Day 22: Gratitude [31 Days of Possibility]

by Lani Voivod | @LaniVoivod

“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” - Meister Eckhart

“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” – John Milton

Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.” – Brian Tracy

I woke up this morning with the urge to cry in the back of my throat.

I wasn’t sad – I was grateful. Wildly, wholly, deeply, fiercely, terrifically grateful.

First, I knew this was the day in these 31 Days of Possibility specifically intended to celebrate the power of GRATITUDE. (That sure helps!)

More than that, though, I was struck by how important my heart knows Gratitude is to living a happy, healthy, and fulfilled life, and how lucky I am that I created this special opportunity to really immerse myself into the awesomeness of it.

When we shift into a spirit of Gratitude, we become a self-feeding machine of perpetual love, grace, awareness, humility, humanity, and yes, POSSIBILITY.

But what IS Gratitude?

“Psychologists view [gratitude] as being able to maintain a world view that appreciates the positive. That may sound like optimism, but unlike simply expecting the good, “appreciation” requires recognizing that happy outcomes are not just the result of your own hard work or moral uprightness, but depend on the efforts of others and, for the more spiritually-minded, on divine providence as well.” – Maia Szalavitz, Why Gratitude Isn’t Just for Thanksgiving

So Gratitude is a feeling and a state of being…

And it’s also an active decision to consider LIFE in all its flawed and wondrous glory.

When we put our big girl panties on and take a moment to absorb our lots in life through the lens of Gratitude, we boost our chances of touching the miracle of simply being here, alive, exactly as we are, where we are, and who we are.

Gratitude begets gratitude. Paying attention to our blessings and taking the time to SEE and FEEL all the gifts we’ve been given makes us realize just how often so many of our gifts and blessings go unnoticed and underappreciated.

“Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.” – Aesop

Dr. Emiliana Simon-Thomas, the science director of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, says studies consistently show that people who keep a gratitude journal are 25 percent happier than those who don’t. “The people who did the gratitude [journal] showed increases in happiness, reductions in stress, reductions in vulnerability to physical symptoms, such as headaches,” she says.

In his passionate article and videos about “Why Gratitude Is Good,” Robert Emmons, “the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude,” says Gratitude has the power to heal, to energize, and to change lives.

“I think gratitude allows us to participate more in life,” says Emmons. “We notice the positives more, and that magnifies the pleasures you get from life.”

“The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Like sooooo many teachers and thought leaders from a huge array of academic disciplines and spiritual walks of life (I first heard it from Oprah), Emmons recommends keeping a Gratitude Journal, a simple list of five things you’re grateful for every day, or even every week.

“It helps guard against taking things for granted,” explains Emmons. “Instead, we see gifts in life as new and exciting. I do believe that people who live a life of pervasive thankfulness really do experience life differently than people who cheat themselves out of life by not feeling grateful.”

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” – Gilbert K. Chesterton

As luck would have it, so would I. Now, that is…

I’ve got to be honest – the first 2 or 12 or 257 times I heard about the power of Gratitude, I couldn’t hear it. How could obsessively saying “Thank you” lead to incredible personal transformation? Isn’t that just what your mother taught you to say when someone held the door for you?

But then I tried it, more than a decade ago. I grabbed a journal, and started writing five things I was grateful for every day. My only rule for myself was that I couldn’t repeat something I wrote before. (This was so I didn’t get lazy about being grateful. I’m silly like that.)

Pretty soon I started going through my day amazed at how many things were worth noting in the journal. “Oooh, I’ll have to remember to jot that down!” I’d say when I hit a series of green lights on the way to an appointment, or when a cashier opened up a new register at the grocery store, or when my husband surprised me with the new Alanis Morissette CD.

Suddenly it seemed my whole life was filled with cool surprises, gifts of all shapes and sizes, and seeds of happiness I never really noticed before.

It truly is a powerful and fast-acting life booster!

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”  – Eckhart Tolle

Over the years, my practice of keeping a Gratitude Journal has been utterly imperfect. But one thing’s for sure – my life is definitely happier and my headspace is better when I’m keeping one.

These days fairly regularly, I maintain my practice on my iPhone with a fun little Gratitude Journal app by Happy Tapper. I can add photos to my entries, too, which gives me a really cool scrapbook of gratitude-infused memories – another gift that keeps on giving!

When I’m really on it, I’ll have my sons write five things they’re grateful for in their journals. Or rather, my 10 year old writes in his journal, while I take dictation for my 5 year old. From play dates to video games to pizza to weekends to karate lessons to a long list of friends and family members, once they get in the flow, there’s no stopping what they can come up with on their own. It does a Mama’s heart good, and always gives me more to add to my own list.

If you’re like me and you have to hear about the power of Gratitude from a bunch of different sources, from a slew of different perspectives, before you jump onto the Gratitude Bandwagon with both feet and a sassy smile, here are a few great quotes I’m hoping will do the trick faster for you:

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

“Got no checkbooks, got no banks. Still I’d like to express my thanks – I’ve got the sun in the mornin’ and the moon at night.”  – Irving Berlin

“The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.” – Henry Ward Beecher

“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.” – Carl Jung

Thich, Irving, Henry, and Carl are pretty convincing, don’t you think?

“He who does not reflect his life back to God in gratitude does not know himself.” – Albert Schweitzer

Practice gratitude. Be grateful. Know yourself. You are the bee’s knees. You are the cat’s meow. You’re truly, completely, unconditionally one of a kind. You’re the one bringing attention to this moment, right here, right now. It’s all about you. It always has been, and it always will be.

Thank you!

Check out the video for Day 22: Gratitude, in these 31 Days of Possibility!


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You can find us on Twitter at @LaniVoivod@AllenVoivod@EpiphaniesInc@AhaSummit, and @AhaYourself. Plus, you’re always welcome to ask questions, give feedback, and share some of your own experiences (and hopefully your big “A-Ha!” victories along the way), here in the comments, and on the Epiphanies, Inc. Facebook Page. Allen and I love to hear from you. Here’s to you and your vast and wondrous possibilities!

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