"Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness. It's the spark that lights a fire of joy in your soul."

~Amy Collette

What’s all this talk about gratitude? It’s EVERYWHERE— social media, inspirational posts, in guided meditations. Gift shops sell gratitude journals and gratitude jars. If there’s a short list of best practices for your biggest life, a gratitude practice belongs on it.

Why is gratitude so popular?

Do you wonder why, in time of material affluence, people are walking around feeling unfulfilled? Why even when we can order a meal or a pair of pants, delivered to our door, from our couch, many people feel like life’s a struggle and they want more?

If you’re not feeling as happy, as you think you should be, start by asking yourself if you’re feeling disconnected. By plugging in and being connected to so many things outside of ourselves, the internet, social media, etc., we’ve become disconnected from what’s within. It’s in connectedness that the true sources of fulfillment lie.

Even if you’re not a “keep up with the Joneses” type, you’re human. Which means you’ve probably done the “How am I doing?” thing, comparing your life to others. We are barraged these days by images of perfection. When we look at the whole picture, not the edited down, cropped and filtered picture posted on our friends’ social media feeds, we see that life isn’t perfect for anyone, and yet we continuously strive for perfection. That’s enough to suck the joy and productive energy out of any of us.

If you:

Have a history of low or blue moods, whether a full depression or not,

Wallow in the past, dwell on old hurts

Have gone through a crisis and are asking “Why Me?”

Notice yourself in the comparison game, thinking (incorrectly) that everyone else has it better,

…then the practice of gratitude is a must.

Telling yourself regularly, with a double dose at times when you’re down, the blessings in your life…good physical health, a loving family, great friends, satisfying work, the freedom of where to work or live— is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. Becoming connected will light you up, reminding you of what is good in your life and is one of the most powerful mood-boosting actions you can take.

A regular gratitude practice:

Gives you direct access to what matters to you. Which gets you focused on what to attend to.

Gives you perspective…quickly. Think of it as a fast-acting, readily-accessible anti-depressant. If you are seeing a professional for mood issues, a gratitude practice should be at the top of your prescription.

Can turn a crummy day around so quickly.

Can make an “okay, so-so” day great.

How does it work?

When you connect to the good in your life, you access the power to maximize the joy you experience. Think about that for a second. You can experience greater happiness simply by what you CHOOSE to think about. That is HUGE. It builds perspective. Focusing on what you’re grateful for, the sources of the good in your life requires you to be present. It puts the focus on what you DO have, rather than on what you DON’T.

Gratitude isn’t a miracle cure-all; your dream life won’t fall into your lap overnight. But when you consciously enter into a state of grace; when you connect with all the good, the blessings, with what’s “working” in your life, you will connect with what’s possible. When a person lives in a grateful mindset, they are creating a mindset of abundance. That gives you access to the energy and creativity you can use to work on the things in your life that you haven’t achieved yet. Imagine the power you’ll bring to your life, when you remind yourself: “I’ve already created all of this. So I know I can be successful at going after my other dreams”? It’s pretty powerful stuff.

Getting Started:

1. Commit to doing it every day to start. No matter what. And you can do it in just a few minutes.

2. Pick a method: whether it’s saying it to yourself, writing in a journal, or writing on slips of paper and placing them in a jar.

3. Choose a time of day to practice. Doing the same time each day helps to develop the habit.

4. And if none of these are working for you, don’t worry. We all have our way of expressing gratitude; you’ll find yours!

Remember, you control your mindset; you control how external influences affect your overall well-being. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a moment to check in with yourself. What are you grateful for in this moment, or this day? Take a breath, enjoy that moment. And remind yourself of all that is good.

By Dr. Lee Odescalchi

Author's Bio: 

Lee Odescalchi is a coach and licensed psychologist. She has coached and counseled clients, just like you, looking for more fulfilling lives. Her unique approach uses the most effective methods of personal development and performance strategies. She does this while addressing issues from the past that have led to self-limiting beliefs that get in the way of your success. Lee also empowers people to “get out of their own way” and maximize their strengths so they can produce extraordinary results… in any area of their life.