Writing a list of the good things in your life can help you to establish an attitude of gratitude.
Many people seeking to improve their situation through using the power of positive thought find it difficult to cultivate feelings of gratitude. This is not because they are actively ungrateful or even careless of the reasons they have to feel gratitude. These are just ordinary people who have never before tried to develop an attitude of gratitude and they find it hard to get started.
Many people have come across the phrase “attitude of gratitude” for the first time through its use in the best-selling book and video, The Secret. For a lot of the people who watch the DVD or read the book this will be their first encounter with the idea that positive thinking can change lives. When they decide to try to employ the techniques described in books such as The Secret, they find developing an attitude of gratitude very difficult.
To understand why this should be true, you only need to look at the reasons people have for trying to use the techniques. The one thing all these people have in common is that they want something. This is true whether they desire success in business, happiness in their personal relationships, a cure for illness, wealth, improved strength or any of the myriad material and metaphysical goals humanity can devise. They want something, they are not satisfied with their lives as they are at this time.
Many people taking the first step towards living in an attitude of gratitude, cannot see what reason they have to be grateful. Their thoughts keep returning to the things they want to change. They cannot find the way to shift their focus away from the cause of their feelings of dissatisfaction. For these people to truly acquire an attitude of gratitude, they need to understand that dissatisfaction and gratitude are not mutually exclusive. It is a question of focus. Focusing on the pleasing things in your life is positive. Thinking about the reasons to be dissatisfied with your current circumstances is negative.
Most of the people struggling to develop an attitude of gratitude, aren’t beset by serious problems or deep suffering. They are ordinary folk who want to achieve their full potential. The difficulty they have is in shifting their focus away from thoughts of what they are wishing to achieve and onto the abundance they already have in their lives. They do not realise that they can counteract a negative thought with a positive one and they do not understand how simple that is to do.
It is natural that thoughts of present difficulties will recur. You cannot prevent negative thoughts from popping into your head. The key to achieving true feelings of gratitude and well-being is to use positive ideas to overwhelm these negative thoughts. This is achieved by actively thinking of a positive thing every time a negative thought occurs. This is what many people fail to grasp. They think they have to prevent themselves from having negative thoughts and, when they fail to achieve this, they give up.
When starting the exercise of feeling gratitude, it is a good idea to write down a list of reasons to be grateful. This list need not be very long and it can include anything you like. For example, you could start with the fact that you are in good health, that your family is well, that you have a good relationship with your partner, that you have a place to live, that you have nourishing food to eat. It is your list so include anything that will work for you, no matter how trivial it might seem. If you feel blessed to have that warm winter coat in your favorite color, include that. Keep copies of your list where you will be able to read it to remind yourself of the reasons you have to feel gratitude any time negative thoughts try to overtake you.
If you find yourself thinking a negative thought eg “I hate the fact that I have to go out in the freezing cold to get the groceries”, counteract that negativity by thinking “I will enjoy the trip to the store because I have my lovely coat to keep me warm”. No matter if the little niggling negative thought seems trivial, make sure to counteract it with a positive thought. After a little practise, this will become almost as natural as breathing. You won’t be able to allow a negative thought to exist without burying it under a positive thought.