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FOCUS: Gratitude

DISCIPLINE: Mental Models, Personal Mastery

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all others.
Cicero

Thanksgiving is over, but gratitude is such a powerful phenomenon it’s worth cultivating for everyday use! Gratitude is many things: a feeling, an attitude, a practice, a way of life.

A Feeling

Amazing things happen in the brain and body when we experience the feeling of gratitude. Gratitude opens our hearts. Research has shown that feeling grateful can literally shift our hearts into a healthy heart frequency. When we feel grateful our brains flood with chemicals — endorphins — that make us feel good. Gratitude spawns other positive feelings, like love, compassion, joy and hope. It’s also true that we can’t feel grateful and have a negative emotion such as anger or fear at the same time. That’s worth remembering!

An Attitude

When we cultivate an attitude of gratitude, it expands our world and attracts people to us. (Blaming, complaining, and judging contract our world, making us less attractive and more isolated.) We can “act as if” in developing this attitude. We can love even when we don’t feel loving and be kind even when we’d rather be surly. In a neat twist, an attitude of gratitude often shifts our feelings.

A Practice

Pessimists are people who have exercised their muscles of negativity and lack until they are very strong. Optimists are people who have developed their gratitude muscles. The real gift is when, through practice, gratitude becomes a way of life.

Coaching Tips

I encourage you to develop your gratitude muscles until they are strong and automatic. Here are some things that will help:

1. Count your blessings! Stop right now and write down at least ten things you’re genuinely grateful for. Include small things and large, such as: the fact that you woke up this morning, that you have great talent, that you are loved, that the sun is shining, that you love many people, the support you get from others, your devoted dog, etc. etc.

2. Practice noticing things you’re grateful for during “stillpoints” when you’re transitioning between tasks, walking down the hall, pouring a cup of tea, going to the bathroom.

3. If you have trouble thinking of things you’re grateful for, be ridiculous. Be grateful for bad things that haven’t happened – you don’t have Alzheimer’s, for example.

4. Think of someone in your life who annoys you. Now think of two things about that person you’re grateful for. Notice how quickly a feeling can change depending on what you focus on.

5. Teach gratitude to your children. Not, “Thank your Aunt Margie,” which instills guilt, but perhaps asking your kids before they go to sleep to share one thing they appreciate about themselves and one reason they're grateful for someone else.

6. Start a business meeting by sharing what you’re grateful for. Include progress on projects, help received from various people both in and out of the room. You’ll be amazed at the positive energy this generates.

7. A great book to read on this subject is Attitudes of Gratitude, How to Give and Receive Joy Every Day of Your Life, by M.J. Ryan.

Invitation:

Please join me for a 45-minute telegathering to explore the topic of gratitude together. Call Tuesday, December 12 at noon Eastern (11:00 a.m. Central, 10:00 a.m. MT, 9:00 a.m. Pacific) 1-985-425-2620 X925 No need to register….just call at that time!

Sharon Eakes | 720 Maple Lane | Sewickley, PA 15143

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