The Stress-Taming Power of Gratitude Part 1 of 2

I appreciate my life; EVERYTHING is an opportunity!

I appreciate my life.
EVERYTHING is an opportunity!

I first became acquainted with the idea of a gratitude practice in 1995 through Sarah Ban Breathnach’s book Simple Abundance. The book’s core concept was to begin and end each day by naming at least five things for which I was grateful. Some days the list overflowed with twenty-five or more items, evidence of my consciousness of the generosity of the Universe. Other days, when I perceived things as going poorly, I struggled to identify even five things for which I was thankful.

I followed the gratitude practice off and on through the years but abandoned it entirely at the very time when I could have most benefited from it. When I got insanely, stressfully busy in the final years of my consulting career, I left the gratitude practice by the side of the road, having erroneously concluded that I was too busy to be intentionally grateful.

Here comes the Judge!

Fast forward to 2010, when I had retired, lost eighty pounds, escaped depression, and began pursuing my calling as a life coach, author, and Reiki master teacher, teaching others about the transformative power of falling in love with themselves. Though love, respect, curiosity, and compassion were serving me well in manifesting unconditional self-love, sometimes when my life became especially complex, the judging voice could still take over with its fear-based messages of doom and gloom.

One day, during written meditation, I remembered the power of my former gratitude practice and wondered if it might be the missing link. As I went beyond just a morning and evening event to making it a way of life I call radical gratitude, here is what I discovered.

Opportunity knocks!

Love and gratitude serve as the bookends of constructive core energy. Between them, they encompass and support all the other aspects of love: respect, curiosity, and compassion. Love initiates the flow of core energy; gratitude expands it. Love is the originator. Gratitude is the catalyst. Through the eyes of gratitude, we see that everything is an opportunity, a grace-filled gift of Universal love characterized by loving-kindness, elegant beauty, copious generosity, and infinite mercy.

Radical gratitude fosters a life of generous, effortless, gracious flow filled with faith, hope, prosperity, peace, and joy.

  • Faith: I am confident that love is the greatest power in the Universe.
  • Hope: Universal love is always unfolding the highest good for all, in all, through all.
  • Prosperity: My Universal Source is excellent, limitless, and reliable.
  • Peace: I relax into all that was, is, and will be.
  • Joy: Whatever my circumstances, I know who I am and Whose I am: a unique and precious cocreative expression of the Divine.

What might radical gratitude look like in real life?

Let’s start with the example of cleaning the litter boxes for my three beloved cats, SiddhaLee, Mortimer, and Maisy Jane. My feline family members are far from aloof. They are my constant companions, comforters, playmates, greatest teachers, and—no kidding—coaching assistants. If you are interested in hearing more about their role in holding client-specific sacred space during coaching, visit my VoiceAmerica host page at www.tiny.cc/djwradio and listen to the recording of the February 6, 2013 episode of my weekly radio show, starting at the thirty-one-minute mark.

What might radical gratitude look like in real life?As anyone who has ever been owned by a cat can tell you, cats require litter boxes. To function effectively, there needs to be at least one more litter box than the number of cats, and those boxes need to be kept clean. With experimentation, I discovered that, ever the overachievers, my three cats require six boxes that need to be scooped free of any refuse morning and night. Those six boxes also need to be emptied completely of all litter, washed out, and replaced with fresh litter once a month.

As the number of litter boxes escalated, at first I was resentful. Why couldn’t they stop being so territorial and use fewer boxes? I perceived the money and time I was investing as excessive and burdensome. Until, a year after he came to live with me, my Mortimer became ill and nearly died. When we pulled him back from the brink of death and he began to grow stronger, it finally hit me: cleaning litter boxes is an act of love. It is a privilege and honor to be able to return a fraction of the love and companionship he and his mates shower on me daily, by handling this hygiene task for them. A funny thing happened; when I chose to shift my energy from resentment to gratitude, litter patrol was no longer a burden. Now I sing and chatter happily to the cats while I move from room to room, ever their faithful, itinerant scooper.

A dream come true

Let’s extend the example to more mundane fare. When I was a young child, I never even dreamed of a miraculous machine that would wash and dry the dishes for me so that all I had to do was put them away. Then we got our first dishwasher. Things were great for the first few months, but then I began taking my new blessing for granted, and before you know it, my brother and I were fighting over who was putting away more dishes and what could be done about it. Not an example of gratitude. Even as an adult, I still found I had days when I grumbled about how much I had to do and how long it took to empty the dishwasher. Now, when I apply the gratitude principle, putting the dishes away is easy, fast, and fun. How cool to have a machine that washes and dries them for me.

This week, I started the dishwasher just before settling down at my kitchen table for my morning meditation. A few minutes later, I realized how comforted I was by the gentle thrumming and splashing sounds of the elixir of life, water, cleansing my life of residue, reminding me that each day, each moment, offers the opportunity for a fresh start. Who knew a dishwasher could be the source of meditative insight? When we choose to look at everything through the lens of gratitude, our perspective is always rose-colored by appreciation.

Breathe...express gratitude...relax

Speaking of gratitude for technology, how cool is it that I have a computer, printer, and wireless network right in my own home? How could I have ever complained when the printer ran out of ink in the middle of a big job and I had to replace the cartridges? Or my cellphone signal didn’t work so well in the Ozarks? I remember the days when there were no color TVs, personal computers, printers, or cell phones. Now, when any of my technology hits a bump in the road, I repeat an affirmation I learned from Louise L. Hay many years ago, one that still strikes me as funny and so has the added benefit of making me laugh aloud: “Cars and refrigerators do not break down when we are in a good place.” So when things do break down, and I catch myself grumbling, I set my intention to align myself with a better place (gratitude) so I’ll quit wasting my energy in whining and do something constructive (like replacing the empty ink cartridge).

