Fully accept what already is, and suddenly you have it all. Ralph Marston

One of the biggest hurdles to keeping a consistent attitude of gratitude is our constant desire for something better than what we already have.   Rather than focus on how blessed we are to have what we have and to be where we are, we tend to see what isn’t perfect about our situation and dwell on that, instead.  With thinking like that, we quickly become dissatisfied with things that just a short time ago delighted us.

I see it quite often in my twenty-something daughter.  Last year she relocated to Florida to start over anew.  She had become dissatisfied with her life in South Carolina, and being the good mommy I helped her drive the U-Haul down and gave her my couch to sleep on while she worked it all out.  For a few weeks, she was absolutely thrilled to be out of her previous situation, and had lots of hope for her future.  But soon I began to notice a pattern with her:  first, the couch wasn’t good enough.  “I’m used to my own house, mother.  I can’t sleep  on a couch … I need my own room.”   I gave her half my closet space:  “I can’t fit all my stuff in this tiny closet!”  I gave up my sewing desk so she could have a desk to work at:  “There’s not enough light, and this desk is too small.”  I bought her a truck so she could work, and possibly buy some stuff that would please her:  “I can’t drive a truck this color!”  Well, you get the picture.

I’ve always heard that what frustrates you in someone else is the very thing you need to work on in yourself, so I started paying attention to my own thinking.  And you know what?  I have that same tendency to focus on what isn’t working in my life rather than what is working.  I think we all do to some extent.   In order to overcome that tendency, we need to make a deliberate shift in our thinking.

The Law of Attraction says that whatever we focus on consistently is what we attract into our lives.  If we continue to focus on the aspects of our lives that dissatisfy us, then we are certain to attract more dissatisfaction with our lives.  It’s easy to see this law at work in my daughter, and I’m grateful to her for being such a good teacher of this lesson.  The secret to changing this thought pattern can be found in a technique I learned from Jerry and Esther Hicks in their book The Law of Attraction.  In this book, Abraham teaches that whenever our mind latches on to any topic, we can train ourselves to focus on the positive aspects of that topic, rather than the negative aspects.  It requires us to make a deliberate choice in that moment to look for what is right in any situation.  They call it a “pivoting.”  When you find yourself having a negative thought, stop, then look for a way to see the situation in a positive light.  By doing this, you’ve moved your thinking toward gratitude and away from dissatisfaction, just for that moment.  Trust me, you’ll have to do it over and over again, because your brain will want to gripe about what it doesn’t want, but if you do it consistently, over time, you’ll find yourself being more and more grateful for what you have, and you’ll find that more and more good things are attracted into your life.

Retraining your mind is like playing the piano:  you have to practice deliberately and consistently to make it automatic.  One of the most powerful tools we have for retraining our minds is writing down our thoughts.  Abraham urges us to begin and end each day by keeping what he calls a Book of Positive Aspects.  Every day, write down what is good about your life.  If there is a situation that seems particularly negative, try to find a way to see the positive aspects of that situation, and write them down.  If you make it a habit to do this deliberately and consistently, every day, you will begin to find that you are more and more grateful for your life as it is in the moment, and you will begin to attract more and more good things to be grateful for into your life.

Because I’m always at the computer, I like to keep my Gratitude Journal online at The Attitude of Gratitude Project.  Join me there.  It’s pleasing for me to begin and end each day sharing my grateful thoughts with others, and reading what other people are grateful for.  What are you grateful for today?