I can honestly say that after doing this gratitude experiment for 18 days straight, my attitude is definitely different than before I started. I thought about this in the shower today. (Actually that’s where most of my blog entry ideas start.) I’m by no means some kind of transformed person all of a sudden. But I can tell you that being grateful is enabling me to more effortlessly start with a positive reaction to things instead of jumping to a negative. As a result, my clients have been easier to deal with, my family and life in general.
Don’t worry, a) I’m not going to give you any more detail about my personal hygiene and b) I’m not going to get all metaphysical on you. However, I’m going to go out on a limb here and give you some background as to how this works – how gratitude can affect you and the universe around you, through the law of attraction. Feel free to log out now if the new-ageness of this all sounds too ‘out there.’ But I challenge you to bear with me.
This concept really isn’t new at all. And trust me, Oprah and The Secret did not discover this idea. The law of attraction dates back to the early 1900s and has been studied by hundreds of scientists since. Many books have been written about it and it is at the core of many other self-help concepts though often disguised by different buzzwords.
It boils down to this: the belief that “like attracts like” and by focusing on positive thoughts (such as gratitude), you attract positive in your life. Transversely, if you focus on negative thoughts (what you don’t have, what you want to change, what bugs you), you attract negative. There is much more to it, but that’s it in a nutshell. You can look at this (as many do) and say that it is easily explained by the theory that positive thinking makes you more motivated, more aware and thus more open to opportunities that present themselves. Either way you look at it, positive results are still the outcome, so why fight it.
The concept is based on the belief that you are the creator of your reality. As such, you are also the creator of what you think your limitations are (even though most of the time these are driven by outside influences, and often from parents who didn’t realize they were doing it).
For example, my mom used to joke that I was not good at math (not as mean as it sounds; thank goodness I rocked at Language Arts – or English as it was called before the world of political correctness). I remember this all the way back to fourth grade and it stuck with me. And guess what I joke about all the time with people when I get stumped without a calculator? I usually say “Sorry, I’m a Journalism major, we don’t do math.” That always gets a chuckle, but what if I hadn’t been somewhat programmed to believe that? I probably would not be a mathematician, that’s for sure. But I bet I would have put more effort toward learning math related concepts for the many school years that followed.
As another example, let’s say I’m in a grumpy mood and focusing on something that really annoys me as I am opening an email from a client. Do you think there might be a chance that my mindset could more easily allow me read into the short wording of our back and forth emails on a project and take them the wrong way? You bet. But if I am in a positive place (which is automatic if you are staying aware of your thoughts and focusing on gratitude), positive results will most likely ensue.
The absolute best documented and most famous example of the law of attraction is the placebo effect, commonly used in medication trials. Even in expertly designed double-blinded studies, more positive results are almost always documented from patients who expect something positive to happen compared to the ones who didn’t.
Oh, and have you ever heard someone say that they have the worst luck ever? I cringe when I hear it even though I used to say it. Sometimes you’ll hear someone list all the bad things that have happened to them related to their car or their work, etc. And it really does seem like one thing after another happens to them on the same day or in the same month. That is the perfect example of focusing on the negative and producing more negative results. Kind of like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Trust me, I’ve done it.
So how does gratitude fit into all of this? Simply put, being thankful for what you have gets you to the place of willingness to let new things come into your life (instead of Jedi-mind tricking yourself out of things with negative thoughts). Thus, gratitude helps you feel positive so you can attract more positive. (Translation: If you have a fender bender, you focus on not being hurt or worse, rather than the damage to your car or the stupidity or lack of insurance of the other driver.)
There is much more to it (visualization, asking the Universe for what you want vs what you don’t want, etc.). Motivational speakers like Wayne Dyer swear by it (and have made millions discussing it). One of my favorite books of all time is The Power of Intention which helped shift my thinking several years ago at a time when I really needed a shift in mindset. (I contributed to Wayne’s millions and have bought this book for many people. Tip: all of his other books are just a different spin on this same concept).
So however you want to look at it, it’s certainly worth thinking about. It works.
So, as cheesy and sentimental as it sounds, today I am grateful for gratitude, an open mind and the world of positive outcomes that are possible.