Take Time to Be Grateful

How many times do we march through life without noticing all the blessings that surround us? Sometimes we go days and weeks without thinking, even for a moment, about all the wonderful, amazing parts of our lives. On the other hand, we certainly seem to have no problem noticing all of the problems and disappointments that surround us. And we remember each and every one of these problems in excruciating detail.

Our problems are rarely overlooked or forgotten. But, noticing all of the beautiful and wonderful parts of our lives is something that we tend to forget. How interesting. We are livid about the long line at the grocery store.

We rant and rave that we can't find a parking place. And those stupid drivers that pull out right in front of us.the blood begins to boil just thinking about it! Sometimes it seems like we're cursed. And complaining is the only thing to do.

In fact, there's probably nothing that we do better. But, what about all the blessings in our lives? Why don't we ever take the time to truly notice all of the small joys in our day? We have gotten into bad habits. We have conditioned our minds to notice all the problems that we face. And we have conditioned our minds to simply take for granted the blessings and small satisfactions in our lives.

And like most habits, this one can be broken. There are concrete ways to bring more gratitude into your life. And even better, as you bring more gratitude into your life, you will notice that there are indeed countless blessings all around you.

There was an amazing study conducted by Emmons and McCollough on gratitude. They essentially proved that gratitude can be learned. They had a control group write down simple things that they were grateful for every single day for three weeks. The results were astounding! Of course everyone in the study felt a deeper sense of gratefulness for all that was in their lives. But, there were so many other, wonderful side effects from this experiment.

Each person in the study noticed an increase in the following areas of their life: - Optimism - Achievement of goals - Alertness - Enthusiasm - Contentment - Better sleep Each person in the study noticed a decrease in these following areas of their life: - Sadness - Anger - Bitterness - Jealousy - Lethargy - Boredom This study made two important discoveries. First of all, the whole area of gratitude can be learned. It is not just something that you are born with. It is not just something that you either have or you don't. You can easily learn to add gratitude to your life. Another important discovery is that gratitude produces so many additional positive results in your life.

The effects of adding a grateful attitude to your life will multiply your happiness tenfold! Most importantly, gratitude will change your outlook on life. Instead of focusing on the negative parts of your life, you will begin to retrain your mind. Dwelling on gratitude will begin to literally reverse your thinking. Instead of simply noticing the rude driver that cut you off, you will focus on the beautiful, sunny day. And instead of fuming that there isn't a close parking place, you will enjoy a brisk walk into the store. And you may even exchange a friendly "hello" with someone on your way.

The point is that you will soon feel the benefits of noticing all of the beauty that is constantly a part of your life when gratitude is embedded in your thinking. Of course, at first you will have to remind yourself constantly to focus on the positives. But, after a while, it will become second nature.

The easiest and most powerful way to add a sense of gratitude to your life is to invest in a journal. (You can buy your own, or simply use a spiral notebook.) You will develop the habit of using 5 minutes every evening to reflect on your blessings. As I said before, this may not come easy at first.

When you start mentally reviewing your day you may instinctively focus on the negative parts. You may only remember the spilled cup of coffee, the fight with your son and the traffic jam on the way home from work. But think! Think deeper. There were small blessings in your day. No question about it.

If you look at the last page of this course, you will notice that I have compiled a list of things that I am grateful for from my own gratitude journal. You will notice that most of my items are small pleasures. I often feel grateful for the quick kiss from my daughter when she leaves for school. After three weeks of consciously noticing the blessings that surround you, your life will change. You will not look at the world the same anymore. You will suddenly begin to focus on the small parts of your life that you appreciate.

You will smile more. You will have a lighter heart. It's an amazing process that you must try for yourself. You will not believe the transformation in your life. Gratitude is not something that just magically appears into our lives.

It is something that needs to be practiced a bit each day. Only then will gratitude begin to appear in our hearts. About 10 years ago, my mom bought me a journal for my birthday.

When I opened it up, it was a gratitude journal that had 5 lines for every day of the year. I was supposed to write 5 things that I was grateful for every day. I had not yet read research on the power of a grateful heart, but I was willing to give it a try. Like most people I plowed through my life without much concern for all the constant blessings that surrounded me. But, I didn't seem to have much of a problem noticing all of the rough edges in my life.

I noticed the pile of bills that needed to be paid, the car that needed to get into the shop, and the laundry that never seemed to get done. There was never a lack of problems for me to focus on. Now, don't get me wrong, there were times that I was grateful: the birth of my children, a wonderful new job, a special night with a friend.but, these experiences were far and few between. They only happened every few months.

So aside from my special events, I really took little notice of the other blessings in my life. I remember the first time that I sat down to write in my gratitude journal. I sat and sat and tried to think of some big event that had happened to me that day.

Nothing came to mind. Then I started worrying that I couldn't think of anything to write down. I couldn't even think of one thing. How was I going to think of five? So, I actually put it away for a few days.

Meanwhile, I would occasionally think about that journal. I would think about what I could possibly write down. The next time that I took it out I wrote down five things: my children, my husband, my parents, my sisters and my friends. Good for me! The next day, I wrote down the same five things.

Obviously, there was a shortage in my creative thinking at the moment. I thought to myself that this seemed kind of pointless to just write the same thing every day. But, what else was I grateful for? And then it clicked.

I suddenly remembered the feeling that I had that same morning as I sat down on my living room couch with a good book and a cup of coffee. I was grateful for those fifteen minutes of reading and coffee. And suddenly, so much began to flood into my mind. I was grateful for the ten minutes that I cuddled with my dog. I was grateful for the sunny day. I was grateful as I looked at my beautiful garden.

After a few days, writing down my five areas of gratitude became second nature. And yes, after a few weeks, my life did change. Instead of rushing through life without notice, I began to actually see all of the beauty around me. Sure, I was still annoyed by my pile of bills, the broken car, and the unending laundry. But, I began to notice the small blessings. I noticed how much abundance was really in my life.

And I developed a grateful heart. Your life will also change as you put aside your problems and focus on your blessings.

Jessica Swanson is an extremely successful entrepreneur , marketer and life coach who has achieved a high six-figure income. She has mentored hundreds of others on how to achieve the same results. You can visit her at

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