the same core philosophies about life and those are the core philosophies that I’ve called the “six pillars of life”.

For this reason, look less at their content and more at how they make you feel. If they excite you and resonate with you, then go for them. They are the ones you will learn the most from.

So, what now for us? I’ll have to think about what to present to you next week now that my series on life is done with, but rest assured, I will be back.

Perhaps I should write a book on my “six pillars of a purpose-driven life”. Hmmmm.

This article is an abridged version of a much more expansive article on the topic. The full text of the original article can be found here: G.Leishman – Author

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Grant Leishman
I am an expatriate New Zealander living in Manila, The Philippines, with my wife and two step-daughters. At age 55, after careers in Finance and Journalism, I have finally discovered my true passion in life - writing, and I am now "living the dream", writing full-time.

My first novel is a romantic fantasy about the return of Jesus Christ to modern day Manila to try and sort out the problems of the world - yet again! My second novel "Just a Drop in the Ocean" is completed and should be published in 2015.

The sequel to "The Second Coming" - "The Rise of the AntiChrist" is my current project, about 75% complete. .

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