December 29, 2008
The Fine Art of Gratitude
by Gary Ryan Blair
Think for just a moment of all the things that require practice: grammar, arithmetic, cooking, and even the guitar. Practice is probably something you think you’re done with when you leave school or give up music lessons. But, have you ever thought of practicing the fine art of gratitude?
The simplicity of gratitude and the powerful effect it has on our lives is unequaled by any other practice of its kind. There is a special kind of magic in gratitude for it raises our consciousness, recharges our energy, enhances our self-worth, and strengthens our spirit. Gratitude counts.
It’s quite possible to attain great wealth, the best education, and an exceptional quality of life and still be unhappy. This occurs when people live with an absence of gratitude. Success is a process that includes both peaks and valleys, but the one constant in a truly successful life is gratitude.
A successful life requires ongoing growth, and gratitude ensures growth. Gratitude heightens awareness and expands your interaction with the world. Once gratitude becomes part of your nature you begin to see the connections between your success and creature comforts, and the talents and contributions of others.
The farmer plants, waters, fertilizes and harvests the tomatoes you enjoy.The truck driver delivers the food to the market that will soon feed your family.The baker kneads and bakes the bread for the sandwich you’ll eat for lunch.The engineer and architect design the bridge that allows you to get to work.The furniture maker’s handiwork creates the furniture in your living room.The plumber fixes your leak, clears your drain and plunges your toilet.The teacher educates and inspires your children to be the best they can be.The customer provides the support that enables everyone to receive wages.The performer engages the imagination and entertains your senses.The seamstress sews the beautiful clothes that make you look great.The physician and nurse help to bring your beautiful baby into the world.
Pause for a moment and begin to think of the connections between people and you will immediately understand how important a role gratitude plays in the creation of a happy, productive life. We live in a world where we have much to be grateful for if we would just stop and look around.
It’s quite humbling to think of all the roles that complete strangers play in our daily existence. The sheer ingenuity and effort required of others is one of the most compelling reasons why we must make gratitude a daily practice. Humility is a virtue integral to gratitude. We cannot recognize the need for gratitude without it.
You may be tempted to believe that success and happiness is the result of karma, fate, design, destiny or pure luck but gratitude offers the best guarantee of success. As you practice the fine art of gratitude you automatically enhance your peace of mind and overall quality of life.
Finding something good in each and every day harnesses the power of gratitude. Do you light a candle or curse the darkness? Do you bless each and everything that comes your way, trusting that its meaning will become clear—even if you can’t possibly see how in the moment?
One of the best ways to cultivate gratefulness is to count your blessings by thinking of all the good in your life as well acknowledging the contributions of others. This is important for three reasons:
Positioning. By focusing on the positive things in each and every day, you position gratitude so that it has top of mind awareness.
Perspective. By looking for goodness and nobility in yourself and others, you are reminded that there are lots of good people with good intentions in the world.
Power. By being appreciative for challenging lessons and adverse situations you are demonstrating grace under fire. That grace results in greater personal power, self-confidence, momentum, and energy.
Practicing the fine art of gratitude is not only among our most important positive emotions, but one that links directly to physical and mental well-being. It’s in our self-interest to feel gratitude because it makes us better people. When we consciously practice grateful living, happiness follows along with an ability to withstand negative events. An attitude of gratitude provides immunity to anger, envy, resentment, and depression.
While forgiveness heals the heart of old hurts, gratitude opens it to present love. Gratitude bestows many benefits. It dissolves negative feelings: anger and jealousy melt in its embrace, fear and defensiveness shrink. Gratitude deflates the barriers to love.
Gratitude also evokes happiness, which is itself a powerfully healing and beneficial emotion. When we are happy, we like to make others happy, and this fosters kindness and generosity.
Like other attitudes, gratitude can be cultivated. We don’t have to wait for someone to shower us with gifts before feeling thankful. We can develop gratitude by reflecting on the gifts that are already ours. This reflection can be done for a minute, a day, or throughout a lifetime.
Most people celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and holidays, but those who cultivate gratitude celebrate and rejoice every day. We can be grateful because we are happy, but we can also be happy because we are grateful.
We tend to forget how very different the laws that govern the mind are from the laws that operate in the physical world. In the physical world, if we give something thing to another person, whether it be a toy, a book, or a diamond, we lose possession.
Yet in the mind, the opposite is true. Whatever we intend for another person we first experience ourselves, whatever we give we gain, whatever we offer flowers in our own mind. If you feel hatred toward someone, that hate boomerangs back and scorches your own mind.
On the other hand, if you offer love and gratitude to someone, that love and gratitude first fills and heals your mind. The words “As you give so shall you receive” are profound statements about the way our minds work.
Enjoy every moment with gratitude and the next time you are eating fruit, remember to gives thanks to the person who planted the tree. That’s making gratitude count!
Gary Ryan Blair is a highly regarded speaker, consultant, strategic planner, and coach to leading companies throughout the globe. He helps business owners, corporate executives and sales professionals manage their time, set their priorities, and stay focused so that they can achieve their goals, grow their business, and sustain a lasting competitive advantage.
He’s also offering advanced coaching on setting your personal goals — and getting the results, find out how to make your personal strategic plan.
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