Become Successful by Cultivating Gratitude

06/22/2015 03:33 pm ET | Updated Jun 22, 2016
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Life is a continual balance of good days and bad days. On a good day, you're on top of your game, the master of your domain, patting yourself on the back for a job well done. On a bad day, everything feels like a struggle: your one-year-old refuses to eat his lunch, has a full-blown meltdown at the supermarket and now you're behind on deadlines and the house is a disaster. When you're riding the emotional roller-coaster, one thing that can keep you motivated and fills your proverbial cup is gratitude.

What Happens When We're Grateful
Gratitude is the simple act of acknowledging and appreciating the positive things in the world. There are studies showing that the practice of increasing gratitude improves the wellbeing of a person. Let's be honest, stress and anxiety are a part of adulthood. People experiencing burnout in their work and/or home life tend to suck the life out of the room. They are short-tempered, cranky and make poor decisions. You know somebody like that, right? When we're in this state, the enormity of everything that sucks in life is overwhelming. Disappointment and depression can have a damning effect on life and feeds the feeling that the circumstances will never improve.

On the other hand, gratitude provides space for reflection and honesty. It only takes moments in a day but can become a powerful and empowering practice. This act of reflecting on gratitude is a practice; one that allows us to articulate the abundance in life. With some regularity and formation of a habit, it becomes stronger, with the potential to have a profound impact on life. Gratitude makes room in your heart and in your life for possibilities by channeling the positive energy of what is rather than focusing on what isn't.

In a psychological experiment, a group was asked to journal one sentence a week over the course of several months about what in life made them feel grateful. After just two months, there were significant effects. As compared to the control group that wasn't instructed to do any journaling, those who kept their gratitude journals were found to be more optimistic, happier, and experienced fewer physical problems.

Practicing gratitude shifts the focus away from what you lack and other negative feelings... By shifting away from mentality of "I don't have" to a mindset of abundance, over time, those around you will see a significant change in your overall energy. You become a grateful, humble and positive person that invites joy, openness and possibilities.

How Gratitude Invites Success
It seems like elementary advice to hear somebody say "be grateful and you'll become successful." Experiencing gratitude positively impacts your mental and emotional state. It makes you happier. In turn, these optimistic characteristics support a positive mindset that fuel your ability to achieve goals and pursue an "ideal life." It's about changing the way that you think and relate to the world.

People who see the world with a sense of gratitude are vividly aware of the positive impacts and abundances in life. It's a cyclical process -- they enjoy success and are able to seek more success. When these people are faced with failure, instead of taking it out on the world or taking it personally, they're able to put failure into perspective and learn from the experience. Gratitude allows us to view failure as an opportunity to reflect and learn valuable lessons. Instead of wallowing in failure, successful leaders use learned lessons as stepping stones for further success.

Many leaders who are considered successful in their fields indicate that reflecting on gratitude is part of their daily process. Arianna Huffington, Tony Robbins, Elizabeth Banks and Julianne Hough reflect on what they are grateful for as part of their daily routines. These leaders are magnetic people who inspire others and attract people who want a taste of their success.

Practice Gratitude in Your Daily Routine

Get in touch with your gratitude! Take time to be thankful for what you do have instead of what you wish you had. It could be an incident that allowed you to avoid a bad consequence. It could be a compliment on your new outfit that you were debating about returning. It could be the resources and things that you have at your disposal to make your life work the way it does. It could be a great experience from the weekend. Try to come up with three things or instances that make you feel grateful. Ideally, you would weave this into your daily routine and create a time to reflect, not just during a particular November holiday.

Ways to practice gratitude:

  • Share the highlights from your day with your partner or children.
  • Start or end your day by journaling 3 things that make you feel grateful.
  • Verbalize your gratitude when you experience it. Make "thank you" or "I appreciate ____ about you," a common part of your communication.
  • Focus on what went well this week.
  • Reflect on your family and friends who you cherish.
  • Make a list of the things that make you feel fortunate. These "things" can be tangible objects (like a house or a computer,) or other attributes or activities that we take for granted (like being able to see or being able to be with a friend in need).
  • Stop and smell the roses. Practice being present and appreciate the environment around you.
  • Get out of your normal environment by going outside or to an unfamiliar place to think. Try a museum or a park. Changing the physical environment can have a profound impact on our thought patterns.

Let me know in the comments, how can you practice gratitude in your daily life? How do you think it will help you on your journey to success?