News / Attitude of Gratitude - a 21-Day Experiment
Gratitude becomes deep and profound forgiveness of life, which completes the circle back to become gratitude.
In the middle of a busy day I did a small gratitude practice through the main areas of my life and soon became aware of wave of forgiveness that seemed to arrive, completely unexpected.
It was as if in welcoming my life that is, I could let go of the life that was, the life that might have been and the life that was never going to be, opening the gates to a river of forgiveness now flowing through my awareness.
I feel like the river is washing me clean with a deep and profound forgiveness of life.
And this has brought me full circle, wholly back in to the present moment with a deeper level of welcoming and gratitude for all that I am now – an open, vast field of possibility and joy.
Namaste with love,
- I am appreciating life more.
- I am more willing to take risks.
- I feel like I am really connecting with people, people who are not my family or my students; perhaps even moving forward with people.
- I am learning to receive and in learning how to receive graciously I am becoming more graciously giving.
- And I still haven’t meltedJ.
This may sound like a no-brainer but I am appreciating life more. My life circumstances have not really changed (it has only been three days!), but I feel more positive about my life and its possibilities. My thoughts seem so much more expansive.
My theory is that I am not spending much time limiting myself in the deficit mode so my mind has more time to explore and has more capacity to be spacious.
And as consequence of this exploration and positivity, I have become bolder. I find that I am taking more risks, personally and professionally. I have started to appreciate my wins and I’m not afraid to acknowledge my losses, and I’m even starting to voice my intentions, dreams and frustrations to people other than my nearest and dearest – people who may be able to help me address those frustrations.
I think gratitude has built on love and I am more often speaking my truth. I have decided to work with a coach to refine and embolden my voice. I am making approaches, asking and making phone calls, I think because I am loved, I am grateful and I can take risks.
Conversations have become something I look forward to in a relaxed and easy way. I used to be shy, cautious and feel awkward. And while gratitude cannot lay claim to all of this transformation, the last three days have definitely been different.
Perhaps appreciating my life, I can more honestly be in interested others’ lives and be grateful for their contribution to mine. And people are responding by going out of their way to help me. I feel like I am really connecting with people, people who are not my family or my students; perhaps even moving forward with people. Very cool.
And I am learning how to receive. Today I have received an offer to be coached, compliments about my use of language, offers to work with other people in studios and on retreat and the holiday I am about to have with my partner and daughter. It is like up until the last 24 hours I have only been able to receive or do something if it was going to benefit someone else and now I can receive just for myself and I can do just because I want to do. And do you know what the really weird thing is? In graciously receiving I have become more graciously giving.
I know this all sounds a lot to achieve from just saying thank you for three days but all I’m doing is reporting my experience of my life during this period. It may be more impactful because I have just spent 21 days in an experiment with love which created and still creates a bed of love and acceptance in which gratitude can rest.
I think saying thank you really is very powerful.
I think I am ready to move in to the more systematic approach to gratitude and daily give thanks the different aspects of my life rather than being so random, as I have been.
Oh, and I know it might be boring for you but it was 38°C in Canberra today and I still haven’t melted. My legs took turns in making moves to collapse this afternoon but this is insignificant compared to being a puddle on the sofa. Yay! J
Namaste with love,
- Practicing gratitude seems expand my possibilities and my actuality - today i have said YES to life.
- I have spent NO time thinking about mine or anyone else’s deficits.
- My CNS has not melted in three days of 30+°C heat (J this is probably nothing to do with practicing gratitude but I am very grateful, nonetheless).
All day I have been thinking in terms of possibility. How I can say yes to life? This has kept my mind incredibly open and soft, and my mood incredibly light-hearted. I have achieved far more today than I would have thought was possible on a 37°C day partly because I didn't exclude any possibility. As a consequence, practising gratitude has expanded my possibilities and my actuality - today I have said YES to life!.
Even after all these years of yoga, acceptance and surrender, I have still continued to spend more time than is healthy noticing and sometimes dwelling, on my deficits. Including Deficits in my personal skills and qualities, deficits in experience, career, success, income, friendships, chutzpah and, and, and… comparing myself to an impossible non-existent ideal that always seems to be personified by someone else. And in a strange way which I am sure is linked, the deficits of the organisations, pursuits, careers and pastimes that I have been engaged with.
