This (Often Overlooked) Practice is the Secret to Manifesting Whatever Want.

It’s often more comfortable to remember the bad experiences in life, rather than the good.

When unfortunate things happen, we tend to spend a significant amount (sometimes too much) of time and energy thinking about what went wrong. And there’s a place for that and a time. But what often ends up happening is that we get trapped in a downward spiral of negative thought loops that take us from feeling bad to worse.

The antidote?

By taking the time to practice gratitude, we focus on thoughts, memories, and feelings from our lives that we feel a deep connection with. What we feel is what we attract, and so with these feelings expanding, we become magnets for all that we desire. The more we feel the way we want to feel, the more we attract the same of those feelings. And so the wheel of magnetic attraction is set into motion.

By genuinely feeling grateful in your heart, and choosing to articulate it through your words and your actions, you’ll become that which you focus on.

And it’s not about spiritually bypassing the sad feelings you have, nor the disappointment that you inevitably experience from time to time. It’s about acknowledging them as a part of the bigger picture; feeling it ALL, and then ALSO focussing on the things that you DO have.

Being able to put your problems into perspective and find the good in your life will help to keep you grounded and encourage you to keep your focus on the things that you DO have, that matter to you.

Practising gratitude has numerous positive benefits (which have been studied and documented by some of the world's best) both physical and psychological, so why do so many of us fail to practice gratitude in our daily lives?

The most straightforward answer is that we are taught to be ambitious and always strive to be better, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, except that, through that process, we tend to miss out on the present moment.  (feel familiar!?)

When you practice gratitude, you’re in the present moment, and you open your heart (which has the strongest electromagnetic field of all organs in the body) to infinite possibilities and in so doing, you cultivate that which you seek.

Let’s look at a quick-start way to practice.

Step 1 – Understand that Gratitude is a Choice

In the same way that you can choose to be optimistic or pessimistic, you can also choose whether or not you are going to be grateful for your life. When you practice gratitude, you're actively choosing to see the good and appreciate it.

When you learn to focus on (which is a skill by the way) the things you have to be grateful for, you gain so much; and all you have to do is shift your perspective. You therefore experience a richer, more fulfilled quality of life. All it takes is for you to actively change your outlook.

Choosing to be grateful is easier said than done. Not only will it require you to actively choose it every day (until it becomes a habit that you don’t have to think about) everyday life, but you will also have to commit to practising it regularly. Just like with any other skill, developing a habit of gratitude takes time, patience and practice.

As you practice gratitude more and more, you'll notice that it becomes easier to acknowledge the things that you are thankful for. You'll start to experience periods of bliss, joy and equanimity which only encourage you deeper into your practice. When times get tough, you'll have an added advantage, which will affect your attitude and your perspective on the situation at hand.

You can actively begin to practice gratitude by participating in the following consciousness exercise:

  1. Find a quiet place, where you won’t be disturbed for at least ten minutes. Grab a journal/notebook and pen.

  2. Think of ten things that you are grateful for at this very moment. They don’t have to be big, monumental things, they could be small things that happened to you during the day, or perhaps people and or pets in your life. Write down the ten items in your journal or notebook.

  3. Take the time to look at each one and ask yourself why you are grateful for it.

Then, over the next 24 hours, try to stay conscious of your gratitude. Take a mental note of the things that bring a smile to your face, and notice when you feel a sense of gratitude for your relationships. You may even decide to keep a gratitude journal. This simple practice of journaling daily will be helpful when you feel stuck in a particularly tricky situation, as you’ll be able to refer back to times and experiences you have already experienced.

To start a gratitude journal, pick up a notepad that you can use to write in every day. (Many smartphone applications are designed for this very purpose). On the first page of the journal, write down three intentions of what you’d like to receive from this practice.

For example, they could be:

  1. Peace of mind

  2. Support through challenging situations

  3. Increase my capacity for joy, peace and equanimity.

For the next four weeks (or longer if you wish), write down three things that you are grateful for each day. While it's alright to repeat things from day to day, you'll get more out of the exercise when you can come up with specific things that you notice each day. As you write these things down, be sure to include why you are grateful for them.

For example: I’m grateful for my fur-kids, Marvin and Lily, because they’re so playful and remind me to stop working every day for a walk in the park.  Come to think of it, the daily walk brings me so much joy because I’m out in nature without my phone. Free to think and be in the presence of beauty without the constant pings and reminders.

It’s helpful to make a mental note of each thing that you are grateful for during the day to help you complete the exercise before you go to bed. This is an exercise in conscious living.  Once a week, look back over your entries and allow yourself to revel in revisiting the many memories that you have from that week alone.

Step 2 – Learn to Counteract Negativity

When you begin to practice gratitude in your life, you’ll soon find that you’re able to cope with the effects of negative emotions from challenging situations that you face.

