Last updated on October 25th, 2023 at 04:54 pm
I believe practicing gratitude is imperative to making your big dreams a reality. Some of the things I am personally grateful for on my dream journey may surprise you.
For example, I am grateful that my tenants accidentally set my house on fire. Sound crazy? Perhaps. Yet no one was hurt, and the insurance money allowed me to redo everything—a new kitchen, bathroom, and master bedroom. My renovated home is beautiful.
I am grateful that an ex-boyfriend took his ex-wife back, although it hurt at the time and obviously ended our relationship because it opened up space in my life for someone new and wonderful.
I am grateful that I was turned down for the mayoral fellowship I applied for in Baltimore, MD, after graduate school because it meant I went to work for the mayor of San Francisco instead. The move to California changed my life forever.
It is not always easy to practice gratitude when things seem to be going all wrong. Yet, shifting your perspective to gratitude can change everything.
In Maya Angelou’s book, Letter to My Daughter, she describes a time in her life when she was in despair. She went to see her mentor and told him she was going crazy.
“Here is a yellow pad and here is a ballpoint pen,” he said. “I want you to write down your blessings.” “I don’t want to talk about that,” Maya said. “I’m telling you I’m going crazy.” He insisted. “Think of the millions of people all over the world who cannot hear a choir or a symphony or their own babies crying,” he said. “Write down I can hear, thank God.”
“Write down that you can see this yellow pad and think of all of millions of people around the world who cannot see a waterfall or a flower blooming or their lover’s face. Write down I can see, thank God.” As she reached the last line of that yellow notepad, she said, “the madness was routed.”
Maya Angelou wrote all of her books and poems on yellow notepads. “As I approach the clean page, I think of how blessed I am.”
Being Grateful Is Good For Your Health
Maya Angelou’s mentor was onto something. Science has actually shown that practicing gratitude is good for you! According to a study by Dr. Robert Emmons, those who kept gratitude journals:
- exercised more regularly,
- reported fewer physical symptoms,
- felt better about their lives as a whole,
- and were more optimistic about the upcoming week
over those who recorded “hassles or neutral life events.” They were also more likely to make progress on their personal and professional goals. So, being grateful can be a powerful and transformative mindset that can enhance your overall well-being and happiness. It’s about appreciating the positives in your life, even when facing challenges or adversity.
8 Ways to Be Grateful No Matter What
Start by being more aware of your thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness helps you notice the good things you might otherwise take for granted in your life. Practice being present in the moment.
2. Keep a gratitude journal.
If you like, try an online journal like this one: Grateful.org/Practice/Private-Gratitude-Journal
3. Count your Blessings.
When you wake up in the morning, before you start your day, take a few minutes to give thanks for being alive and to count your blessings.
4. Look for the Improbable Gifts.
Things that didn’t go your way but taught you lessons or created new possibilities in your life.
5. Remember Impermanence.
Recognize that life is constantly changing. The difficult times will pass, and the good times will also evolve. This perspective can help you appreciate the present.
6. Use Positive Affirmations.
Repeating positive affirmations can help shift your mindset towards gratitude. Examples include “I am grateful for the abundance in my life” or “I appreciate the love and support I receive.”
7. Limit Negative Inputs.
Reduce exposure to negative news, social media, or people who constantly complain. This can help maintain a positive outlook.
8. Practice Self-Compassion.
Treat yourself with kindness and understanding. Don’t be too hard on yourself. This self-compassion can make it easier to see the good in your life.
I am grateful for the chance to pursue my dreams, for the people in my life, my good health, my home, and all my adventures. And yes, for those times, things seemingly went wildly wrong, yet somehow turned out for the best. Remember that cultivating gratitude is an ongoing process. It’s about training your mind to see the positives in life, even when things are tough. Over time, this practice can lead to a more content and grateful outlook, no matter what life throws your way.
A solid gratitude practice creates a positive, empowering, and hopeful environment that can create a conducive atmosphere for your dreams to come true. It not only influences your mindset and motivation but also how you interact with the world and the sudden opportunities that come your way.
Lisa P. Graham is an inspirational writer, life coach, TED motivational speaker, and globe-trotter whose passion is to help others to find happiness and meaning in their daily lives. A political activist at heart, Lisa would like to empower more women to run for political office as a way to create positive change in the world. You can find her on her website or watch her TEDx speech on YouTube.
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