Teaching Gratitude

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011
  • Mike Robbins Motivational keynote speaker, coach and author

I’ve been speaking and writing about gratitude for almost ten years now
– and I’m still amazed at how challenging it can be for me to focus on what I’m
grateful for at times (especially when I’m feeling sorry for myself or
complaining).  I’m also blown away
by how powerful and transformative gratitude is when we choose to pay attention
to it, experience it, and express it.

I met a man recently who had been in prison for almost thirty
years.  When he was asked what he
appreciated most about being out of jail he said, “Seeing the stars, listening
to children laugh, and hearing dogs bark.”  Wow – think of all of the simple things we take for granted
that we could choose to be grateful for each day.

What are you grateful for?  How often do you ask yourself and
others this powerful question?  Sadly, many of us don’t take the time to
ask or answer this question on a regular basis – especially in the midst of
these difficult times. 

Hopefully, you and your family will spend some time acknowledging what
you’re grateful for this week on Thanksgiving and over the next few weeks
during the holiday season. 
However, focusing on gratitude is something that we can do all the time,
not just on special occasions or during the holidays.

There are many reasons (i.e. excuses) we have for not focusing on what
we’re grateful for:

  • We’re too busy and stressed out
  • We’re waiting for things to work out “perfectly” (which they almost never do)
  • We don’t want to brag (especially these days with lots of people going through tough times)
  • We focus on what needs improvement, the many things we still have to get done, and all of the “bad stuff” in our lives, about others, and in the world
  • We feel funny about it or get embarrassed expressing our appreciation

While all of these “reasons” make sense and are understandable, they
simply and sadly get in our way of tapping into one of the most powerful
emotions and states of beings we have access to the power of gratitude.

I saw Jack Canfield, author of The Success Principles and
co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, on Larry King Live
a few years ago.  He said that gratitude is the single most important
ingredient to living a successful and fulfilled life. 

Gratitude not only makes us feel good, it’s also one of the greatest
attractors of abundance, love, peace, success, health, connection, and
more.  The more we focus on what we already have, the wonderful aspects of
our lives, and what we appreciate; the more we end up having to be grateful

Stop for a moment right now and
think about some of the things that you’re grateful for in your own life. 
Make a list – either in your head or on paper.  We each have so much. 
When we take the time to acknowledge our many blessings, we utilize the power
of gratitude in a way that benefits us and those around us in a profound way.

gratitude practices

We can expand our capacity for gratitude in our lives by creating simple
and genuine practices.  It doesn’t
really matter what we do or how we do it, just that we come up with easy and
meaningful ways to focus on what we’re grateful for all the time.  Below
is a short list of some different possible gratitude practices.  Pick one,
use many, or choose something else:

  • Write cards or emails expressing your gratitude for others – and do this for no specific reason or occasion
  • Meditate/pray and focus on what you’re grateful for
  • Have everyone at the dinner table share something they’re grateful before you eat (or go around in the car or other times you’re together with your family and play this “grateful game”)
  • Ask people what they’re grateful for (and/or ask this question as part of your outgoing voice mail message)
  • Use a “gratitude journal” and write in it regularly

While so many of us understand and know about the power of gratitude,
it’s the practice and expression of it that really has impact.  When we take the time to think about,
feel, and express our gratitude and appreciation for life, others, and
ourselves – we can literally transform our lives and relationships in a
beautiful way.

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and
the bestselling author of
Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley)
Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info -