The day after writing this section on gratitude, the Universe sent me a technology “refresher” lesson in the form of twenty-four hours in which it appeared my most recent two years of Quicken financial data had become corrupted beyond repair. I repeatedly practiced deep breathing and clearing myself of all fear throughout the process. This allowed me to access my deepest wisdom and discover the key to resolving the seeming “problem” when even Quicken advanced tech support had given up. Ta-da! It would appear I’ve learned the technology lesson now. Enough with the pop quizzes already!

Radical Gratitude!

So many things to be grateful for: clean water; hot showers; healthcare; education; heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer; healthy food; smiles, hugs, and kisses; and physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual abilities.

When I stay centered in gratitude for all of life’s simple blessings, I find it easier to stay anchored there in the more painful times. The friend who dumps me. The spouse who becomes ill. The hurricane that devastates the beloved South Jersey Shore of my childhood. The movie theater mass shooting in my hometown of Aurora, Colorado. Being present in New York City on September 11, 2001, where I spent the night accounting for my missing consulting colleagues. When viewed through the lens of gratitude, even those painful experiences are opportunities for deeper insight, greater compassion, dramatic personal growth, and increased appreciation for the gift of life. In the words of the great sage Kahlil Gibran, “Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.”

Kindness rekindles hope and gratitude

And, if, on your darkest days, despite your best efforts, you still can find nothing to appreciate, try conveying a simple kindness to someone in need. If you are like many, you just may find the hope and gratitude you awaken in another will rekindle the flame of hope and gratitude in your own troubled heart.

Excerpt from “Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life!” © Copyright 2013-2018 DJW Life Coach LLC. All rights reserved.

 

What readers say about
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“In her book, Deborah expertly blends her personal journey of life changing experiences with practical and effective tools that others can use to change their own lives. People who would especially benefit from reading (and re-reading this book) are those who struggle with addiction challenges, low self-esteem, life transitions, and those exploring career changes to name just a few of the folks for whom this book would make a positive difference in their lives. I like the way she structured the book in terms of first sharing her own story, laying out what fuels constructive core energy, her description of the nine senses, as well as the concept of a personal board of directors, and finally the lessons in living. This is a book that a person can pick up and read just a short section and take time to mull over that. Then the reader would go back to it later and move into the next section, and not rush headlong through it. Just step through it at the pace that fits the person.” Joyce Feustel, Boomers’ Social Media Tutor

 

“This book is a powerful template for personal transformation. The author gives you insight into your own inner workings, guides you to discover how you’re showing up in each moment, and offers you the gifts of curiosity and respect to lovingly move forward toward the life you long to live. Maximize your personal transformation by coaching live with the author.” Missi Holt Bantner, Fitness and Nutrition Editor, Early to Rise

 

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“I knew Deborah before she became a Professional Life Coach. I’ve been amazed at how she has changed her life. When I decided it was time to begin making decisions about the next phase of my life, I knew immediately that Deborah was the person I wanted to work with. Her personal and professional experiences help her guide clients through coaching in a way that is individualized and delightfully eye-opening. Her warmth and sensitivity are immediately apparent, even over the phone. With gentle encouragement and permission, she will guide you through an examination of your life, including difficult experiences. She will help you gain insight from your past choices and then explore possibilities for moving forward in less encumbered ways. When you work with Deborah, your life will take on new meaning and your potential will be limitless!” Chris

“The work I did with Deborah continues to change my life. While I have learned many valuable lessons from her, the greatest was the deep insight that is available to me when I listen to and learn from my own inner wisdom. Her intuition, discernment and encouragement have taught me to trust my own intuition—creating new paths and possibilities for my life. One of Deborah’s great gifts is helping others respect and connect with their inner guidance and through that connection, to form a deeper, more meaningful bond with the collective wisdom and energy of all.” Ryan

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About djwlifecoach

As a board-certified coach, author and Reiki master teacher, I share hope, possibilities and empowerment with the world. What's love got to do with minimizing stress and getting unstuck? Everything! My book, "Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life!" (Hay House/Balboa Press 2013) shares my story and the stories of 10 of my clients along with my signature Discovery Framework. During my 30 years as an organization transformation consultant, I served as a senior partner in four of the world's largest, most prestigious global professional services firms. In 2005, I took a five-year sabbatical to find healing and peace because non-stop work had taken its toll. My recovery from burnout, including a sustained 80-pound weight loss and freedom from 10 years of debilitating depression, led to finding my purpose sharing hope, possibilities and empowerment with the world. Through healing and self-exploration, I discovered that loving yourself unconditionally is the key to transforming your personal life, your work and the world. With attention and intention, I learned to live in alignment with love through a wealth of energy-shifting tools and techniques that help me reduce stress, anxiety and overwhelm by releasing limiting beliefs, emotions and habits. My books, blog, radio show and signature coaching programs help individuals and organizations harness the transformative energy of love to turn unexplored possibilities into fulfilling realities and step into their greatness. To learn more about my work in the world, visit djwlifecoach.com. Subscribe to my blog at tiny.cc/djwblog. Listen to my radio show at tiny.cc/djwradio. View my author video and book trailer at tiny.cc/djwauthorvideo and tiny.cc/djwbooktrailer. Access 40+ tapping resources at tiny.cc/djwtaps. Send email to deborah@djwlifecoach.com. For fun, I love singing, reading, sewing, knitting, golfing and movies. I live in Williamsburg, Virginia with my husband, Wilson, and the coaching cats who manage my life—SiddhaLee and Maisy Jane.
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