Let’s face it, life isn’t always easy. We may have it all but still run into hurdles. However, we don’t want these hurdles to turn into obstacles so how can we overcome them when they appear in our lives? Believe it or not, sometimes the best way to get over a hurdle is to focus on gratitude. Now how can this be? It’s because gratitude creates a shift in your energy and wellbeing. When you have more positive energy and you are happier, it is easier to find solutions to the difficulties in life. And when you find solutions, you can take action and do something about the thing that is causing you havoc. Once you implement your strategy, those hurdles either decrease significantly or disappear in their entirety.
But can gratitude really change things? Maybe, maybe not. But what gratitude does change is you. According to Cornerstone Coaching and Training, gratitude does the following:
- Gratitude improves physical health – grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report that they feel healthier overall than other people, (Personality and Individual Differences, 2012).
- Gratitude improves psychological heath – practicing gratitude reduces the amount of negative emotions we experience including anger, envy, resentment, regret, and even depression (multiple studies by Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D.)
- Gratitude helps you sleep better and longer – (study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 2012)
- Gratitude improves your self-esteem and helps you perform better – (study published in Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 2014)
When you feel better about yourself, when you are rested, when your emotions are in check and when your body and brain feel good, then you have the tools to help you through the curve balls that life throws at you.
So how does one harness the greatness of gratitude?
There are several ways to do so. I started consciously focusing on gratitude back in 2011. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a grateful person but I didn’t put much time or effort into gratitude. It wasn’t until I started practicing yoga and eating a plant-based diet, that gratitude became something that I actively worked on. I didn’t do anything formal but I made it a habit to thank as many things and people I could- even if they weren’t in front of me. So, when I would get ready for work, I would start my thanking routine. I would say in my head, thank you for this warm shower and thank you for the convenience of running water. As I put on my clothes, I would say thank you for all of the clothing choices I have and thank you for the protection they provide. As I left the house, I would thank my house for the warmth and protection it gave me, I would thank the yard for the growing flowers and plants, and I would thank my car for the transportation it provided. I would continue this process throughout the day, at work I would thank my desk, computer and chair, and I would mentally thank my co-workers (and if appropriate, I would also thank them verbally or in electronic communication.) The more I practiced this, the better my life became. Work became super easy and my house seemed to stay tidier. Was it magic? Probably not, but my attitude gave me lots of energy and I was able to accomplish tasks swiftly and efficiently. I carried this practice into my nightly yoga classes and during Shavasana (the process at the end of the class where you lie down and meditate,) I would visualize all of the people who were important to me and thank them in my head. My relationships improved tremendously during this time period.
So that was back in 2011. Did I keep this practice up? I wish I could say yes. I did keep it up for over a year and then I was promoted to a very stressful new position and I had moved to a new state to take the job. I let the stress and the pressure take over and I stopped focusing on gratitude for a while. Then, about a year after the struggle, I was visiting my son and his wife and my son, who is one of the most gentle souls I know, pointed out that I had changed. I wasn’t the positive person I was before because I was focusing on the “hurdles” and not on the gratitude. I picked back up with my focus on gratitude and in six months, I got my dream job back in Florida, I met the love of my life and those hurdles of the prior job dissipated.
Since then, I have had quite a few hurdles thrown at me. Some I handled better than others. But when I look back, it seems like the times I was more focused on gratitude, those hurdles resolved quicker and easier than the times when I wasn’t focused on gratitude.
To learn more about incorporating Gratitude into your life, you can check out these resources:
The Magic by Rhonda Bryne (If you really need a huge shift in your life, this book will supercharge your Gratitude experience.)
Written By Theresa Touhey. Theresa is the owner of Nature Reflections Jewelry.