Saturday, September 10, 2011

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. ~Thornton Wilder

If you are like most people, you probably take the little things in your life for granted. Not because you don't appreciate them, and not because they aren't important, but because they've always been there and you have come to see them as "normal" parts of your life. Deborah Norville refers to it as Thank you Power in her book entitled Thank You Power, others refer to it a gratitude and still others call it thanking God--but it all boils down to being thankful and showing appreciation for the good things in our lives.

The simple act of expressing your gratitude releases tremendous power in your life as it forces you to shift your focus from what you do not have to what you already have in your life. It's normal (and even desired) to wish for bigger and better things for yourself and your family, but how you do that matters.

What we focus our attention on determines the results we reap. Because the human mind works to bring about the images we feed it, focusing on the lack in our lives often magnifies the lack. When we focus on the things we do not want in our lives, such as financial difficulties, health problems or struggling relationships, our mind becomes stayed on those and works diligently to create the image we have provided.

The trick, of course, is to feed the brain images of what we want in our lives. Cultivating the habit of taking a stock of your blessings is a powerful way to do just that. Not only does it set the stage of the things that give meaning and value to your life, according to an article published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (2001) it improves the immune system, helps you handle stress and may extend your life up to 10 years. Other studies indicate that positive thinking and gratitude improve your attention span, promote creativity and expand your ability to think in divergent ways.

Get into the habit of expressing your gratitude or saying thank-you for those things in your life that bring your joy and you will soon find yourself feeling better about yourself and better able to tackle any obstacles that loom in your way to realizing your dreams.

Today, I am grateful for my cat that lies calmly in the morning sun while I work, for snoring dogs and the brilliant blue of the sky. I am grateful for wind chimes that make music in the breeze, for blades of grass that blanket the lawn and for little dirt roads that meander out of sight.
I am grateful for sunflowers that stand tall and strong, for wood vines that creep along the fence and for birds that sing. I am grateful for good books to read, for the echo of laughter and the sound of the loon.
I am grateful for family that keeps me strong, for friends who teach me much and for strangers that I may never meet but who touch my life in indiscernible ways. 
And, I am grateful for you dear reader, as you stop to share my day. May you cultivate the art of expressing your gratitude as you go forward in the direction of your dreams.

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