Our Life Filters
Do you know how lucky you are?
Most of us aren’t in the habit of counting our lucky stars, as it were.
It’s not that we never see what gifts are provided for us as we journey through life, but we often look at what we don’t have, rather than what we do have. As we go through our days, we frequently react to what we think is missing in our relationships, at work, with friends and family and even within ourselves.
Our basic point of view about life is typically sifted through what I call the “not good enough” filter, so our lives never feel truly satisfying or fulfilling. However, this is only a point of view and as such, it can be changed. We can practice seeing life through what I call the “gratitude” filter.
The gratitude filter shows us all that we truly have in life, that we are lacking nothing. When we realize that nothing is missing, we can relax and enjoy life, as it was meant to be. Gratitude provides a life for us that is filled with peace, happiness and even good health. The fact is we are the ones with the power to change our filters!
Possessed by Possessions
Why do we easily forget the true gifts in our life? The answer is training and habit. We got a little lost along the path of humanity and started thinking there was something wrong with us. This model of thinking has been handed down for generations and it makes us feel as though we need things in order to be accepted in life – by others and by ourselves. Fortunately, this is not a true assessment of life, but we have forgotten that.
Instead of an easy, peaceful life, we work hard to accumulate material items, educational degrees, job titles, people and whatever else we think makes us better than what we were taught we are. It’s hard on us living this way which is why we are so stressed out, burned out and sick!
The fact is there is nothing wrong with having things in our lives as long as we don’t make the mistake of thinking that what we accumulate makes us better than others, important and happy.
We are all equal and we are all equally important. And stuff can never truly make us happy. Happiness comes from within us, not outside of us and focusing on gratitude can help us reconnect with this ancient truth.
I noticed recently how many times the slogan “must have” is used in advertising. The general message is there is some “thing” out there that we must have in order to be whole or to keep up with everyone else and not get left behind. It’s exhausting. The amazing thing is we buy into this every time it’s placed in front of us. We rush out to get the latest and greatest item or experience only to find that tomorrow there is another must have that we need to acquire. No matter how much stuff we accumulate, the “not good enough filter” always leaves us wanting more. This is a stressful and dissatisfying was to live. We live in a world where the thing is king and we are its servants. We have become slaves to what we think we need to possess in order to be acceptable.
Gratitude Connects Us to a Better Life
Gratitude is a magnificent way to connect us to who we truly are and stop the cycle of accumulation. If that isn’t enough, practicing gratitude enhances our lives in every way. When we focus on using gratitude as our filter for life, we experience more joy, improved relationships and have a happier, healthier life. Additionally, negativity is reduced, concentration and motivation are improved and we get more of what we want in life rather than what we don’t want. The bonus is that we are not persuaded by advertising that sells us an idea of who we will be if we buy something, so we can buy what we genuinely want and use the rest of our money for something else!
Being grateful isn’t an opportunity to count all of our material items. On the contrary, it’s an opportunity to be grateful for all that we have that isn’t material. If you are reading this, you woke up this morning and are breathing. That is something to be grateful for since there is no guarantee that we will wake up each day. Why not practice being thankful for the simple things in life .¨ each breath you take, the sun and the rain, nature, fresh running water and good health for starters. With gratitude as your focus, your day will be better right out of the gate!
“Please” and “thank you” are keys to healthy relationships of all kinds. Practice being kind when you ask for help and being grateful when you receive it. These may seem silly and elementary, but words like “please” and “thank you” are powerful connectors to joy and happiness. Once you get in the habit of saying things like this more often, you will find gratitude automatically expanding in other areas of your life like a wave. Watch to see what beauty shows up for you!
We have heard about the laws of attraction .¨ what you put out in the world is what you get back. What we put out in the world are our thoughts and what follows are our actions based on those thoughts. If our thoughts are sifted through the “not good enough” filter, that’s what life will look like and feel like to us. However, the same is true with the “gratitude” filter. When we sift our daily life experiences through thoughts of gratitude, we will get gratitude back. It may not happen every time, but it will happen more often. This brings relief, connectedness, joy and improved health. Who doesn’t want more of that?
Gratitude is an antidote for negativity. It is hard to be negative when you are being thankful. We have been taught that sometimes there is nothing to be thankful for, but that is not true. If we practice being grateful for simple things in life, you will begin to apply gratitude to big things, challenging things and even sad things. The old saying, “There’s a silver lining in every cloud” is true.
Make All of Your Dreams Come True
When we get in the habit of being grateful, we aren’t eating up our days making up things to feel bad about. We can actually concentrate on the task at hand and complete it faster and better. This frees up more of our time for relaxation and enjoyment. That, in and of itself, is motivating for us. When we are motivated, we can do all of the things that we always wanted to do but kept putting off for one reason or another. Imagine the motivation to get in shape, start that home project that has been eating away at you or take those piano lessons you always wanted to take. It is never too late to make your dreams come true. Gratitude is the fuel that can get you there and the gratitude filter helps us see and live life as it really is: abundant and unlimited.
How can you use the power of gratitude in your life? It’s very simple. There are many ways, but you may start with some of the following suggestions:
1. Each morning when you wake or each evening before you close your eyes, get a journal and make a list of 3 things you are grateful for in your life. Of course, you can do this exercise any time of the day and don’t feel you have to stop at 3 things if you think of more. Initially, it may seem like a struggle to come up with 3 things, but as you practice this exercise you will find that, in a short time, you will easily come up with a list a mile long!
2. When a difficult situation occurs, take a moment out of the drama and chaos of it all and see if you can find one good thing about what is happening. This will be something you can be grateful for. As you practice doing this, it will become automatic and you will find yourself handling anything that comes your way with less drama, less uncertainty and less stress. This helps you stay healthier, too!
3. When you say something about someone or yourself that is negative, immediately say something that is nice about this person. This is something you can also be grateful for. As you practice this you will get used to seeing the good in others and yourself. It is always there, we just need to remember to see it!
Being grateful isn’t just for kids; it’s for all of us. In the past, many of us have been grateful because we thought it was the “right” thing to do or because our parents told us to. What we didn’t know was that gratitude has the power to positively shape our life experiences every day. However, being grateful is a choice –
a choice that we all must make if we are going to break free from the old model of thinking that we have been taught. The benefits of being grateful are infinite. Each day you practice choosing gratitude as your filter for life, the better life feels. Get used to watching all of your dreams come true. You deserve nothing less.
I’m grateful for the time you have taken to read this article. Thank you.