by Karen Sehgal
Giving thanks can change your life
Giving thanks is more than just a simple act . . . in fact it holds enormous power.
As you’ll soon discover, by making the word “thank you” have more meaning in your life, you can transform your day, your world . . . your life.
But this is nothing new. In fact, to begin explaining what I mean, let’s start with a very old story. You’re probably already familiar with this fable already. But read it carefully. These old tales hold lots of wisdom . . .
The Dog And The Cheese (Adapted From Aesop’s Fables)
While traveling along a road, a dog found a delicious chunk of fresh cheese. Hardly believing his luck, the dog looked up and down the road before he snatched it up in his mouth and trotted off to find a good place to enjoy his feast.
Along his way he passed over a bridge that crossed a smooth, gentle river. The water was so calm it reflected the world above it like a looking glass.
The dog stopped in the middle of the bridge and looked over. And lo and behold, staring up at him was a dog with what looked like a bigger chunk of cheese in his mouth.
“Whoa,” thought the dog, “I would be a fool not to try to get that cheese as well. In fact it looks bigger than the one I have right now.”
So the dog growled at the dog he saw below him, hoping to intimidate him out of his cheese. But the dog looking up at him just growled back.
He tried again, this time with an even more threatening growl. But again, the other dog didn’t budge and only growled right back at him.
So anxious was the dog to get this second chunk of cheese that after the growling didn’t work, he opened up his jaws to let out a ferocious bark.
And as he opened his mouth, the chunk of cheese fell into the river below. And with a splash, the cheese - along with the second dog and the cheese below - disappeared from sight.
When We Don’t Give Thanks We Risk Losing The Good Things In Life
Now we can all laugh at the dog’s outrageous behavior. But let’s turn this story back on ourselves . . .
How many times have you gotten so focused on something you want that you forget what you have already . . . and risk losing it as a result?
How many times do you get preoccupied with working longer and harder to increase your pay . . . or bemoaning that you don’t fit into a size 4 jeans . . .
Only to lose track of your family, warm home and good health?
We all do this. It’s human nature. And there’s nothing wrong with aspiring to greater heights or working towards goals.
The problem arises when our ambitions start to undermine our current wellbeing and wealth.
On the flipside, when we shift our attention to being thankful for what we have, interestingly enough, it gives us a tremendous boost in getting closer to our goals in life.
Why Gratitude Gives You So Much
For years I’ve used a gratefulness meditation technique to help me through rough times. We get what we focus on! Focus on gratitude and the universe provides you with more to be grateful for.
It is the law of nature explained by quantum physics. And I’m always amazed at how powerful it is. I’ve come to realize how it shifts my mindset in some very strategic ways . . .
• First, being grateful shifts our focus to what is good in our life and consequently tunes our brain into working to sustain and add to this good stuff.
See our brain is a funny thing. Our actions are directed by not only our conscious self but also the unconscious self tucked in underneath. When your perspective is tuned into this “good life radio station”, you focus your actions towards positive things in your life. You end up being more alert to opportunities, more confident about seizing them, and more capable of executing what you need to do to make the most of them.
• Secondly, giving thanks gives us energy – lots of it.
When your focus is on the worries and frustrations in your life, you can’t help but feel dragged down. That kind of stress just eats away at your consciousness. Life is tough enough as it is. You can’t afford to waste energy on the negative stuff.
But let me be clear, this is not about being naively optimistic. Sure, you need to acknowledge the problems in your life. How else can you fix them? But instead of dwelling on the problems, focus your energy on the solution and all the tools and strengths you have to take care of them.
Be grateful now! The quality of this moment predicts your future.
• Thirdly, it helps us stop making mountains out of mole hills.
Most of us live with exceptional comfort, safety and opportunity. Sure, the problems in our lives are legitimate problems. But we often dramatize challenges that maybe aren’t worth all the fuss.
When you start counting your blessings, most of our problems start to shrink down to size.
And you can even take this to another level . . .
Try being grateful for your challenges. You would be stagnant and bored without them. Your challenges build character. See them as opportunities to learn and grow. Practice deep radical acceptance of your challenges, enemies and your current life situation. The truth will set you free!
Interestingly enough, this – in turn – can change you physically in some dramatic ways. Because, finally, when you chase stress away with gratefulness . . .
• Being thankful can keep you healthy
See, these sources of anxiety hang over you like an itchy cloud. The stress they bring on can damage your health. Stress can handicap your immune system, tax your heart, even mess with your blood sugar metabolism.
However, simply by shifting your perspective by reminding yourself what you’re grateful for, you’ll feel that itchy cloud of stress starting to lift away. And as you cut the strings holding that cloud over you by giving thanks, you help yourself physically.
You may end up boosting your immune system, fortifying your heart and bringing your blood sugar levels back in balance. Amazing as it may sound, simply by being grateful, you may save your own life.
That dog in the story was lucky to have found a nice chunk of cheese. But he lost it when he forgot how fortunate he was with his fixation on getting more.
It’s a powerful reminder to us all: The universe presents us with beautiful chunks of cheese all the time. But too often we overlook them, diminish their value and lose them in our pursuit of more.
Don’t lose the good stuff in your life, because you forgot how good you have it. Give thanks and gain from it.
About Karen Sehgal
Karen Sehgal has spent her life dedicated to the study of the mind, body and spirit. She currently owns and teaches Pilates at her Pilates studio, Joy of Movement, located in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, and is also the owner of Joy of Wellness Retreats. She shares her love, joy, and spirituality by teaching Yoga at Harmony Yoga in Redondo Beach, CA. Karen is also an esteemed member of the Sun Chlorella Advisory Board.
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