Gratitude...

 
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.”
 ~ Cicero 
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What is Gratitude? It is the state of being thankful. Essentially this means that when we look at life as an opportunity to grow in love, and learn about opening our hearts with love, we see the world from a place of healing and peace. What would your day be like if you started and ended it by simply noticing all the great things you have in your life? 

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When we cultivate the habit of always appreciating the things we already have, we soon discover even more things to be grateful about and we attract these things to us. The converse is also true of course.  Were we to cultivate at attitude of dissatisfaction with what we already have, we would attract to ourselves more things to be dissatisfied with. So which metal attitude will you choose? Unfortunately being ungrateful, cynical and dissatisfied with everything has become trendy in modern society. Don't fall into this trap.

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Amirah of www.soulmystic.com  suggests there are ten top reasons to adopt gratitude in our lives: 

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1) Being in gratitude has many positive side effects. The positive emotions make us feel good and offer a sense of comfort. When we take a few moments to express our appreciation inwardly, we immediately begin to feel happier, more relaxed and more optimistic. 

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2) Feelings of gratitude provide short-cuts to miracles. Negative thoughts and feelings inhibit the natural flow of life energy. When we are feeling positive and grateful we amplify  our natural flow of life energy, speeding us towards the fulfilment of our goals. Appreciating what we already have is the best short-cut to manifestation and personal fulfillment. 

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3) Feelings of gratitude flood the body with immune-boosting endorphins. Studies also provide evidence that a positive, appreciative attitude enhances the body’s healing system and general health. When we hold feelings of thankfulness for at least 15 to 20 seconds, beneficial physiological changes take place in the body. Levels of the stress hormones cortisol and norepinephrine decrease, producing a cascade of beneficial metabolic changes. Coronary arteries relax, thus increasing the blood supply to the heart and breathing becomes deeper, raising the oxygen level in our tissues.

4) Feeling grateful puts us back into the ‘Flow of Life’ at the speed of thought. Thoughts become things. When we are feeling grateful and thinking happy, positive thoughts, we create positive situations and we draw happy, positive, grateful people to us.

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5) Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. Feelings of gratitude turn what we have into enough, and more than enough. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast or a house into a home. Gratitude helps us makes sense of the past, brings peace for today, and creates optimism for tomorrow. 

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6) Feelings of gratitude give us a ‘Natural High’.  Grateful people tend to be more optimistic, a characteristic that researchers say boosts the immune system. Studies indicate that daily gratitude exercises result in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism and energy. Grateful people experience less depression and stress, are more likely to help others and tend to make more progress toward personal goals. People who feel grateful are also more likely to feel loved. 

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7) Gratitude provides an immediate sense of well-being. Gratitude, it turns out, can help us better manage stress. Gratitude research is beginning to suggest that feelings of thankfulness have tremendous positive value in helping people cope with daily problems, especially stress. 

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8) Feeling grateful is the main cause of ‘Sustained Joy’. Focusing on the gifts we have been given is an antidote to envy, resentment, regret and other negative states that undermine long-term happiness. Joy is the simplest form of gratitude. 

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9) The more we give—the more we receive. We always get more of whatever we appreciate. When we express love, gratitude and sincere appreciation, we naturally expand. Consciously appreciating what we already have is a great short-cut to manifestation and personal fulfillment. The more we assist others, the more we will assist ourselves. 

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10) When we are genuinely thankful, anger and fear vanish. One of the incredible truths about gratitude is that it is impossible to feel both the positive emotion of thankfulness and a negative emotion such as anger or fear at the same time. 

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So be lavish in your gratefulness, make gratitude a daily ritual and be thankful for whatever forces you to deal with your own strong emotions. Set aside an hour or two to do nothing much except be grateful. Focus on what is working in your life and what IS right in the world. It doesn’t matter how small or seemingly insignificant it may be. Before long you will notice that more things will fall into place with little or no effort on your part. Gratitude is a wonderful tool to use quickly to feel good.

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It is so important to be grateful for all the things we have and for all the things we receive.  That way the Universe, God, God & Goddess, our own Higher Self, or whatever you want to say, will bring us more. I always ask my clients to write out a full list of all the things they have to be grateful for and to read it out allowed every day. 

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One of my clients responded by sending me this: "That's right Jack, gratitude is so important. Just think of the birds, they thank the Universe with a beautiful chorus each morning and thereby attract the food they eat throughout the day."  What a wonderful idea!

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Here is something else to consider. Have you ever given someone a gift, and when they opened it they reacted with very little enthusiasm? They said flatly, "Oh thanks, I've been wanting one of those." Their words say "thank you" but their heart says, "big deal". You can feel that, can't you? Does it inspire you to want to give them another gift? Probably not. On the other hand, if you give someone a gift and they exclaim, "Oh THANK YOU, I just love it!", doesn't that lift your heart? You feel appreciated and happy. 

