By Ellen Rich, Holistic Life Coach and Founder
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”
~ Melody Beattie
#1. Gratitude is something many of us don’t really understand
When I first ran across the concept of gratitude, it wasn’t clear to me. Did it mean saying thank-you, was it a religious notion or did it connote paying it forward? Is there something special about gratitude; is being grateful synonymous to being a good person or is it something we feel only when pressed? It seemed obtuse and I never was able to use it as a word or feel it within my body.
As I think back over my life, one situation where I felt gratitude in my heart and throughout my body was after my mother passed away. We had become very close in the years I was her caregiver. Our sharing as mother and daughter shifted, as we became close friends and changed roles.
Devastated at her passing, I wailed and cried. After the 2- year mark passed, I started remembering things that she had done for me my entire life. She birthed me, protected me, encouraged me, and stood by me in several grueling situations. I now carry her in my heart and she is with me 24/7- always there to give me guidance. This is how I define gratitude.
#2. An unclear focus can be shifted with gratitude
We all experience uncomfortable to extremely painful situations. Just the other day I had someone get upset with me because I hit the wrong emoji button (thumbs down) in a text message and couldn’t correct it. Feedback from others told me this was devastating for this person. I had no idea and said I was sorry. Too late, the damage was done.
I was miffed and got progressively upset as I thought about what had happened. There was really nothing I could do. And that was my “ticket” to gratitude. Several feelings arose that I could feel in my heart including my need to be liked and that maybe there was a better way to spend my time. As I sat with this, I began to feel gratitude and my anger dissipated. I was grateful as now I had time to do another project that meant more to me.
#3. Gratitude can impact the quality of your life
The impact can include emotions, physical condition and aging, support systems, and mental capabilities. There may be parts you have denied or hidden away. To be a complete person with the best quality of life, total integration of your being will help during the rough patches.
Gratitude is more than material wealth or the perfect body. These will not improve the quality of your life. Gratitude is something that shifts your entire life. Sometimes because you have selflessly helped someone and received incomparable joy, you begin to recognize gratitude in your life.
We listen to the people on TV that have weathered the hurricanes and property devastation this year. They say that by helping another they feel better and are very grateful despite their personal problems. It’s the only thing they can possibly do. They see no other choice.
Recently, there was a massive killing of 58 (as of this writing) by one gunman. Over 500 were injured. With no one in charge, everyone was on their own. But something magical happens within disasters. People put their lives aside to aid victims, cover bodies to save someone else and take a bullet and run right into fire to give people time to escape. All involved seemed grateful for helping a fellow human being.
#4. Gratitude can improve your happiness factor
“Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons from the University of California, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough from the University of Miami, have committed much of their research careers to studying the effects of gratitude.
“In one such study, the researchers asked a group of people to write a few sentences every week about a particular topic. One group was instructed to write about things that didn’t make them happy. Another was instructed to write about things that they were grateful for. And the control group was instructed to write about things that had occurred but with no focus towards being positive or negative.
The results? The group that was instructed to write about things that they were grateful for was far happier and optimistic about their lives than the group that had focused on things that had occurred in a negative light. When we’re grateful for things, it’s a natural occurrence to be happier about life. You realize the things you have rather than the things you don’t.”
#5. How gratitude can lighten or reduce your inner most fears
We all have fears, but often we live with or suppress them until they “pop out” again. Fear comes at us when we feel out of control. We dwell on the past and get depressed or project into the future and feel anxious. Most people don’t fix these feelings. The mother who picks the car up for a trapped child, the underage girl who pursues her rapist, and the gang banger who leaves his street tribe; love or fear, is their motivation and this can result in gratitude.
#6. Faith? Religion? Spirituality?
According to several online sources (Google search) there are around 4,500 religions in the world. This does not include the off shoots or others that aren’t mainstream. With time and changing needs this number varies.
Everyone on the planet has a slightly different definition of their faith, religion, spirituality or none. Can nothing have a defination in the grand scheme of things gratitude can transform your life by linking you to something greater than to yourself (ego).
“We’re born alone, we live alone, and we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.”
Thank you for reading,
After working in the corporate world for 30+ years, Ellen started a Holistic Life Coaching program. Called act2.expert (www.act2.expert), it is a Holistic Life Coaching Program that allows the client drive the process in a safe and comfortable environment. Ellen has a BA, MBA, many certificates and has attended Wisdom of the Whole Coaching Academy.