Oooh, are you ready for my nerd to come out?
A popular subject among bestselling authors, motivational speakers and successful business leaders is the gift of gratitude. You may even think it's been overdone, perhaps with little merit. But can I just tell you? As simple as it sounds, gratitude can actually be an extremely powerful tool for your health, for manifestation, for successful book writing and so much more!
Have you ever seen the magic of gratitude in action? I’ve noticed that people who operate in gratitude have bigger, kinder energy and are more open to opportunities and collaborations.
Still, you may need more proof to be convinced. This is where my nerd comes out–I love seeing when lived-wisdom, intuition and science meet! While we can certainly feel gratitude’s warmth, let’s also consider the scientifically measurable ways that show why you should use the powerful tool of gratitude daily.
Science of Gratitude
A recent article in Mindful Magazine describes a growing body of research that illustrates multiple positive benefits: healthier immune systems, less anxiety and stronger connections in your relationships!
One such study by Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology at the University of California and an expert in the science of gratitude, measured the network effect of gratitude on a subject’s family and friends. Not surprisingly, a subject’s network reported feeling happier and were more likely to perform acts of compassion and service. Their energy and outward enthusiasm had a net positive effect on the people around them!
Emmons concluded that gratitude has two important aspects. One, gratitude is an affirmation of goodness and two, this goodness is a gift from outside ourselves.
Gratitude as a Gift
Being grateful can amplify our joy and excitement in life. When we take a step back we can see the beauty and wonder in the world. It gives us an amazing opportunity to be conscious and present, providing even more reasons to be grateful. I experienced this firsthand when my first book, Skinhead Confessions: from Hate to Hope, was released.
I was on such a high from working with TJ and being able to accomplish a dream I’d had since I was a little girl–to write and publish a book! Frankly, I didn’t envision that book, which was a miracle in itself–a story of literal transformation. I’ll never forget sitting in my little house on the mountain, in my tiny little office that I loved, and being overcome with sheer gratitude when I received the message from my soon-to-be co-writer Melissa Moore, asking if I could write her book next.
I felt the calling to write her riveting tale vibrate within every cell of my body–although I was scared to death. Yet, despite another difficult topic, I was awestruck and grateful. I had more questions than answers and yet the exact answers I needed to write her book came to me! The trick to keeping the flow of my writing was to continue practicing gratitude. The result? A year later, we published Shattered Silence, which received critical acclaim and international attention.
“People who have the capacity to lean fully into joy have one variable in common: They practice gratitude.” –Brené Brown, PhD.
What Does Practicing Gratitude Look Like?
If gratitude is what allows us to see gifts outside of ourselves, then begin there. Practicing gratitude means living it, letting it permeate every cell. It's like having eyes wide open to the goodness in your life rather than the irritations or limitations.
Now I double dog dare you to take it a step further and incorporate gratitude into your writing.
Don’t know where to start? Tiffany Peterson, my friend and a popular international coach and businesswoman, shared some exceptionally powerful ways you can incorporate gratitude into your life. A practice that she recommends, and that I use often, is a gratitude journal. Writing down what you are actively grateful for tells your brain to seek out more of that! This activates your reticular activating system in your brain–and it will actually start looking for reasons to be grateful–stimulating more opportunities and new ways of thinking.
This is what sparked my writing and kept it flowing while I worked on Melissa’s book. My mind was actively grateful and invited new ways of thinking into my writing.
Keep the Gratitude Flowing Despite Obstacles
Bear in mind, being grateful doesn't mean you're a positive person 100% of the time. Life happens. We get writer’s block. We get annoyed with the kids or a spouse. Or we experience something that takes the wind out of our sails. It’s normal!
When I am in a slump or feel that my relationships are out of whack, it is usually because I have allowed myself to fall out of gratitude. The good news? I remind myself that gratitude is a choice–it’s always there and can be easily reintroduced to better my life and those around me. As shown in Dr. Emmons’ research, if I live in gratitude, my family, friends and clients all benefit from it!
For me, keeping the flow begins first thing in the morning. When I wake up, before I even get out of bed, I thank life for another day. Having nearly died twice in my life, I know this truth: every single day is a gift. Half of the magic is noticing the little things. I’m in a warm, comfortable home while a massive thunderstorm pounds on the roof. I have my husband warm and snug, beside me. I have exciting projects on my plate and amazing new students with stories that are knocking my socks off.
If you can find gratitude in the small things, then you will never miss the big ones.
Using Gratitude as a Writer
Writing can be stressful, solitary, and destination focused, which is why people don’t always get their books completed. It sounds counterintuitive, but when we write stories in a state of gratitude, we find that we become less lonely because others are now involved in positive ways. Your journey becomes full of celebrations at unintended but beautifully miraculous stops along the way. In a state of gratitude, the process of writing a book opens doors and connects you to others. That energy of gratitude is so high and so beautiful, it attracts more abundance, people, and resources into your world.
This is not Pollyanna thinking–it works. Watch for doors that gratitude opens for you. Take it from someone who has chosen to be grateful, practiced it and seen it in action in my own life and with countless other authors. Gratitude works. Make it part of your daily journey as a writer and you will never look back with regret–only forward to more and more celebrations.