Last year around this time I began a whole healing program. The first thing my coach had me do daily was to write at least one thing I was grateful for in a journal.
As I began doing this daily, I began noticing blessings I had never noticed before. When we operate from a place of gratitude, we attract more goodness into our lives. Not necessarily because thesethings weren't there before, but because we have closed ourselves off to seeing and recognizing these things.
This makes me think of the Fight of the Two Wolves parable. Maybe you've heard it before?:
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. The old man tell his grandson that there is a fight going on inside of him. A terrible fight between two wolves. One wolf is evil - anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, lies, ego, scarcity mindset, etc.
The other wolf is good - joy, peace, love, hope, empathy, generosity, compassion, etc.
The grandpa explains to his grandson that the same fight is going on inside of him and every other person too. The grandson thinks about this for a minute and then asks his grandfather, "Which one will win?" To which the old Cherokee grandpa replies, "The one you feed."
We can "feed" gratitude by writing down what we're grateful for, expressing our appreciation to others -especially Heavenly Father-, and by deliberately noticing the many blessings we have in our lives, big and small.
"Expressing gratitude is a lot more than just saying thank you. Emerging research has recently started to draw attention to it's multiple benefits. People who are consistently grateful have been found to be relatively happier, more energetic, more helpful, and report experiencing more frequent positive emotions. They also tend to be more helpful and empathetic, more spiritual and religious, more forgiving and less materialistic that others who are less predisposed to gratefulness. Furthermore, the more a person is inclined to gratitude the less likely he or she is to be depressed, anxious, lonely, and be as neurotic." (The How of Happiness)
Starting a gratitude practice is easy. Begin with writing down one thing you're grateful for each day. This can be in a journal, in the notes in your phone, or on a scrap piece of paper you throw away. Then you can move on to adding more "thank you's" to your prayers. Notice what you have right now that you would be sad without. For instance: Your breath, hot water, indoor plumbing, chairs to sit on, carpet, central air, your freedom, your singing voice, curtains, that you live in a safe neighborhood.
Practicing gratitude daily is life changing. I think Oprah says it best.
"The single greatest thing you can do to change your life today would be to start being grateful for what you have right now."