Gratitude as a pathway to success

Very often, we turn to science for help when we want to achieve something. Or medicine, for that matter. Sometimes it...

Very often, we turn to science for help when we want to achieve something. Or medicine, for that matter. Sometimes it seems there is a pill for everything, or when there isn’t, we wish there was. Many of us look outside of ourselves for things that will make us feel better, gain more self-esteem, sleep better, be happier, be more productive, and so on. The list is endless.

And in all this, we forget the things that are closest to ourselves – within ourselves – and that cost us nothing to use or practice. Like gratitude.

There’s a lot of research that shows the many benefits of having an attitude of gratitudean attitude defined by the simple act of being thankful: for your life, for your work, for what you have, for your health, for your friends and family members… for being alive. And for realizing what a miracle that is, and how fortunate you are for being able to experience it.

As Goeffrey James so beautifully says in this Inc.com article about the benefits of a gratitude muscle:

People who approach life with a sense of gratitude are constantly aware of what’s wonderful in their life. Because they enjoy the fruits of their successes, they seek out more success. And when things don’t go as planned, people who are grateful can put failure into perspective.

On the other hand, people who approach life with a negative attitude will approach success and failure in a completely different way, too, and will never be able to truly enjoy what they have worked for, or to cope well and overcome the failures that are inevitably part of life, and business, in a way that helps them to grow and move forward.

If this is true, and I believe that it is, the real question is: how can we remember to be grateful? And, how do we live with an attitude of gratitude?

In the prep program that I’ve designed to get clear on what you want and to turn that into actionable actions towards your goals (accessible for free to the members of The Boho Loft, by the way), there’s a section about gratitude and the importance of keeping a gratitude list.

During one of the group coaching calls, though, one of my students asked how to stay motivated to write down such a list “when nothing much happens in your life”. I thanked my student for this question, as this is something that has been hard for me to deal with at times, too. We live in a world where everything needs to be big and grand it seems, but gratitude doesn’t work that way. At least, not if you want a sustainable practice.

So, how do you keep an attitude of gratitude, whatever your day looks like?

Celebrate the little things
You don’t need be superwoman to be grateful. Look around you – at your life, at yourself. There are so many things to be grateful for, most of which go by unnoticed. Did you have comfy shoes on today (okay, that one might be tricky for some women, I admit), or did you have a beautiful pair on (there, that’s probably more like it)? Be grateful! Do you have a roof over your head, and enough food to eat? Be grateful. Is it warm enough where you are? Is the Sun shining? Be grateful. Did you see a flower today? Did someone smile at you? Be grateful. These are just a few of the many experiences and things we encounter on a daily basis in our lives, and yet we feel to recognize them for the blessings that they are. So, make sure to include the little things in your gratitude practice. Believe me, there is plenty to be thankful for.

Gratitude as a pathway to success

Don’t be afraid to say ‘thank you’
I have found that saying ‘thank you’ to those around you for all that they do for you, and for what they mean to you, really helps to put you in an attitude of gratitude. And the added benefit is that you’re spreading the love and gratitude around at the same time. I have never seen anyone remain unhappy after someone thanked them from the heart. On the contrary, thanking someone almost always lifts the mood of that person, and of the one saying ‘thank you’, too. It’s one of the best remedies I know to get myself into a state of happiness. Try it, and you’ll see. Oh, and smile – that’s a good one, too, I promise.

Check in with yourself and count your blessings
Hectic moments can sometimes follow one another for days on end, without giving us enough time to even catch our breath, it seems. In the midst of chaos, take a moment to check in with yourself and remember something that you’re grateful for. It can be a little thing, or a big thing. Whatever you want, really. It might help you to keep a note on your phone, or on a card with a list of things you’re grateful for. Then, when it’s time to check in with yourself, just read the list and say “Thank you”.

Keep a gratitude journal
Writing things down is often more powerful than reading things, or even saying them out loud (it’s not me saying this; it’s research!). I cannot recommend anything more than for you to keep a gratitude journal. Journaling in general is a very efficient way to get to know your deepest thoughts and desires, and when you’re focused on gratitude, journaling becomes a way to see all the beautiful things in your life. Journaling doesn’t need to take long either; you can choose how long you want to spend writing. But I encourage you to try, and feel the benefits for yourself.

Ultimately, every day is a new opportunity for you to say ‘thank you’. And in the comments below, I’d love to know what it is you’re grateful for.

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