If you’ve started the work of conscious living, as per step 1, you’ll have already noticed this shift. It happens automatically because when we think about the things that we are grateful for, we are actively choosing to focus on a positive aspect of our experience and the good that comes from that. By bringing this practice to stressful situations, you can shift your focus to a response that leads to more energy and clarity to manage any problematic situation. Again, I’m not asking you to ignore your feelings, I’m suggesting that you give space to ALL of them, including Gratitude and Appreciation.

Learning to counteract negativity is not to suggest that you live a life of relentless optimism. This way of thinking is unrealistic and can end up doing more harm than good.  Instead, using gratitude to counteract negativity is not about feeling positive all the time, but rather learning how to be grateful for what you do have and gaining a greater peace of mind during times of turmoil, providing you with more resilience to cope with obstacles.

Incorporating gratitude in your life will help you to lean into a greater sense of well-being and bring more joy into your life. (sign me up!)

While it won't prevent you from experiencing hardships, gratitude can create a more constructive outlook and allow you to accept adverse situations from a proactive perspective, solving problems more efficiently and helping you to better deal with the adversity you'll inevitably face throughout your life.

Step 3 – Stay Grateful When Striving For Your Goals

You may be thinking that gratitude runs contrary to ambition. Perhaps you’re thinking that if you focus on being happy with what you have, you won’t strive for anything else. NOT TRUE.

Studies have shown that incorporating a practice of gratitude in your life will help you progress toward your personal goals. Practicing gratitude enables you to notice what is important in your life, and waste less energy on seemingly useless and unimportant things.

Practising gratitude can also stimulate more energy from the most powerful energy source (your heart), therefore inspiring you to bring about change.

*Gratitude has also been proven to reduce anxiety and stress, which can help to increase your quality of work when you are in more pressured situations. You are more likely to succeed because you are grateful for where you are in your life. (more on this to come)*

Grateful people shine brighter, which allows them to make progress towards their goals.

Step 4 – Express Gratitude to Better Your Relationships

Studies have shown the positive links between the practice of gratitude and the strength of relationships. Gratitude can help you form and maintain better relationships and is one of the key contributing factors towards relationship fulfilment.

When you are genuinely grateful for the person you're with, you are more likely to be kinder towards them, therefore contributing wholeheartedly to your partnership.  Gratitude can also help you to better enjoy and cherish the time you spend with your other half (friends and family too), resulting in them feeling more appreciated and more grateful towards you too.

To start improving your relationships through gratitude, start by consciously and intentionally appreciating your partner. Take the time to notice all the things you appreciate about them, their personality, their mannerisms, their actions. Think about what it is you love about them. Consider why you enjoy spending time with them. When you become more aware of these things, you’ll start to notice yourself being more grateful for them.

This is not to say that all relationships will work if both of you practice gratitude.

You have to be genuinely grateful if you want it to work and of course, if you don't particularly feel positive about your partner, you will end up struggling to generate an authentic sense of gratitude.

Practising gratitude can also improve your relationship with yourself and others outside of your intimate partnerships. With regular practice, you will better appreciate the things that you like about yourself. Gratitude will also deepen your focus on the essential things in life. As you practice gratitude, you will begin to eliminate the heaviness that you may feel about yourself or certain aspects of your life.

Step 5 – Stop Complaining (my favourite)

If you genuinely want to find power through gratitude, you may want to avoid complaining,  whining and expressing cynical comments.  While this isn't to say that you have to eliminate all negative thoughts, it merely means that you acknowledge your ability to choose what you focus on and speak to.  When you refuse to make pessimistic observations (whether they be festering thoughts or verbal comments), you ultimately take power away from detrimental thought patterns, removing them completely, resulting in more time and energy to focus on other relevant and supportive things.

If you find the idea of not grumbling a bit challenging, you can participate in the "A Complaint Free World" challenge. Essentially this challenge requires you to stay complaint-free for a full 21 days. This exercise is helpful, especially if you are attempting to practice gratitude, because of its very nature to actively discourage negative thinking.

If you feel that 21 days is far too long, you can start with the next 24 hours.

For the next 24 hours, avoid criticising and squawking about pernicious things. If you falter, don’t give up, take the time to note the complaint and what caused it, then reset the clock and start again. After the 24 hours is up, you may notice that you feel more cheerful.

Then start the challenge again and see if you can make it 48 hours without complaining.

As you continue with your practice of gratitude, refer back to the intentions that you set in your journal. Be aware of the mindset you were in when you created them, and reflect on the changes that you’ve experienced, the challenges you faced, and the progress you’ve made on your journey to power through gratitude.

Remember, gratitude is a choice and a personal strength that needs to be trained and honed to reap all the benefits it has to offer. If you want to experience real, long-term changes in your life, be persistent with your regular practice.

Remember,  gratitude is as much about giving back to others as it is about helping yourself. By practising gratitude, you can lead a truly fulfilling and joyous life.

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