Well, today I have spent NO time thinking about mine or anyone else’s deficits. Let me repeat that (because actually I can’t believe it), I have not spent one moment thinking about deficits, not one. Cool, huh? Even more exciting, I have been able to recognise this trait in my assessments without judgement. I feel forgiving and forgiven.
And although this may have no causal relationship with practicing gratitude, my CNS has NOT melted on a 37° day. I think this might be the first time in many years where my brain and spinal cord have not erupted in inflammation and my function descended into dysfunction due to heat. And I do feel deeply grateful today, and even weirder – no expectation for tomorrow, just here, just now.
- Practising gratitude doesn't stop my monkey mind from doing somersaults and back-flips when I'm not looking but it does seem hold me in its loving arms and prevent me joining in the frivolity.
- It is early days but it would appear that finding reasons to be grateful for what I have also creates a more solution oriented environment for my mind.
- And for the no-brainer that makes this experiment worth doing all on its own – I am genuinely appreciating the people in my life more and suddenly my world seems a more kind and generous place.
So, since writing the rationale for this experiment yesterday, I have experienced doubt and anxiety about the two areas of my life that are currently nestled deeply in uncertainty – where I am going to live and what I am going to be doing. This has been combined with a realisation that I cannot continue in the same way I have been, which initially evoked the anxiety that was bred from uncertainty.
However, just like when I programmed my mindset for love (and perhaps because I have previously programmed my mindset for love), because yesterday I programmed my mindset for gratitude, I was able to keep the anxiety in perspective and observe the frolicking of my monkey mind instead of descending into fear. It was like my monkey was playing in a playpen and the loving arms of gratitude were holding me back from taking my shoes off and jumping in.
The other thing I have noticed today is that this distance has created a more solution oriented environment in which my mind can operate. So extending the monkey in the playpen metaphor, while watching the frolicking I was able to recognise the reasons the monkey was jumping and allow solutions to arise. What was even more amazing was that I was then able to act on those solutions immediately and/or see the reasons for the jumping with clarity, not fear.
And of course the monkey, exhausted from its efforts and satisfied that its message had been conveyed, lay down and had a nap – no more anxiety.
I am reminded again, of the sage words of Richard Miller from iRest (and many other teachers, including from my own lineage) – emotions are just signposts for stuff that needs to be noticed, so that you can deal with it.
And finally, I am smiling and thanking everyone. I am not apologising, I am thanking and not just with my words but with my heart. I am genuinely appreciating the people I encounter and suddenly my world seems a more kind and more generous place. I am wondering if looking for reasons to be grateful in my own life extends into looking for reasons to be grateful for the people I encounter.
Results at the end of Day-1? I have a lot for which to be grateful.
Join me on my 21-day experiment to road-test a felt experience of gratitude.
Gratitude has been attributed with some pretty powerful guns in the world of personal and professional transformation, and once again I find myself curious about the veracity of these claims. Is it really the magic bullet of happiness?
The underlying philosophy of Gratitude’s power is that when we focus on our lack, that’s what we notice and hence that’s what we attract, consequently we are always left wanting which leads to consuming more to fill up the perceived deficit. Conversely, when we feel grateful for what we have our focus becomes one of abundance and that’s what we attract, and because we are already abundant we consume less because there is no deficit.
So, that’s the theory but does it really work? Can practicing gratitude really reduce our consumption of stuff, food, spirituality and religion, and relationships? Can gratitude increase our contentment with our life? Perhaps even with ourselves? Can it really attract success? And if gratitude is a powerful tool for happiness, can it be learnt and practiced.
These are the sorts of questions I started to ask when I finished my experiment with love. I felt incredibly grateful for the lessons I had learnt and the practice I had established, while becoming acutely aware of the times I didn’t respond with love and I the times I didn’t feel content. Simultaneously I started to see “gratitude” everywhere. I couldn’t open my Facebook feed without one modern day guru or another blogging the importance of gratitude, my own yoga tradition sprewking gratitude and a recurring memory of an NLP teacher selling fridge magnets that said “attitude of gratitude”.
It was Christmas – a time of the year when consumerism and gluttony spreads their wings and go wild in a duet of massive proportions. At the same time I was preparing the second edition of my book for publishing as an eBook.
21-Days of Love had created an incredible level of resilience and tolerance to the vagaries of life and Christmas, and my usual Christmas depression was surprisingly somnolent. A good time to put the book out into the world again. A fevered weekend before Christmas with my partner putting the final pieces together and finally pressing “Publish” late on Sunday afternoon. Waves of relief, gratitude, happiness, jubilation and more than slight disbelief flowed with the bubbles of a bottle of Moet we had been saving for a special occasion.
