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Thanksgiving gratitude

Gratitude Connects Us with Others

Thanksgiving is the time to incorporate gratitude in your life!

Living a life of gratitude improves our lives and helps to build healthier relationships with ourselves and with others. By offering thanksgiving for all that we have, we set the tone for all that is to come to us. We invite you to join us this Thanksgiving and beyond by giving thanks for where you are at this point in your life.

As we practice gratitude and grow by opening our hearts and minds, we become part of the fabric that connects us to others in a positive way. To better understand that connection, we’re going to do a little exercise to help you recognize where you are currently getting your support from and to consider other support that is available to you, but that you might not yet be taking advantage of. Understanding where your support comes from helps us to be grateful and to express our gratitude to others. It even helps to strengthen relationships.

Here’s a cute story recently shared with me. During this busy time of year, a mother was shopping with her two young boys. Boys will be boys, and before she knew it, they were arguing and pushing each other. Not wanting to condone their behavior, the mother stopped, right there in the middle of the store, and asked each boy to list three things he was grateful about. After they were done, they quit fighting, starting talking and laughing… enjoying each other’s company!! That is the beauty of gratitude. Even as children, these two boys understood and appreciated the support that they receive from each other, from their parents, and from their family and friends. By merely stating what they were grateful for, they were able to immediately connect with each other in a healthier manner.

Understanding our Support (Actual and Potential)

By examining the support from others that we already have and the support that is within reach, we too can create healthier relationships, both with ourselves and with others. So let’s get started. On a large blank sheet of paper, draw a pyramid. Draw two horizontal lines, dividing the pyramid into three layers. Draw a dividing line down through the middle of the pyramid, splitting it in half. On the top left side of the paper, write the word “Current”; on the top of the right side of the paper write the word “Potential.”

Creating Gratitude

Create a pyramid. On the left side, list current ways you support yourself. On the right, list potential ways your can support yourself even further.

Label the top layer “Self,” the middle layer “Family and Friends,” and the bottom layer “Extended Community.”

At the top level on the left side of the paper, write all the current ways that you support yourself. Include things like eating well, exercising, meditating, praying, recognizing God/Source, etc. On the right side of the paper, write all the potential ways that you could support yourself even further. You might write things like be more patient and forgiving, walk in nature, inspirational reading.

In the middle layer write all the current ways that you are supported by your family and friends. Include things like sharing healthy meals, encouraging you to exercise, listening to you when you are frustrated, etc. On the right side of the paper, write all the potential ways that you could be supported by others to an even greater extent. You may want to include things like planning a retreat to a place you’ve wanted to go for years, starting a business, asking for mentoring from someone you hold in high regard.

On the bottom layer write all the current ways that you are supported by your extended community. Include, attending a caring church, living in a neighborhood where people look out for each other, etc. On the right side of the paper, write all the potential ways that you could be supported even more by your extended community. You may want to write things like joining a group of entrepreneurs in a field you are interested in, starting a community project to accomplish something that you really care about, or running for a political office.

Transferring Recognition to Gratitude

Now that you have identified both your current and potential areas of support, think about how your life would be different if you recognized and were grateful for all the support that you currently have. How would your life be different if you utilized even more of the support that is available to you?

Sometimes you need to really look for what to be thankful for. For example, it’s easy to be grateful for big events, that big promotion, the love of your life, etc. What about all the little kernels of kindness? These smallest bits of support are sometimes the basis of support – the sum total of which – can be much more than any one-time individual event. By recognizing, and by being grateful for these small kernels of support, you create a perpetual state of gratitude.

The Benefits of Expressing Gratitude

As you recognize all the ways you are currently supported (the items on the left side of your sheet), take time to feel gratitude for all the ways you are encouraged and strengthened. Isn’t it awesome to have so much support? What have you accomplished in your life as a result of all this support? Be sure to offer a nod of thanks for your accomplishments to-date.

What would your life be like if you added all the extra support you have identified on the right side of your sheet? What bigger visions would you feel empowered to pursue? How might you make a bigger impact on the world? These are just a few questions to consider as you begin to open your heart and your mind to exploring gratitude.

A real life sample of how gratitude can change the course of your life: Darrell Knoch created the Gratitude Coin and offers this coin for school teachers to use to teach expressing gratitude to children. His life exemplifies how the power of intention and law of attraction can interplay to create not only a life filled with gratitude, but a life that touches many. Growing up in the ghettos of Chicago, Darrell was the youngest of seven siblings. His father left the family and his young mother was left to raise the seven siblings. Darrell took five companies to national and international levels and raised billions of dollars in revenue over his thirty-five year career. His goal now is to help youngsters to open their hearts and minds to gratitude by sharing gratitude coins with classmates when they are grateful for an action of a classmate. What was the driving factor of his success? Gratitude.

How can you adopt gratitude for the ability to reach out to people that we can have relationships with and community with? Don’t hold yourself back. Ask for what you want. The power of your intention, your dedication and commitment to your intention, will help you realize your dreams. There is all that support out there, available for the asking. Reach for it! And make your dreams come true.

Image – AdobeStock

Gratitude Opens Our Hearts and Our Minds

When we recognize and express gratitude for all that that we have in our lives, we impact our lives in ways that we might not at first recognize. Our experiences are altered by our expectations, which are driven by our thought processes and our level of gratitude.

