What happens when you start being thankful?
We’ve talked about a lot of negative things so far: the pit of despair, the worst thing that’s ever happened to you, overcoming our own resistance to thankfulness, and being treated badly by others who can’t handle it when we start to be thankful for everything.
All of that is realistic. It’s stuff that has to be dealt with. But it’s a lot of gloom and doom.
Why spend so much time, energy and effort focusing on thankfulness if it’s not going to produce any positive results in our lives, anyway… right?
If you’ve stayed with me so far you know and believe, deep down in your heart, that being thankful for everything IS going to make life better.
It’s going to transform the worst thing that’s ever happened to you into a blessing (even if takes some time and hard work to see it that way).
It’s going to help you move out of the pit of despair and… eventually… reach the pinnacle of bliss.
Being thankful for everything is going to help you overcome your own resistance to life’s blessings and gifts, and it’s going to transform those grouchy people you encounter in daily life, into thankful and appreciative acquaintances, family members, colleagues, friends, and fans.
So when do we get to the good stuff?
Right now. The good stuff starts here.
So let’s get to it.
What are the benefits of being thankful for everything?
In the chapters that follow, we will look at the benefits from an evidence-based point of view.
We will explore the evidence from the world’s scriptures… not just from one religion, but from many.
And we will also explore the findings of scientific research, on the benefits of thankfulness.
But for now, let’s start with a different kind of evidence: the evidence from personal experience.
Since I’ve got the floor right now, I’ll start by sharing my personal experience. But I don’t want to be the only one talking here. Evidence from one person is not enough to make a case, after all. And more than that, what really counts is not what thankfulness has done for ME…it’s what thankfulness has done, is doing, and hopefully WILL do… for YOU.
So we will be exploring the evidence from YOUR personal experience, as to the benefits of thankfulness, at the end of this blog post.
For now, here are the benefits I’ve experienced since I started focusing on being thankful for everything:
1. I feel better.
That’s the main point, isn’t it? I mean, if you’ve been following this blog from the beginning, you know that there was really nowhere for me to go, but up. I came to the practice of thankfulness because all else had failed… all roads in my life were blocked, nothing was working, and I was out of options and ideas.
Focusing on being thankful for everything was not MY idea… it was God’s.
I came to God on my knees, humbled and floored after trying everything for the past seven years to move my life forward in a good direction. If you want to read all about it, it’s all here in my earlier blog posts. The point I want to make now, is that once I started focusing on being THANKFUL, I started to feel better.
Instead of feeling like a victim, I started to feel like a survivor… or even, a hero.
Instead of feeling that the universe was treating me with random and meaningless cruelty, I started to notice the blessings and gifts in all my life experiences.
If that were the only benefit of feeling thankful for everything, that would be enough right there, wouldn’t it?
But wait… (as they say)… there’s more!
2. Not only did I feel better emotionally about life in general, but I started to experience everything in a more positive way. I started to enjoy the little things more. I started to live more intensely.
For example, when I went to the supermarket, I noticed that the red peppers are really RED. Not just an ordinary dull blah red, but a magnificent pulsating crimson. Not only was there red, but orange, and yellow and green. The peppers were BEAUTIFUL. And I was thankful for them.
Although I have no personal experience of taking them, I’ve heard that there are medications that make one feel this way. One’s senses become deepened. One experiences everything in a more intense and pleasurable way.
I’ve never taken any of those medications. But what I discovered from personal experience is that being thankful for everything produces that effect, WITHOUT medication of any kind.
How does that work?
I’m not a scientist (but I play one on TV…). No I don’t. I just wanted to say that line.
I’m not a scientist, but here’s my hypothesis about how that works:
When we experience deep pleasure, we feel thankful. It’s a natural reaction. Feeling deep pleasure, and feeling deeply thankful, are linked.
What’s interesting is that the link seems to work in the opposite direction too.