What followed was an even more fevered three days of Facebooking, emailing and texting everyone I knew, had ever known, might one day know or have not yet heard of to invite them to download a free copy of my eBook to register it as a thing on Amazon. Initially it was so exciting and fun, as I started to watch the figures rise and moved to the top of my free categories in the US, UK and Australia.
And then it shifted. All the focus on figures and subscription rates etc. changed my attitude from a game to comparison, competition and stress and anxiety. Abundance and celebration became lack, and I began to think about the people who didn’t download or unsubscribed to my newsletter.
Fortunately I had my 21-Days of Love behind me and I noticed the difference. Fortunately I looked around my life and ‘saw’ it all again, with the sensation of love.
I made a decision to stop watching the figures, stop sending emails and texts and Facebook posts, and feel thankful for each copy downloaded and each message of encouragement.
Do you know what happened? My mind instantly relaxed, it felt like a physical opening in the cortex of my brain – literally. My breathing slowed and deepened, a smile slowly spread across my face and I enjoyed a beautiful Christmas with my family, once again feeling grateful for the abundance of love in my life.
Since then I have ‘played’ with gratitude and noticed that even random acts of gratitude have an impact on my life. So, let’s have a more rigorous test of the power of an Attitude of Gratitude.
Stage 1 Daily Random Acts of Gratitude.
- Get comfortable in your favourite place (you might like to light a candle but this is optional).
- Do some movement to open your chest (even rolling your shoulders is enough, first one at a time, then both together, slowly and mindfully).
- Take a few moments to become aware of your breath, allow the breath in and allow it to leave.
- Invite the out breath to lengthen.
- So, what does gratitude feel like? Take a moment to remember something for which you already feel gratitude then let the sensation of gratitude flow through your mind and body.
- When you are ready, create the intention to feel gratitude for at least one thing in your day.
- Allow the events of your day to play across the screen of your mind with this intention of gratitude in your awareness. Remember that is what you here for, not mulling over particular events or interactions, you are here to find something to thank.
- If you have had a particularly stressful day or you are dealing with difficult life circumstances it might initially be difficult to find something but stick with the intention and something will arise, even if it is as mundane as having clothes on your body.
- You may find you start a flood of gratitude or you may find that a drop is all you can manage – whatever you manage is enough.
- Gratitude practice is great to do every night before going to bed because it puts your mind into a more positive space before sleep and is very relaxing, even after a stressful day.
Stage 2 Attitude of Gratitude practice.
Another gratitude practice that I have yet to road-test consistently is to appreciate what is working in the different aspects of my life, so once I have established my Daily Random Acts of Gratitude practice, I will start a more systematic approach to gratitude. I will find something in every aspect of my life that is working.
- Gratitude for existing – each day I continue to breathe brings more opportunity live and love (“I breathe in and feel life, I breathe out and feel grateful”).
- Gratitude for the food I have eaten today – even if it wasn’t the healthiest or the most delicious or even not enough, it was food that sustained me through the day.
- Gratitude for your shelter – whatever shelter I have is still shelter.
- Gratitude for my friends and family – every interaction with another person is an opportunity for me to feel connection.
- Gratitude for my financials – this is a tricky one for me and I will focus on gratitude for the tasks that are compensated for with money and every cent that comes through my hands.
- Gratitude for my jobs – I feel grateful that each job I do is an opportunity to express my purpose and contribute to my financials.
- Gratitude for my purpose – this is another tricky one for me because sometimes my ego feels a little embarrassed by my purpose and sometimes hide from it, so I will practice feeling grateful for my purpose.
- Gratitude for the resources to fulfil my purpose – again tricky because I have a background of scarcity so I will consciously look for the moments I have expressed my purpose in my day and let flow the golden bubbles of gratitude (which me luck here, folks).
- Gratitude for success – the hardest one of all for me as biggest cloud over my parade is the belief in my own failure, so I will root through each day and find my successes! (I will, I promise).
Once again I will carry out my practice every day for 21 days, an attempt to embed the habit of a felt experience of gratitude.
Following on from the personal success of writing everyday during my 21 Days of Love, I am committing to writing every day and publishing on my website, then sharing on Facebook.
Today is Day 1, I will write tomorrow.
Thank you with love,