By Rebecca Fine

No, that title isn’t the written expression of my old Okie* accent kicking in. “Thank” is EXACTLY the right word! (My apologies to the late Napoleon Hill, author of the classic, Think and Grow Rich.)

leadership training

Gratitude is like a muscle. It takes regular exercise to strengthen it and make it strong. And if you find yourself in a situation where it SEEMS like there’s nothing much to be grateful for, you’ll find it of little avail to try to FORCE gratitude. It’s slippery that way — kind of like trying to force yourself to sleep when you’re wide awake.
In those times, the key is simply to relax and just let yourself be WILLING to be grateful. To just let yourself look around with “soft eyes.” I heard it said once that there is no one who has so little that gratitude is impossible — and there is no one who has so much that gratitude is inevitable.

It’s a choice. In every moment.

Once your gratitude muscle is toned up from regular use and repetition, you’ll find things that were formerly difficult become effortless — just as walking up four or five flights of stairs doesn’t “wind” you when you’re in shape.

Did you know that it’s possible to establish a new habit with 21-28 consecutive days of practice? So since the habitual practice of gratitude WILL change for the better the way you look at virtually everything, why not get to work on it right now?

I promise you that THIS exercise is NOT boring, you don’t need special equipment or clothing, and you don’t have to worry about looking silly in front of strangers! ;-D

Here it is:

Every day for the next 21 days, express your gratitude and appreciation to one or more people — via email, phone, notes or cards, or in person. It might be gratitude for something we think of as small and (seemingly) insignificant — a kind word, a smile of encouragement. It might even be asking to speak to the supervisor of someone who gives you wonderful service in a shop or restaurant in order to offer praise and appreciation.

This last one is especially powerful. Samuel Goldwyn (one of the founders of Metro Goldwyn Mayer, the giant movie studio) once said, “When somebody does something good, applaud. You’ll make two people happy.” When you acknowledge and thank someone in a PUBLIC way, you get to spread the good feelings around even more widely!

You might also want to express gratitude for something that feels really “big” — like finally saying thanks to that favorite teacher who made an impossible subject interesting or someone who believed in you when it seemed like no one else did. It might be saying thank you to God, however you conceive of your Higher Power.

Do this CONSCIOUSLY — and with gusto, flair, and style!

Once, to thank a friend, I bought a poster board and markers and made a big silly sign, then took the subway all the way to the top of Manhattan and hung it in tree in a tiny park. I then called my friend and told her to look out the window!

That was nearly 20 years ago and it still makes us grin to think of it.

Take a few minutes to make a gratitude list — everyone you can think of that you can thank in the next 21 days. Keep adding to it. This is not a place where seeing how little you can do to just “get by” makes any sense at all. This is a place where you want to see HOW MUCH you can do! Make a game of it. Have FUN.

If you want to give yourself (and the world) some extra voltage, write a note of appreciation to — gasp! — a political leader.

“Remember,” Mr. Wattles tells us, “that they are all helping to arrange the lines of transmission along which your riches will come to you, and be grateful. This will bring you into harmonious relations with the good in everything, and the good in everything will move toward you.”

For some of us right now, this may be a HUGE challenge. Well, that’s exactly the point! And the results of building the gratitude habit are huge, too. Look for the good. Seek the common ground. Focus on what unites rather than separates. “More life to all, and less to none.”

Now, while you’re engaged in acknowledging and expressing your gratitude, notice how it makes you FEEL. (And how that great feeling lingers and makes EVERYTHING look better!)

One word of warning: Don’t do it with the idea of the other person responding in kind. That may or may not happen. But this exercise isn’t about that; it’s about what feeling and expressing gratitude does for YOU.

I’ll go first. Thank you for reading this! You have no idea how helpful it is to me personally to have you holding me accountable every month and helping me get better at “practicing what I preach.”

I appreciate you! And you know, just in case this finds you having one of those “haywire” days, there are a LOT of other people who appreciate you, too, even though they may not have said so lately.

Believe it! You are a gift to the whole planet, and I am grateful.

* Note: If you don’t know what an “Okie” is, it’s a person from the state of Oklahoma here in the U.S. To non-Okie ears, Okie-speak seems to be delivered with a rather distinctive “twang.” ;-)
Rebecca Fine is the founder of The Science of Getting Rich Network

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