“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”
When is the last time you used gratitude to turn denial into acceptance, chaos into order or confusion into clarity? Melody Beattie’s understanding of the transformative power of gratitude provides compelling reasons to encourage us all to cultivate a gratitude practice.
I find myself regularly recommending gratitude to my counseling clients. I know that it is effective because over the years I have experienced the remarkable transformative power of gratitude in my own life and have integrated the practice into all areas of my personal and professional life.
Asking what a person is grateful for about themselves, their life, or their day is one of my favorite questions to ask. I find the answers always point me toward what is valued or important to the person and allows me to connect more deeply with them as a result.
I often say that gratitude is my life boat and buoys me up even in the most difficult of times. During the course of my daughter’s chronic health challenges, gratitude kept me sane, decreased the stress of living in constant crisis, and provided needed relief in the form of humor when things felt hopeless and I was full of despair.
Even now when I am dealing with less critical situations, like being stuck in traffic or making a mistake, I use gratitude to transform my perspective. Gratitude illuminates my experiences by shining a light of awareness on a difficult situation transforming my suffering into lessons and growth. My favorite gratitude practice is the ABC’s of gratitude, where I come up with something I am grateful for to correspond with each letter of the alphabet. My husband and I regularly engage in this practice to reconnect after being apart during the day. Our gratitude for x-rays when we need them and our daughter Zoey show up on our lists every time!
When I reflect on the many stressful life experiences I have survived both big and small, I recognize that my gratitude practice has been my most consistent self-nurturing practice to support me through it all. I believe my ability to be grateful is a great strength that has allowed me to be resilient. Gratitude has the power to transform any feelings of victimization into an experience of growth and thriving. And as a reminder to live grounded in gratitude, I even had the word tattooed on my foot.
I love this powerful reminder from Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons, “Many persons look at grateful people and say they are lucky or blessed, or just fortunate. But in truth, grateful people simply understand that gratitude is a signature strength. They make a point to train their gratitude muscle every day, just as if it were their heart, their mind, or their body on a treadmill.”
- So what are ways you can strengthen your gratitude muscle?
- How would stressful situations be different if you understood that gratitude was your signature strength?
- How can you cultivate a gratitude practice every day?
We often look outside ourselves when thinking about what we are grateful for, but I invite you to include something you are grateful for about yourself each and every day. This practice will reinforce your value and worth and lay the foundation for focusing on your strengths rather than what you do not feel good about within yourself. Choosing an attitude of gratitude will transform how you view yourself and your life.
The brilliant Albert Einstein understood the transformative power of gratitude when he wrote, “There are only two ways to live life. One is as though there are no miracles and the other that everything is a miracle.” I am inspired to live life as though everything is a miracle and express profound gratitude for my life experiences and for being alive!
May you strengthen your gratitude muscle every day and experience the transformative power of gratitude as you nurture peace in the world from the inside out!
Sending you so much peace, love and gratitude,
Kelley Grimes, M.S.W.
Counselor, Author & Speaker
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