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What do you think gives you the things you have to be grateful for in life? What is the source of our supply? Some people like to personalise the source by calling it God or The Genie Of The Universe, or some other title. Others like to invoke various psychological (or even quantum mechanical) theories to explain it. But whatever it is, it is more generous when appreciated. So say "thank you" and mean it!

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Its is so important to be thankful for the blessings we have in our lives. Many of us have families we love and who love us. We may well have jobs that enable us to make a meaningful contribution to society and which provide us with the necessities of daily living. Perhaps we also enjoy good health, have friends to laugh and play with, have the freedom and free-will to live our lives the way we want to. Most of us have some or all of these things. If asked we would probably admit to being  grateful for these blessings but how often do we actually stop to think about it as we go about our day? Probably not as often as we should. 

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What about the things on the list we do not have? How can we lie in our sick bed and be grateful for our good health? Obviously we can't but we can be grateful we are still alive. We can give thanks for the times we feel better, for the beautiful day we can see though the window, for the kind doctors, nurses and family members who are helping us. There is always something to feel grateful for and the more we develop the habit of looking for these things the more good we will draw into our lives. 

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People often think gratitude will come when they receive some great piece of luck or fortune, but that is backwards. Of course, it is easy to think that gratitude comes from having what we want. We might imagine ourselves giving thanks if we had money, a loving family, and maybe a house on the beach. But we know there are ungrateful, unhappy people with these things. We also know that there are poor people full of gratitude for what little they have, so where does this feeling come from? When we are grateful for the little things we already have, we open the channels through which more good things can come to us. Of course it would feel great to win the lottery, have more friends, more money, a bigger house and world travel. These are all good things but its important to feel grateful for all the little things in life first. The right frame of mind is necessary to fully enjoy life. We need to develop a permanent attitude of gratitude.

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Thought is energy and energy never dies. Rather, it changes form as attention is focused on it. As I have said before, a belief is a thought we are in the habit of thinking. It takes effort initially to start a new habit but with constant reparation it gets easier. A belief is also something more, it is an habitual thought with subconscious expectations attached. Everything starts with a thought and reality is created by expectant thoughts. One of the universal laws is the Law of Increase. This law ensures that whatever we concentrate on will increase in our life. In other words, whatever we think about expands for us and therefore we will receive even more of it. In an empowering way, expressing gratitude for all the many blessings we have received accelerates this process. We attract what we think and feel about the most. The more we think about, and feel grateful for,  all the wonderful things we already have, the more wonderful things will be drawn towards us. Life feels better when we feel blessed. When we can look around and say "thank you" for this wonderful gift of life, for a sunny day or for the rain which make our world lush and green, for the opportunities each experience offers us as well as for the challenges that allow us to grow, then the whole experience of life will be richer an happier.  Let me say that last bit again in a different way because its so important. Express gratitude for every experience, even the painful ones, because they push you to learn and grow. If life had always been easy for you, you would not have the strength of character and the resourcefulness that you have today. So be grateful !!!

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I realise that gratitude can be harder to foster when we are experiencing struggle and conflict. Maybe we've just lost a job, or a loved one. Maybe we are moving through a difficult financial situation. Maybe we are mired in depression and sadness. I do appreciate that it's hard to feel grateful during moments like that. That's where Faith comes in. Gratitude and Faith go hand in hand. Gratitude is reflecting on and being thankful for the blessings we do have, while Faith affirms that more good times are on the way. Maybe not everything in our lives is the way we want it to be, but some things are wonderful, and the things that aren't so wonderful will get better in time. Another job is just around the corner. Peace and healing will come to us as we go through the grieving process for our loved one. Financial struggles come and go. Depression and sadness will lift (counselling may be necessary in some cases), and the sun will shine once again. Believe this. Know it in your heart. Affirm it to the Universe, and it will be so. 

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I am not talking about some naive, blind faith. I am taking about the same faith that you have in the sun rising tomorrow morning. You know it will because it always has. If you think back through your life you will see that every time you felt stuck, depressed or sad; a better time came along soon after. So why should this occasion be any different? The more you study the principles in this course, AND APPLY THEM IN YOUR LIFE EVERY DAY, the more faith you will have in your ability to turn any bad situation around. I started this course by talking about Napoleon Hill. He lost everything he had in the 1929 stock market crash but armed with his knowledge of the success principles he went on to make another, much greater, fortune. And so will you! So have faith.

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An attitude of gratitude arises from how we look at things. It is the natural feeling that comes when we recognise the real value of the people and things in our lives. Focus on the good and we cannot help but have a better attitude and experience of life. Gratitude then, is something we can learn and cultivate.

