This week in The Brain BS™ Blog and Podcast we are going to explore the concept of gratitude and why it should be a priority on Thanksgiving Day as well as every other day of the year. We will discuss how this is available to us no matter what is going on and take a look at how it ties into the Universal Law of Polarity and the need for us to stay in our center of self-awareness. I will illustrate these points by sharing a few scenarios where practicing gratitude transformed tough challenges for me into gifts and opportunities for personal growth.
Okay, so let’s begin with why gratitude is essential for any sort of professional or personal success in this world. According to David Neagle, gratitude is the most important tool in our arsenal for creating what it is we want in life. The reason for that is because it can help us to transform what we perceive to be really bad situations and gives us a new way of looking at them. This goes back to what I refer to frequently in my blog and podcast that I learned from Brooke Castillo. Circumstances are always neutral until we think about them. The thoughts we give them determine their meaning, which triggers a feeling, that leads to actions and gives us our results. We forget that no situation or person is bad until we have a thought about them. We forget that thoughts are optional and there is always another way to look at something. While Thanksgiving is a wonderful day that highlights that there is always a silver lining in everything, why would we limit ourselves to practicing that way of thinking only one day of the year? Neagle says we should be grateful for everything all year round because that give us options and is the secret to life and success.
Now that we have established why it is important to be grateful all year round and not just one day, let’s look at how it is related to the Law of Polarity. This law dictates that everything in the Universe has both good and bad and they are equal. We don’t always see this because when we are out of our self-awareness, we can only see one side of the situation. Politics is a great example of this! Half the country is determined that their political party is the best one and then they only focus on the positive in their party. If you try to speak to somebody who is far left or far right, they are not willing to acknowledge any flaws to their way of thinking, but they are happy to point out the opposition’s downfalls. They are totally committed to their one side of looking at the situation and deny that there is even another option available to them. They are basically looking at life with an all or nothing perspective which happens when we are out of alignment. Leaning way to the left or right prevents us from seeing things objectively and with an open mind.
This brings me to my next point, which is that we need to be in our center of self-awareness in order to reframe the way we are looking at situations and people. We cannot practice gratitude unless we can see the whole picture and are open to all of the possibilities. For instance, we might be in the midst of an emotional crisis because we lost somebody unexpectedly and completely focused on the thought that it should not have happened and that something has gone wrong. Even though we know the Universe does not make mistakes and there is no such thing as shoulds or woulds, our subconscious will most likely have trouble seeing both the good and bad when we are so triggered and in pain. This is why it requires us to make a conscious effort to reframe the way we are looking at it and find the gift in it. It could be that we decide to be grateful that the person did not have to endure prolonged suffering that might have taken place if they survived. It could be that we decide to be grateful for our own health and that we are still alive. It could be that we choose to be grateful that it was not somebody whose death might have had an even bigger negative impact on us. Whatever it is and no matter how bad it is, the Law of Polarity dictates that we always have the option to look at it in a different way that can serve us better. The only way that is accessible to us is if we can get realigned with our center of self-awareness and purposely focus on different thoughts.
Let’s look a couple scenarios now where I was able to reframe a situation that was not working for me and transform it into something beneficial. I have always hated technology and feared it. I did anything I could do avoid it and was never open to learning more about it. I literally thought it was factual that I could never become efficient with it and that led to feelings of inadequacy and a sense of why bother. As a result, when I decided to go for my doctorate in occupational therapy my choices were severely limited because I had to attend a school in person and there was only one in the area. At the time, I determined that an online program was out of the question because of the technology involved. As a result, I chose to go to the only local school in the city and it turned out to be a really negative experience for me. I did not click with the mentor assigned to me and I hated driving to the city at night and trying to find parking in a pretty sketchy area of town. In fact, the experience was so negative, that I had to acknowledge that I made a bad choice and quit before the end of the semester was over.
Now I could have just shut down the idea of school and continued to stay safe in mediocrity and comfort, but I decided to do the complete opposite. It started with looking at what I gained from doing that local program, instead of focusing on what did not work out. I was grateful that I finally got comfortable making the commute to the city which was a goal of mine for some time. I was also grateful that I started to dip my toes into technology and was able to get a little more comfortable with being uncomfortable. Most importantly, I felt gratitude that I was able to make a pivot and not fall apart because I was so worried other people might think I was a failure for quitting. Those thoughts of gratitude led to me taking actions that I once thought were not an option for me. Instead of giving up, I went out and bought myself a Mac and signed up with St. Catherine’s to complete their 3-year online program. The only thing that had changed was my attitude and willingness to do whatever it took to be successful. It did not matter that I showed up at orientation and did not even know how to turn on my laptop because I decided to trust the process.
Alright, let’s piggyback on that last example with another one that was equally life changing for me and related to getting my online doctorate. When I first started my business, it was as an eldercare consultant who would assess the safety and functional levels of older adults in their home environment. Right after I purchased my domain, established my LLC, created a website, and received all of my marketing materials, Covid-19 hit and put an end to all of it. I could have gotten pretty discouraged and given up at that point and nobody would have judged me for it. I believe I had a bit of a pity party for myself (and the rest of the world!) but it was brief. I have always thought that everything happens for a reason, and nothing is by chance. With that in mind, I was inspired to turn toward gratitude. After years of being computer illiterate, I was beyond grateful that I ended up in that online doctorate program because it gave me the skills and foundation I needed to pursue the possibility of an online business in the nick of time before the world shut down.
Lo and behold, it was right around that time, that I heard about The Life Coach School and decided to get certified as a life coach and participate in their entrepreneur program that teaches you how to create an online coaching business. Whenever we are able to see the whole picture and stay in gratitude and our center of self-awareness, the solution will present itself and be visible to us. Had I continued to feel sorry for myself or dwell in negativity over money and time lost with my previous business, I would have not made the pivot to become a life coach, which is my true purpose. Turns out that technology, one of my biggest fears in life, was actually my ticket to amazing personal growth and an online coaching business that I love! I spent the majority of my life running away from something that I needed in order to achieve my biggest desire. Go figure. It is always a sure sign you are headed in the right direction if you are resistant and full of fear!
In conclusion, we cannot just wait for Thanksgiving each year to practice gratitude. We have to practice it on a daily basis because it is the secret to living a successful life. The Universal Law of Polarity dictates that no matter how bad a situation or person may appear, there is always another way to look at them in an equally good way. The only way to do that however, is if we practice gratitude and stay centered in our self-awareness. This requires us to purposely choose thoughts that inspire us to take action to get the results we desire. Join me in The Brain BS™ Podcast to discuss this further.