Every problem we have is just fear. Fear is a powerful force. It automatically cranks up the volume of the internal voice to high. DON’T it screams. Don’t move, don’t try, don’t answer, don’t act, don’t think it’s all going to work out and don’t push forward. Stop.
There we sit – stuck in fear. From this vantage point we may as well stop living, afraid to be vulnerable, make a mistake, look foolish or be less than perfect. Reduced to a puddle occupying the space where our former vibrant selves used to be.
We’ve all been there.
Last year I discovered a way out.
Gratitude – it will immediately disable fear and transform your life. It happened to me.
It was my biggest challenge to date, finding out I needed open heart surgery to repair a rapidly deteriorating heart valve and then w-a-i-t-i-n-g 7 months for it. The thought of the surgery activated every fear cell in my body – “was I going to die???” I was terrified, stuck in a loop of why me/poor me until I determined this would kill my spirit before I even got to surgery. So I started practicing gratitude –slowly at first since this didn’t appear to be the ideal situation to be grateful for. But what I found is that this is exactly where one can experience the most growth, those times when when fear has you in a death grip and life is hard.
I started out by being grateful for a couple of things every day, which quickly progressed to starting a journal and expressing gratitude for 10 things every morning and 10 things every night. From that point it was easy. I was even expressing gratitude for my current situation – it was an opportunity to review my life, transform it through the practice of gratitude, have a surgery that wouldn’t have been possible 5 years ago, be in the hands of medical professionals at the top of their game and be given a normal life span instead of a shortened one. I was obviously greatly blessed! The transformation was well underway.
By now gratitude was taking over my life. I needed to understand how it worked.
I could see that expressing gratitude was shutting off the oxygen supply to my fear completely disabling it. In the presence of gratitude, fear simply couldn’t survive it just shriveled and died. I realized I had been given new lenses through which to view the world, these were vastly up graded from my last ones and saw blessings in everything. It was miraculous.
It’s been almost a year since my surgery. Today I not only engage in a daily gratitude practice but it is continually deepening. I know first hand how I feels to be filled with gratitude and how in that place life is transformed.
If fear is calling the shots in your life express gratitude. Start right now…this very minute…I promise the clouds will lift, your heart will open and the fear will be chased away.
Daily Gratitude Practice
- Start a gratitude journal and set aside specific time(s) every day to note what you are grateful for. Start small – try 2 like I did and work your way up.
- Note why you’re grateful—(i.e. I’m grateful for the women in my 8am daily workout class because their smiling faces and positive energy fills me up and fuels my day.)
- Express grateful for the little things-(i.e. I’m grateful to the spider spinning its web outside my kitchen window it reminds me of the beauty and simplicity of life).
- When I feel fear sneak up on me…I silently repeat…thank you thank you thank you….until I feel it pass. Within 15 seconds the corners of my mouth are turning up and the fear has been swept away. *This is truly amazing!
- Express gratitude for something in the future… (i.e. I am grateful for the many doors that are opening to me) It allows us to feel gratitude for what’s on the horizon and a reason to look forward.
These are the 5 ways I practice gratitude every day, there are many more. Here are 2 highly recommended Gratitude books that will not only inspire but help you create a practice that is uniquely yours.
- The Magic by Rhonda Byrne – author leads you on a 28 day journey and teaches how to apply gratitude. Byrne offers strategies to transform your health, money, job and relationships and how to make your smallest desires and biggest dreams come true. You will also learn how to practice gratitude to dissolve problems and transform any negative situation. This is a consecutive 28 day intensive gratitude course, I engaged in it with 3 friends, we did it together imposing an accountability challenge to keep us on track (If you miss a day you have to go back 3 days and begin again). Who wanted to be the friend who sent us all back?? It worked! I highly recommend not only the book but doing it with a partner!
- Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier by Dr. Robert Emmons. Dr. Emmons Ph.D. has devoted his life to studying gratitude and is the world’s leading scientific expert. For his recent book, he conducted an experiment where he studied 3 groups. All participants were tested at the start to determine their happiness level. They were then divided into 3 random groups. The first group identified 5 things they were grateful for each week, the second group identified 5 hassles and the third group 5 experiences. At the end of 10 weeks the happiness level of participants was tested once again. What they found was that those identifying what they were grateful for had happiness levels 25% higher than when they began. If your personal goal is to be happier, this book will give you strategies to do that.
PS Can’t sleep? Try counting your blessings it will reframe your thinking, still the noisy mind and hopefully provide you with some zzzz’s. Works for me.