Wednesday, November 25, 2020

WEDNESDAY WISDOM: The Surprising Power of The Gratitude Question




“Gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have instead of always reaching for something new in the hopes it will make them happier, or thinking they can't feel satisfied until every physical and material need is met. Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack." Harvard Medical School “Healthbeat” newsletter


I have a new secret tool for upgrading or calming my troubled thoughts.

Years ago, a teacher and leader I admired taught me a simple method for reining in out-of-control thoughts. He taught me to sing or hum an uplifting song to myself whenever I found my mind wandering in unhappy, anxious, discouraging, or inappropriate paths, or when my thoughts were racing and keeping me from going to sleep. Amazingly, after only a verse or two, my thinking would shift into a more positive direction or I would be able to relax and drift off to sleep.

Lately, however, for reasons unknown to me, singing a song to myself has become less effective than it used to be. Perhaps the song had become repetitious, perhaps the neural pathways in my brain were getting older, or perhaps it was something related to the pandemic. Whatever the cause, my singing technique wasn’t working as well anymore.

But recently I have come across a new approach, a different methodology for controlling or quieting my thoughts.

I’ve been thinking a lot these days about gratitude, trying to write something appropriate for the Thanksgiving season. With those ideas floating around in my head, I made an amazing discovery. I have found that when I can’t sleep or when my mind is roaming in undesirable directions, I can place myself in a happy, inspiring place by asking myself one simple question. 

What Are You Grateful For?

I call it The Gratitude Question.

It’s a simple but effective query. When I ask myself The Gratitude Question, I find that, without resistance, my brain glides into thankful, appreciative territory where I relax and realize how blessed I am. While there, I remember that when you love what you have, you have everything you need. While there, I recognize how much I love the people who surround me. While there, I stop worrying; I stop fretting; I stop yearning for things I don’t have. I am at peace.

Going to my thankful place by asking myself “What Are You Grateful For?” completely changes my spirit and attitude. My eyes are opened to the multitude of blessings that continually surround me. From that vantage point, I treasure the words of William Arthur Ward, who wrote: "Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings."

This Thanksgiving, despite the uncertainty and angst swirling around us, I choose to be grateful. I choose to cherish everyone and everything that blesses my life.  I choose to believe what Melody Beattie said: "Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more."

This Thanksgiving, I’m especially thankful for my wonderful new super-question: “What Are You Grateful For?” 

Perhaps you should try asking yourself The Gratitude Question and see what happens for you. For me, it changes everything.



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