How to Develop the Habit of Gratitude...and Why!

I've always known that gratitude is important, but for a long time I did it more out of duty than real feeling.

This all changed for me when my career aspirations went to h-e-double hockey sticks-in-a handbag! For the first time, my ability to achieve my goals was thwarted. All the skills I've used to great effect before were no longer working! I felt like I was a hamster in a hamster wheel - running like crazy, and getting nowhere.

It actually took me a while of this, gaining many bumps and bruises to my ego along the way, until I finally, humbly, got down on my knees (both literally and figuratively) and expressed gratitude with real feeling. It has been a game changer for me - in more ways than my own skill level could ever accomplish.

It's one thing to read a quote and think, "Oh, how nice!" and something else entirely when you're able to take that quote off the wall, so to speak and use it to propel one foot in front of the other in hard times. It's then that the deeper level of meaning in the quote washes over us.

This is how I recently experienced the quote by Zig Ziglar:

Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.

I had read this and countless other quotes on gratitude plenty of times before, but it never struck home like it did after my hamster-wheel moment. It was then that I was able to use the concept of gratitude to propel me beyond my frustration and self-doubt.

This is why I love people who strive beyond their "failings" to learn new things: it's in our willingness to say "I will!" despite the conflict that allows us to grow and expand beyond our present capacity. I LOVE the people who are willing to do that!

When I did that, I expanded my comfort zone, my tenacity and my understanding of the power of gratitude.

Here's what happened: when I started truly seeking gratitude to overcome feelings of frustration and self-doubt that stemmed from the failure to achieve my goals, I learned something powerful about our Reticular Activating System and gratitude.

When I was grateful in mind only, gratitude didn't work for me, so when I was grasping at straws, desperate to find ANYTHING that worked, I was willing to look at gratitude in a different light: I was willing to try to FEEL it. But when you're on your knees, humbled by failure, nothing looks very rosy, so gratitude is hard to come by, but I knew intuitively I needed to find it!

In that moment of seeking things to be grateful for, I had turned on my Reticular Activating System without knowing it!

Our Reticular Activating System, according to is "The part of the reticular formation in the brainstem that plays a central role in bodily and behavioral alertness..."

In other's our bird dog: it finds for us what we tell it we're looking for!

So when I started looking for things to be grateful for, guess what my bird dog did? It went out sniffing for things to be grateful for, and it's a very good bird dog - it always finds what you're looking for. So! Good tip: be careful what you're looking for, because whether you are intentionally looking for something or not, you'll find it!

Anyway...the reason why your Reticular Activating System and Gratitude is such an effective combo to achieving your Career Success is because that bird dog won't stop looking for things to be grateful for, unless you tell it to! As your bird dog finds things to be grateful for, you'll feel more and more at peace with your progress, and then guess what shows up? MORE PROGRESS!

Just like ol' Zig says:

Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.

So enjoy the ride, folks! You are gaining momentum, whether you feel like you're spinning your wheels or not. (:


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