"It is necessary, then, to cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude".
~Wallace Wattles

An active, powerful, spiritual practice. It allows us to see and experience things differently when we are open to this. It can shift our perspective much like the practice of forgiveness.
It is an Easy Practice When Things are Going Well.
Perhaps some of us do this at the dinner table or before we eat any meal. Many say prayers of gratitude at Thanksgiving, other meaningful holidays or special family get-togethers. In my childhood family, this was the norm at the holidays. My father always said grace.

Although, giving thanks for what we have in the good times and during holidays is still a wonderful practice it is not particularly life changing or enlightening to do this. Let's face it, when things are going well we are generally happy and can feel grateful.

The Koi Fish

Then there is practicing gratitude for something that has not yet arrived. For two months I knew that I needed to find a good home for my koi, which two were a foot and a half long and valuable. The other two were almost a foot long with unique markings. I was very attached to them and quite frankly, I procrastinated looking for a home. We had a leaking waterfall which we had fixed twice and now it was leaking again; this time it was a much larger leak requiring a good amount of water to be added every other day but we could not see where the problem was coming from. We live in an area where ponds leak due to the extreme weather variables and we had been told by the contractor that the work could not be not guaranteed for this reason. As someone who is also concerned with environmental issues, filling the water so frequently, not to mention the stress on the fish, was not something we could do indefinitely. I put out the word to friends and family first and was somewhat relieved when I didn't have any takers.

Then came the dreaded day; I had spent almost a week saying goodbye to them. You might think how could someone get so attached to fish but I had wanted them since I was a young girl living in Japan. Now I had enjoyed them for almost 5 years and needed to let them go.

I put an ad in Craigslist and started to get many emails. I quickly weeded out the ones who I felt just wanted to re-sell them. Then I emailed the ones that looked promising and told them I had to see their pond first before I would decide. They would also have to take all 4 or it was not a deal. A few people balked at this...they didn't end up with my fish! After checking three different places I found the right home. They transported to their new home fine and have a much larger pond that does not leak.
Practicing Gratitude for Something That Has Not Materialized Yet

Being in the state of gratitude for things that we might want to materialize, yet have not happened, is another part of this practice. I began this practice, which was new to me on December 31, 2010.

As I mentioned, I used it for finding the perfect tenants for the rental and the great home for the koi. It was framed in the positive and in the present tense. "I am so grateful for the wonderful new tenants for our rental home." I am so grateful for the new home for my koi where they have more room, a functional pond and a safe environment." I wrote this for about a month most nights before retiring. Sometimes I would do this in the morning as well. After writing it I would "feel" happy and settled and knew that it had already happened. If I began to stress, which I did at times, I would finally relax after I realized that a much greater power was at work and things were already in motion now.

I have now incorporated this 7month practice into other aspects of my life. Most of the time the events/things materialize. Sometime they do not, but even then, I can feel a sense of gratitude because often what happens seems even better, at least in the long run or when reflecting back.
Practicing Gratitude in All Situations

Another part of this practice, to be grateful no matter what is happening, seems daunting and certainly not as easy. Intellectually, of course, it makes perfect sense. As spiritual beings having a human experience we can understand, intellectually the reasons for gratitude in the most difficult of situations. Especially if we believe, (many of us do) that everything that happens is ultimately for our growth and betterment.

In practice, however, it becomes something we need to work on, sometimes daily. When things go differently than planned it is not always easy to go with the flow. In the DreamBuilder® program Mary speaks about being grateful in a situation, not grateful for a situation and the distinction is huge and can be transforming.

I am reminded of the amazing story of Victor Frankel who survived a number of German concentration/labor camps and went on to live a thriving, productive life. He was stripped of everything, literally and stood naked before the Nazi tribunal as they burned his treasured manuscript of his theories that later became part of a therapy he developed known as Logo therapy. His entire family had been murdered by this time and then the guards noticed a very thin wedding band still on his finger and demanded he remove it. It was in that moment (and other moments of extreme brutality at labor camps) that he realized that he could tap into one of the greatest and last freedoms available to all of us; the freedom to choose how you will think about a situation.
It Was His Defining Moment

Even in that horrible situation he choose to be free and not hate. He was certainly not grateful for the situation, however he was able to shift his perspective and even realize that the guards were more imprisoned than he was. He had found a way to tap into being grateful even in his situation as he was still free to think as he choose to. (If you have not read his classic book, "Man's Search For Meaning" it is an amazing testament to the human spirit and our last great freedom, our ability to choose what we think about)
Enjoy the gift of practicing gratitude in any way you decide. If you choose to practice being grateful in all situations you will be challenged and I can say from experience, not always very skillful or successful. The times that you do however, will become your defining moments and will shift how you look at your life and world. HAPPY PRACTICING!

Author's Bio: 

I am a Certified Life Coach working with professional women who are in the process of becoming entrepreneurs, changing careers or who need support in their current position. I also support individuals with whatever goals or challenges they face. I enjoy working 1:1, but am available for group coaching sessions as well.

My background includes 30 years of combined experience in social work, mediation, counseling and advocacy. In these complimentary careers, I have supported many people with diverse backgrounds and needs. My services are strictly confidential and are held either in my home office or over the phone.

I love helping others reach their goals and re-discover the magic that makes them the unique person they truly are. We are all born with this magic and an understanding of our own inner wisdom. As we “grow up” and stop listening to our own inner voice and start listening to others instead we “forget” how magnificent we truly are. My approach is to listen to you and support you in re-discovering the you that you were meant to be.