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We need to be thankful for everything. Don't neglect the simple things most people take for granted. My own personal gratitude list includes the following: "I am so grateful and happy for this brand new day, full of opportunities. I am so grateful and happy that I always have enough healthy food to eat. I am so grateful and happy that I always have enough clean water to drink. I am so grateful and happy that I always have clean air to breathe. I am so grateful and happy that I always have shelter from the elements whenever I choose to use it. I am so grateful and happy that my life is always calm, quiet and peaceful. Thank you, thank you, thank you."

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But how can we be thankful for the things we don't even notice? So the first step is to slow down and smell the roses.  Stop chattering over dinner and start really tasting the food. Look up from your computer occasionally and look out of the window. 

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The second step is to make this appreciation of life into a habit. The media is training us to notice only the ugly things in the world. We can combat that by consciously choosing to see the good and beautiful things, until doing so becomes automatic.

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One way to encourage this habit is to start writing down every positive thing that happens to you, and all the things you like. Continue this until you start automatically seeing the good things in life. If you've ever bought a new car and then suddenly started to notice all the other cars on the road of the same make and model, you already know how this awareness and focus thing can alter your perception of reality. In the same way, once you are aware of the good, and start looking for it, you'll start to see wonderful things all over the place. 

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How many of us live our lives being grateful for the many blessings we have? How many times a day do we say 'thank you'? When was the last time you said 'thank you' to yourself for creating this wondrous being that you are? 

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What would your day look like if you lived your life as if everything was a gift to you? How would you start the day if the first thing you did was to be thankful for the gift of life? One of the quotes I especially like is by Jim Evans. It is, "If you don't think everyday is a great day, try going without one." 

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Black Elk (the native American visionary) spoke of his habit of greeting each morning by stepping outside, letting his bare feet touch the wet grass literally reconnecting with the earth, and singing a prayer of gratitude for the day's arrival.

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Here are ten practical steps you can easily take towards greater gratitude :

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1) Start a gratitude journal. Depending on which author you read, suggestions range from 5 - 80 things a day. What works for me is saying 'thank you' to everything I encounter each day, for example a sunrise/sunset, food, shelter, warm homes and offices, clothing, colleagues, work/jobs, lessons about living peace, etc.

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2) Remember Meister Eckhart's saying, "The most important prayer in the world is just two words: "THANK YOU".

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3) Do a gratitude alphabet exercise. In your notebook, write the letters from A - Z. As fast as you can, write down I am grateful for ___________ starting with the letter A and going through the alphabet. For example: I am grateful for apples, I am grateful for bananas, I am grateful for carrots, and so until you finish all the letters.

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4) Start your day by being thankful for all the blessings you have.

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5) Practice an 'Act of Kindness' everyday.

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6) Look for ways you can genuinely praise your partner, your child, your colleague, your employees, the people who serve you (such as a waitress, postman, paper boy, police officers, etc.).

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7) Thank Mother Earth for sustaining your life by providing food, air, and water; and thank our Sun Father for providing heat, light and all the energy that powers the systems of the Earth. 

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8) Write a letter to the Universe expressing gratitude for all your blessings.

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9) Thank your parents for giving you life.

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10) Thank the dance of life for all the lessons you have learnt.

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Simple exercises like this train our minds over time. When we are in the habit of counting our blessings, gratitude, and a much richer experience of life, is the natural result.

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Its a good idea to go through your home with a pen a paper, writing down all the material things you own, remember to include your car if you have one and anything at all that you may have.

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Then think of all the other blessings you have that are not possessions, the people who help you and enrich your life, and your health etc. Of course, true gratitude is much more than just the act of mechanically listing the blessings in our lives every night before we go to sleep. Gratitude is an attitude. It's a mindset of thankfulness and joy for the wonderful blessings in our lives. Our hearts and minds are lifted in joy when we reflect on the beauty and love surrounding us. It's a heartfelt acknowledgement that our lives would not be as happy as they are now if we didn't have those blessings.

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Do you know what I'm grateful for? You! I am grateful for every single one of you who is studying this course right now. I'm deeply grateful that I have been given the opportunity to send even a tiny ray of sunshine into your lives each month. The emails I get back from you telling me that I've made a difference in your life, no matter how small, fill my heart to overflowing.

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Be thankful for the ways in which you touch the lives of others. Some of them you may not even be aware of, and that's okay. Know that they do exist. Take time to reflect on the good things in your life, not just today, but every day. Really let yourself feel the goodness and love surrounding you. Tell your loved ones what they mean to you. Embrace them and be thankful for their presence in your life. Focus on the love, for it's all that really matters.

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So like those birds, lets start each day by singing or reciting a beautiful chorus of all the things we have to be grateful for.  What an inspiring way to start each day.

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Maintaining an Attitude of Gratitude is probably one on the most critical elements in establishing a Success Mindset. If you with to say Thank You for having received this course, and only if it truly comes from your heart, please feel free to hit The Gratitude Button below:
 
 
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Jack Canfield
and Michael Beckwith
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