Have you ever given much “thought” to what your thoughts are, where they come from or the power they have in molding and shaping your life?
There was a time in my life where I definitely did not.
I used to be unhappy. I really didn’t like my life and I didn’t know how I got there.
I wished I had it different. I wanted better. I wanted more. A less corporate job, a better suited partner, more time, freedom… I obsessively thought about these things ALL of the time. The majority of my moments, were spent wanting what I didn’t have and not wanting what I did have. Think about that for a second. In the moment, wishing for something other than that moment. Insanity. Sounds like pure hell… and it was.
Now I’m not saying that it’s bad to want circumstances to change, I’m just suggesting we analyze where we’re coming from and how we’re choosing to think about it. What I understand now is that all of those thoughts made up my reality, my experience of life. My outlook was focused on lack, and was creating more negativity in my life. Looking back, I call it Divine Discontent, and it was my beginning.
Our experience is created by how we choose to see our lives.
My life began to change only when I realized that the key to having more and different and better starts where we are standing right now. It sounds cliché, but I promise you that the day I learned to love what is – was the day my life began to change to what I wanted it to be.
I began to keep a gratitude journal, recording the things from my day that I appreciated. Big or small, it didn’t matter… the health of my family, the smell of the fur behind my dog’s ears, the guy at the grocery store that let me go in front of him, my warm house in Winter, the freedom to choose, my friendships, Chai Masala tea, the Japanese Maple in my front yard, the bank teller that remembers me, my 2 awesome nephews, my able healthy body, a brisk run on a clear day… and the list went on. Every night before I went to bed, I made a list of at least 5 things from that day that I was grateful for. Pretty soon, I was grateful for everything. I began to see every moment as a gift. Not something to be controlled, but instead something to be pondered and appreciated. I noticed that I was purposefully selecting and highlighting those moments throughout the day. My focus entirely shifted from hating what I didn’t have, to loving what I did have. This experience of gratitude is the most profound and real joy that I have known.
Gratitude is a feeling of acknowledgment for a benefit that one has received or will receive. It is a celebration of the present moment and it magnifies good feelings. Gratitude opens the heart and quiets the mind and cultivating this feeling is the beginning of change. The exercise of searching our minds and our days to remember the good that we already have is very powerful and puts our attention on goodness, fullness and love, versus lack and limitation. It doesn’t matter what you are grateful for, the effect is the same – you feel lighter, are more present and gain perspective. It’s the frequency level of gratitude itself, not the perceived importance of the object that makes the power shifts in your heart, mind, body and soul. So we teach ourselves, through daily practice, to celebrate the good. Keeping a gratitude journal is the best way I know, to keep this practice alive.
The feeling and expression of gratitude is the difference between happy people and unhappy people. Happy people appreciate what they have – their circumstances, material goods, other people, and life itself. They maintain a sense of wonder and consciously take time to absorb the goodness and beauty they find.
Choose to believe every situation, person, and perceived slap in the face is there to serve you and it will do just that.
How will you choose to see today?
Margaret Schwenke is a Certified Holistic Health Coach and Eating Psychology Counselor in Atlanta,GA. Through one on one counseling, group workshops and cooking classes, Margaret’s passion lies in inspiring and empowering her clients toward their best picture of health. With a focus on unique, individual self-care, she guides her clients toward a new conscious understanding of their relationship to food, health and life.
To learn more about Margaret, please visit margaretschwenke.com