When we are struggling to overcome a chronic illness or chronic pain, our lives become very focused on what is wrong, and the steps we need to take in order to recover. Our lives may consist of appointments with doctors, specialists, therapists, and various practitioners. In fact, we may feel as though the life we once knew has vanished, or at the very most, been put on hold. Our conversations and our thoughts revolve around how we're going to make it through the next week, month or year and what we need to do in order to make it as smooth as possible. In short, illness and pain take over our lives.

All of this is frustrating, demoralising, and overwhelming and leads us to feel helpless and hopeless. There really doesn't seem to be much to be thankful for when everything seems so bleak and painful.

However, if we are able to make time in our day to notice a few things for which we are thankful, or grateful, it can lead to a whole new perspective as our energy shifts and we start thinking differently.

When I was bed-bound with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), I lived in a ground floor apartment, which looked out on my parent's walled garden. My mother is a great gardener, so it was a beautiful setting always full of birds. Despite the brain fog, physical pain and exhaustion I experienced every morning when I woke up, I made a point of sitting up in bed and looking out of the window and noticing the vibrant colours.

I'm ashamed to admit that until then, I'd never really taken the time to admire the colour of the leaves and flowers, or how Mum had built and structured the garden, which had been covered in ugly concrete when they moved in to the house. Being seriously ill means everything slows down, and it also meant I had an opportunity to notice things I had once rushed by because I was too "busy". I felt very grateful to have the time to acknowledge nature in that garden. Looking out on it, even when it was pouring with rain, somehow lifted me.

I took it another stage further as well: although much of my body was in crisis and suffering, I acknowledged with gratitude that I had healthy eyes with which to enjoy the garden, and I gave thanks that I was in a nurturing and caring environment, living downstairs from my parents in a place in which I could heal. It's amazing how, because of my new focus, the whole day then changed and became easier and smoother.

The practice of gratitude as a tool for happiness has been in the mainstream for years. Long-term studies support gratitude's effectiveness, suggesting that a positive, appreciative attitude contributes to greater success in work, greater health, peak performance in sports and business, a higher sense of well-being, and a faster rate of recovery from surgery.

However, while we may acknowledge gratitude's many benefits, it still can be difficult to sustain a thankful mindset. Often, we are conditioned to notice what is broken, undone or lacking in our lives. And for gratitude to meet its full healing potential, we have to learn a new way of looking at things, a new habit which can take some time.

That's why practicing gratitude is so important. When we practice giving thanks for what we do have, we give ourselves the chance to see all of life as an opportunity.

Gratitude isn't a blindly optimistic approach, in which the painful and limiting things in our lives are ignored. It's more a matter of where we put our focus and attention. There may often be things going on in our lives which we would rather not be part of, but when we focus on the gifts of life, our energy shifts and with it, our perspective. Gratitude balances us and gives us hope.

When I work with clients, I like to end the session with what I call "Gratitude Tapping". We do this once we have cleared all the fears, limiting beliefs and painful memories through using EFT. Then we tap each point and acknowledge things for which the client is grateful. This can be challenging at first, but what is being acknowledged doesn't have to be monumental - it can be as small as being grateful for the sunny day outside, the comfort of the sweater we're wearing, or tolerating a certain food yesterday for the first time in a while. As the client starts this process, they may find it hard to think of things but through tapping on the meridian points at the same time, the negative energy blocks are being cleared which allows different ideas and thoughts to come up more easily. It soon becomes natural to state what we're grateful for as we tap. In my opinion, tapping as we acknowledge what we're grateful for is a very powerful combination.

Here are some ways I encourage my clients to express gratitude:

• Gratitude tap when you wake up. Phrases may include:
- I'm grateful for the wonderful night's sleep I had
- I'm grateful I was able to sleep more than __ hours
- I'm grateful it's a sunny day
- I'm grateful I can [list what you'll be doing] today

• Gratitude tap when you go to bed. Phrases may include:
- I'm grateful I had the energy to do ___________ today
- I'm grateful I saw ___________
- I'm grateful I heard ____________
- I'm grateful my body is doing its best

• Keep a gratitude journal in which you list things for which you are thankful. You can write it every night before you go to bed. Greater frequency may be better for creating a new habit, but just keeping that journal where you can see it will remind you to think in a grateful way.

• When you feel like complaining, make a gratitude list instead. You may be amazed by how much better you feel.

• Notice how gratitude is impacting your life. Write about it, sing about it, and express thanks for gratitude.

As you practice, an inner shift begins to occur, and you may be delighted to discover how content and hopeful you are feeling. That sense of fulfillment is gratitude at work and is vital in the healing process.

Author's Bio: 

Annabel Fisher was introduced to EFT when seriously ill with M.E. (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). She was wheel chair bound, completely exhausted and in constant muscle and joint pain. She began using it regularly and had some really positive results: she had reduced her chronic pain by 60% in 4 months and by 100% within 6 months. Annabel used EFT effectively on other symptoms including digestive disorders, insomnia, light and noise sensitivities, depression and anxiety. She was astounded by EFT's simplicity and effectiveness. Feeling passionate about EFT, it seemed a natural step to qualify as an EFT Practitioner and later as an EFT Trainer, drawing on her teaching background.

Since discovering EFT, she has been treated by Gary Craig (the founder of EFT) and received advanced training from him in England and America. She has also received specific training from various EFT Masters in the UK and USA. In Cornwall, England, Annabel had a successful EFT practice and ran regular training courses before moving to BC, Canada in 2006. She now combines EFT and Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) in her practice, seeing clients privately and working over the phone. She leads regular EFT workshops and teleseminars, plus training programmes which qualify individuals to become EFT Practitioners. She specialises in: * Coping with serious illness and chronic pain * Overcoming stress and overwhelm * Increasing self worth, confidence and the motivation to recover * Reaching your fullest potential * Leading EFT Workshops and Practitioner Training Discover the power of EFT with The Essentials of EFT Guide and a one-hour EFT Q&A audio recording, all yours absolutely free by visiting http://www.theEFTHealingCentre.com or calling 1-888-206-8426 (toll free)