The Law of Attraction as Related to Gratitude

The law of attraction is based on the idea that we receive the things that we focus on. When we focus on the negative, or on our fears, we act according to those thoughts. When we change our thoughts by focusing on gratitude, we create an environment for reciprocal positivity. The law of attraction allows the same high level of energy associated with gratitude to bring positive opportunities and situations back to you. Here’s a story that you may be familiar with.

An individual is travelling from one village to the next when he comes upon a farmer working in his field. He asks the farmer what the people in the next village are like. The farmer asks “What were the people like in the last village?” The man replies, “They were rude, unfriendly, dishonest people.” The farmer tells the man “You’ll find the people in the next village are the same.”

A second man was travelling between the same two villages and came upon the same farmer. He too stopped to ask what the people in the next village would be like. Again the farmer asked, “What were the people like in the last village?” The second man replied, “They were kind, friendly, generous, great people!” Again the farmer said, “You’ll find the people in the next village are the same.”

The moral of the story is that we’ll experience what we expect. If we live our lives in a way that attracts unfriendliness and negativity, that’s what we’ll find. If however, we live our lives in a way that attracts friendliness and generosity, then that’s what we’ll overwhelmingly find. If we tend to be grateful, we will find much to be grateful for.

So how do you apply this concept to the ‘real’ world? By focusing on what we want out of a situation, rather than reacting to fears of what might happen, we create a positive relationship. Our confidence is boosted, we feel in control, and things come our way with less effort. By staying committed to your goals, you experience the positive benefits of the power of intention and are less likely to be derailed from achieving your goals. In turn, you have more and more to be grateful for.

You create your own universe as you go along.
– Winston Churchill

Gratitude - opening your heart

Opening our Hearts through Gratitude

Oftentimes when people talk about their gratitude, it brings them to tears. Why does this happen? It happens because expressing gratitude opens our hearts. As we shift our focus, our thoughts, from what we want in the future to what we have now, in the present, we experience an internal shift. We move from a place of lack and struggle to one of abundance and peace. We push out the struggles and challenges that we might be experiencing and make room in our hearts to experience the good things that are waiting to come into our life.

Have you ever watched Undercover Boss? The owner or CEO will go undercover under the guise of someone trying to get a second chance at life and will work a day in various functions within their own company. The results are astounding. The owner is often overwhelmed with gratitude for workers who give it their all for the better of the company. As a thank you, the owner or CEO typically thanks the selected workers with gifts and/or opportunities to further better themselves. The circle of gratitude is obvious as both the giver and recipient are in tears… tears of gratitude. But if you think about it, who is the giver and who is the recipient? Both benefit from the other’s gratitude. Both grow from the experience. Both are more compassionate for the other’s position. Both benefit from opening their hearts to the other.

Practice Gratitude

We can practice gratitude anytime, anyplace, as a regular part of our day-to-day lives. But sometimes, setting aside some quiet time helps us to regroup and to refocus on what we have to be grateful for. When expressing gratitude, use the guidelines below to create a practice that works best for you:

For this exercise, you will want to find a quiet place where you will not be interrupted and where you will not have distractions. This might be your bedroom or study if you share a house with others; otherwise, your kitchen table or sofa will do. If you enjoy nature, you may enjoy a quiet place on a trail. You can complete this exercise mentally, but oftentimes you may find it more beneficial if you write in a journal. So let’s get started.

Gratitude - visualize the gifts

Visualize and Describe the Gifts That You Have Received

This is the first step. What is it that you are grateful for? What are the gifts that you currently have and that you have received over the course of your life? Consider not only the things that you have, but also the people, the love and care, the relationships, the experiences, and the opportunities for growth. List the gifts you are grateful for until you’ve exhausted all ideas. Take as much time and space as you need. It often helps to write about your gratitude in a journal, forming the words and sentences that describe what you experience and how you feel.

Pour your Love and Gratitude

Now that you have listed the gifts that you are grateful for, feel the gratitude in your heart. Your heart is the center in your body and is associated with love. By bringing your attention to your heart, feeling the love and gratitude, you’ll feel the warmth expanding within your chest. Now visualize this love and gratitude pouring out of your heart to the people and circumstances that provide the gifts in your life. Visualize a stream of pink liquid flowing from your heart to the heart of the recipients. Note how this makes you feel, to give the gift of gratitude back to those who have given to you.

Receive the Blessings

Gratitude - receive the blessings

Now that you have poured your love and gratitude to those who have given to you, more love and gratitude is returned to you. Feel that stream of pink liquid flowing back into your heart, then permeating throughout your mind, feelings and body. How does it feel to receive the blessings back?

Practicing gratitude opens our hearts and minds. It also helps others to open their hearts and minds. It affords us great things through the law of attraction. You may even want to create a vision board (this can be a physical board or even a Pinterest board) with images of things you are grateful for and for which you hope to achieve. Viewing your board on a regular basis will help you to remember what you have to be grateful for. Can you imagine a world where everyone practices gratitude on a daily basis? The abundance we all would welcome? It’s a tall order, and it starts with you.

Image – ShutterStock