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Stress Solving Secret #4: Cultivate a Gratitude Attitude

This is part five of an eight-part article.

count-blessingsPart of the process of shifting our attention from the negative to the positive is to recognize what we already have that is good.  Remember the exercise Echkart Tolle recommends when he says to ask, “What in this moment is lacking?”  Well, a poweful extension of that exercise is to look around and ask, “What do I have to be grateful for?”

I use this technique a lot. When I'm feeling down or discouraged, I often look around and start finding all the good things in my life and start saying, “Thank you, God” for everything in my life that I have or that's going right.  Most of the time we have a lot more to be grateful for than we have to be worried about.  My attitude starts improving right away.

Here's what I think about when economic difficulties come.  In the worst times of my life, I've still had central heating, hot and cold running water and a roof over my head.  How many millions of people in the world don't have these things?  I've never had to go to bed hungry, except by choice when I've been fasting. Half of the world goes to bed hungry.  I live in a land of relative freedom. How many countries live under cruel dictatorships?   And, I can go on and on. The truth is that most “poor” Americans are far better off than half of the people living in the world today.

Marketing has convinced most Americans that the only way to be happy is to have more “stuff.”  But, if that was true, then Americans would be the happiest people on earth.  We are not. We have some of the highest rates of depression on the planet.  Many people with a tenth of what we enjoy are actually happier than we are.

Yes, we have troubles in our life. People lose jobs, and homes and loved ones every day. There are natural disasters, wars, illnesses and injustices. But, if you focus on these bad things that will magnify the problems in your life. What you focus on magnifies. This is one reason I rarely watch the news or read the paper.  Most of the news is focused on reporting on the problems in the world.  This focus keeps people living in fear, worry and stress, feeling like they are powerless in their lives.  It's a great plus for politicians, marketers and other people who love to have control over people.

You can get out of this mindset rapidly by looking around and focusing on what is good in the world.  More people have jobs and homes than don't in this country.  Even during the Great Depression 70% of the nation WAS employed.  People became millionaires during the depression.

Focus on what is good in your life and in the world and you'll magnify the good.  And, the fastest way to do this is to be grateful for what you have. In fact, gratitude is the great multiplier. When we express gratitude, even for what little we have, what we have is multiplied. The more gratitude we express, the greater our blessings and the greater our joy.

Be Grateful for Everything

grateful-in-all-things.jpgNow, let me tell you the most powerful part of this secret.  It's not easy to put into practice, but it really works.  Be thankful for your problems, too.  I learned this secret from a little book called Sons of God by Christine Mercie.  I came to understand that if we could see our problems from God's perspective, we would get down on our knees and thank Him for everything we had been priviledged to suffer.

I started trying to do this. It wasn't easy at first, but I did it.  I would say, “Thank you God for this problem (or difficulty).  Please help me to learn the lessons you want me to learn from this challenge in my life.”

Something miraculous happens when you do this.  It's beyond focusing on the good things in our life and being grateful for them.  It's a change in perspective that helps you start seeing everything that happens in your life as a good thing, at least in the idea that it is good for you because it contains the seeds of your growth and development.

The oldest plants on the planet are the Bristlecone pines, and if you've ever seen where they grow, they grow where life is tough—soil is lacking, water is scarce, temperatures are extreme and winds are severe.  We may not like the idea, but our problems and trials actually contain the seeds of experience that can make us great if we see them in the correct way, and nothing changes them from negatives into positives faster than learning to be grateful for them.

When I start thinking along these lines it puts my own problems into perspective.  I start seeing that things aren't as bad as I'm making them out to be.  Besides, as I focus on what I have to be grateful for, instead of what I'm lacking, I'm also generating a positive energy that allows me to have more abundance in my life.  By focusing on how blessed I am, I find that I truly wind up being blessed.

Next: Stress Solving Secret #5: Nourish Your Nerves