CHANGE YOUR THOUGHTS, CHANGE YOUR LIFE!
ONE OF MY FAVE HEALTHY HABITS - AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE
After 20 years in the business of helping people feel and look their best, I’ve distilled my healthy living recommendations down to eight essential things, that if done most of the time (meaning 80%), lead to a healthy, happy, energized, peaceful mind and body and can allow you to avoid the effects of life’s stresses and avoid most if not all disease and stave off common issues associated with aging.
Next week I’ll be speaking about five of my eight fave healthy habits at my friend’s Joe Cross’ Reboot Camp. The prep for my talk entitled “ Setting Yourself Up For Success - Simple tips for establishing routine of healthy habits” prompted me to do a series of blogs on all eight of these healthy habits starting with what I consider to be the most essential of the eight, GRATITUDE.
What if I told you that by being more grateful you could feel happier, be more alert and energetic, have more determination, optimism, less depression and stress, be more likely to exercise regularly and make greater progress toward achieving personal goals and improving your romantic and other relationships? Cool, huh?
"Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues but the parent of all others." -Cicero
WHAT IS GRATITUDE
Gratitude is a feeling, an emotion and an attitude. It means thankfulness, counting your blessings, finding simple pleasure in the seemingly mundane daily occurrences and an acknowledgement of a benefit you’ve received or will receive. It means treating even small wins as miracles, and being aware on a continuous basis of how fortunate you are. We are what we think and what we think we're not....
Gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present. It makes you feel better instantly among many other benefits and research shows it heightens the quality of your life.
THE BENEFITS OF GRATITUDE
GRATITUDE INCREASES QUALITY OF LIFE
Two psychologists, Michael McCollough of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis, wrote an article about an experiment they conducted on gratitude and its impact on well-being.
The study split several hundred people into three different groups and all of the participants were asked to keep daily diaries.
The first group kept a diary of the events that occurred during the day without being told specifically to write about either good or bad things.
The second group was told to record their unpleasant experiences; and the last group was instructed to make a daily list of things for which they were grateful.
The results of the study indicated that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of :
More on gratitude and associate with well-being from Wikipedia: A large body of recent work has suggested that people who are more grateful have higher levels of subjective well-being.
Grateful people are happier, less depressed, less stressed, and more satisfied with their lives and social relationships Specifically, in terms of depression, gratitude may serve as a buffer by enhancing the coding and retrieve of positive experiences.  Grateful people also have higher levels of control of their environments, personal growth, purpose in life, and self acceptance.
Grateful people have more positive ways of coping with the difficulties they experience in life, being more likely to seek support from other people, reinterpret and grow from the experience, and spend more time planning how to deal with the problem.
Grateful people sleep better, and this seems to be because they think less negative and more positive thoughts just before going to sleep.
Gratitude has been said[by whom?] to have one of the strongest links with mental health of any character trait. 
GRATITUDE CAN BOOST A ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIP
While being grateful is good for you, being on the receiving end of it can juice your romantic relationships! A recent study found that after receiving gratitude, participants noticed that their partner was more responsive to their needs;) and overall more satisfied with their relationship.
I learned from a very smart relationship's therapist that successful relationships tend to have a 20/1 ratio of positive to negative things said to one another and a 5/1 ratio of positive interactions to negative ones that predicts whether a marriage will last or become one of the sad statistics of divorce.
GRATITUDE AS A MOTIVATOR OF BEHAVIOR
Gratitude may also serve to reinforce future pro-social behavior in benefactors. For example, one experiment found that customers of a jewelry store who were called and thanked showed a subsequent 70% increase in purchases. In comparison, customers who were thanked and told about a sale showed only a 30% increase in purchases, and customers who were not called at all did not show an increase. In another study, regular patrons of a restaurant gave bigger tips when servers wrote "Thank you" on their checks.
TIPS ON HOW YOU CAN CULTIVATE AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE
The brain can only hold one thought at a time. When we’re busy noticing what’s right we can’t be worrying or thinking about what’s wrong; we’re in the present as opposed to the past and future.
I think the the best way of cultivating an attitude of gratitude and the one I practice myself is to start as soon as I wake up in the morning, just as I'm cracking my eyes open, I start to list those things for which I am grateful. And try not to stop until I get to my kitchen where I turn on my water on to boil. Some days it’s hard, especially when I’m tired or I didn’t complete the things I wanted to complete the night before. The monkey mind jumps around and says, things like, you shoulda gone to sleep earlier , then you woulda been able to do your TM first thing in the morning and you....coulda. And on and on. By the way, let’s take those words, shuda, wuda, coulda right out of our dictionary today, ok? They’re all about the past.
“Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.” -Brian Tracy
1. Practice at least 1x a day, pref at the same time every day. Think it.
Like most new, healthy habits, it’s best to practice at the same time every day. Research suggests it takes anywhere from 30-60 consecutive days of repeating the desired behavior for it to become a habit. So it's best to start first thing in the morning before your mind gets over active. Say something to yourself like “Thanks Universe for this cozy bed I don’t want to get out of, the roof over my head, for my body that's getting healthier day by day. Thank you for my clients...Whatever you can think of works. List at least three things and if you can, keep going. You will see that your active monkey mind will get quiet.
2. Repeat. Write it down.
The more you repeat something the more likely it is to become a habit. This is true of unhealthy habits as well. The easier a habit is to do, the harder it is to break. Keep a gratitude journal, a spiral notebook or something more special and in it every morning once out of bed or asap, write down at least three things for which you’re grateful. Writing something is just another way of reinforcing the ideas and the energy you get from them. And you can keep a running list and look back on it. My Dad gave me my first Gratitude Journal when I was 18. I still have it. I love looking back on my lists from a few years ago, they always make me smile. There are even apps, like The Happy Tapper that can help remind you to list your three (or more) things for which you're grateful.
Other tips: Start a Gratitude Jar-If you’d rather not keep a journal try keeping a Gratitude Jar. Can you guess who taught me about this?....Yep, my Dad. We started one together last New Years. It’s never too early to start practicing gratitude. And my clients have started them with their kids and they really get into it.
It’s never too early to start practicing gratitude. Psychologist and researcher Jeffrey Froh created and implemented a gratitude curriculum for kids aged 8 to 11. The youngsters who received the lessons showed an increase in grateful thinking, appreciation and positive emotions as compared to their classmates who did not partake.
3. Practice. Speak it.
Throughout the day whenever I catch myself thinking or worse, saying something negative, I find something positive to say. I look for what’s right, what’s working, what I like. I make a point of telling as many people I encounter what’s great about them. Speaking is the third way to reinforce and share the good energy and love you feel or want to feel. It’s a law of attraction thing. Like attracts like.
From telling the cab driver how nice his maneuvering skills are, to complimenting the waitress’ attentiveness, small acts of gratitude and kindness pay off for everyone involved and for the people that the person to whom you’ve just expressed gratitude encounters next. Yes, it’s contagious, so YOU have the power to affect many people's day and life in general.
What happens when we encounter a difficult person...someone else’s monkey mind?
Limit as much as possible the time you spend with people who are always complaining. Just as gratitude is contagious, so can be negativity. If you can't just leave the conversation and you're experiencing them ranting, dumping or worse, talking poorly about someone else, be polite and compassionate and tell them, ”I’m really working on staying upbeat and having a better attitude. Could we change the topic of conversation?” Or offer to help them find a solution to their conflict and ask them questions that will create a more productive conversation about whatever is upsetting them. Or if you know there’s no real solution, for example it’s an ailing parent they’re complaining about, let them vent some then give them a big hug. It releases feel good chemicals in the body and brain and they probably need it. Aw. Whatever you do, be kind.
TRY OUR OWN 100 DAYS OF HAPPY CHALLENGE: Tag us in your gratitude photos and quotes on Instagram. @mindbodyreboot or Twitter @magenbanwart and we’ll repost em for you and share the love. A great way to start practicing and to develop a new, healthy habit of happy.
And finally, one of my fave books is an interpretation of the Tao Te Ching by Wayne Dyer called Change Your Thoughts Change Your Life. And it's really good at helping you to shift your perspective about life's events and ourselves. I've used it in my Yin Yoga classes for years. You're meant to read one short section each day so it's easy. Not a reader? Try watching this video or get the audiobook and play it or another inspirational book in the background as you do your busy work or simple tasks. It will help you keep your mind in a happier place.
Practice every day in little ways starting first thing in the mornin' tellin' yourself what you appreciate about yourself, your life and those you love. Then repeat, write it down. Challenge that monkey mind and the negative Nelly's in your world and stay vigilant for looking for what's right. Share with anyone who will listen. Give compliments, do good deeds without expectation. Life is so very, very good and "all you have to remember is how fortunate you are." -Sri Sri
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