Despite all the research articles, psychologists and movies telling usto practice gratitude, why do we find it so damn hard?
The problem is misery loves company. Raise your hand if you've found yourself complaining about the state of the world with your coworkers, ...especially easy to do in the past two years. Yeah, me too.
Notice how your body feels when you are in the “complainy” place. As soon as I pay attention to it, I notice I’m slouching and my shoulders round forward compressing my heart and lungs, which makes my breath shallow. I am physically smaller in this state. I’m mentally smaller too, because I’m operating from a closed mindset. Let’s get out of here!
What does gratitude feel like? When I am able to be fully open and present to feeling what and who I am grateful for, it feels like my rib cage, heart and lungs are expanding. I feel open and alive. Great. So, how do you do that?
To illustrate using an example, today I am grateful for a new client I have the pleasure to work with. As I think about that client, I visualize his face and say his name, Nate (not his real name).
The more specific you are, the more powerfully it works.
I’m picturing Nate and all the qualities I appreciate about him. He is committed to self-discovery and is open to feedback. My heart feels warm, as I appreciate Nate, and my breath deepens. He participates fully in our coaching sessions and isn’t afraid to dig deep, when I ask him challenging questions. Nate’s openness helps me access my best skills as his coach to assist in his personal growth and implementation success. Seeing him thrive is so fulfilling for me. As I continue to breathe, I am calm and alert to a tingling sensation travel up the back of my head. It’s as if my every nerve ending is awake and lit up.
Now, you try it. Think of something specific you are grateful for. It only takes one minute. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Do it right now (unless you are driving or operating heavy equipment!) Visualize the situation or person and think about specifically why you are grateful. What are all the qualities of the situation that make you feel grateful and you would like more of in your life? List as many as you can think of.
Now, notice the emotion you are feeling after exploring gratitude. The emotion I experience after the feeling of gratitude is often joy, but it might be something different for you. Use that feeling to start looking at possibilities to create more of what you want in your life. Rather than taking what life hands you, use this frame of mind to think of one choice you can make to do something important to you. Change happens one choice at a time. Do this gratitude practice regularly, progressing toward daily, and you will be many positive choices closer to living your life your way.
Carrie Tuttle is the lead coach, speaker and founder of Team Mojo, a firm that works to ignite energy and meaning into work for sales and marketing professionals. -Photo credit Debby Hudson on Unsplash