If you start by feeling deeply thankful, and keep working at it for an extended period of time, eventually the feeling of deep pleasure kicks in…. without the need for medication or mood altering substances of any kind.
I think this may be part of the reason why some people have been reacting negatively to me as I have gotten deeper into my practice of thankfulness.
Maybe they are wondering, “What the heck is she ON?” (Lol!)
Or perhaps (more likely), they are just annoyed by my persistent HAPPINESS… because it IS annoying to be exposed to cheerful, happy people when you are feeling like crap, yourself.
So let’s talk about that for a minute, because that leads to the third benefit I’ve experienced from being thankful for everything.
3. You realize how good your life is, and how much you truly have to be thankful for.
The other day as I was parking my car, I noticed a young couple walking past on the way to their car. “Good morning, neighbors!” I said cheerily. They continued walking past, looking very grouchy. There was no response. Figuring they hadn’t heard me, I chirped out again, “Good morning! How are you today?” “FINE!” they responded, angrily, as they continued on their way.
No. They were not fine. Something was clearly very wrong.
I don’t know these folks, and based on that interaction, I won’t impose my burdensome cheerfulness and unwelcome greetings on them, should our paths happen to cross again.
But let’s see what we can learn from that interaction.
First, the objective facts.
They were an attractive young couple, living in a lovely residential area, in a semi tropical paradise, in a free country, that is one of the wealthiest places on earth. They were ambulatory and in possession of all their faculties and senses. They appeared to be in a long term relationship (with each other) and, based on the time of day they were going to their car, gainfully employed. They were wearing nice clothes. They had lunch boxes, which suggests that they also had lunches, which suggests that they had enough to eat.
Not only that, but they had a warm, caring, friendly neighbor (moi) who only wanted one thing: to wish them a good morning.
There are people all over the world who would give their eye teeth (as the saying goes) for even ONE of the blessings that this couple had.
And yet, this couple was not thankful. They were grouchy and surly and unappreciative. They were dismissive, superior, and frankly, unkind.
I am sure they didn’t mean to be. I am sure they are lovely people (I was sure of that to begin with, which was why I wanted to say good morning to them). Perhaps they were dealing with some personal tragedy, or in the middle of having a fight, or wrestling with a life-changing decision. Perhaps it was thoughtless of me to intrude on their private moment, by expecting them to return a social nicety that clearly had no value for them in the larger scheme of their lives.
I am thankful that they met my well-intentioned, light hearted greeting with such coldness and resentment, though, because it gives me the opportunity to point out the third benefit of thankfulness, which is, that when you start being thankful for everything– even if it’s forced and you don’t really feel thankful at first– eventually, you truly start to appreciate everything in your life more.
For example, I appreciate my neighbors snarling at me because it shows me the contrast between how one feels and acts when one IS thankful for everything, versus how one feels and acts when one is not.
No matter what else was going on with them, this couple was surrounded by blessings… including the blessing of having a kind and friendly neighbor who was trying to wish them a good day. But they were so consumed by whatever darkness they were dealing with, that they could not appreciate any of that.
How do I know this?
I recognize it because I’ve been there myself, and not too long ago.
That state of walking around with a dark cloud hanging over one’s head, is exactly where I was, before I started being thankful for everything… which was only a few weeks ago.
And I‘ve noticed that it’s where a lot of people are… even in this semi tropical paradise in this free country that has safety and peace and abundant food and a Wi-Fi connection that works almost all the time.
We have so much … but what good does that do us if we are not thankful for any of it?
And I am not just talking about having so much in the way of material goods. I mean we have so much freedom. We have so many working traffic signals. We have so much breathable air. We have so much water that comes right out of the tap.
When you start being thankful for everything, you start to notice those things. You start to fully experience that you are surrounded by millions of blessings.
When you experience yourself as surrounded by millions of blessings, you feel blessed.
When you feel blessed, you feel happy.
When you feel happy, it is easy and natural to wish your neighbor a nice day.
I am thankful to my neighbors because they showed me how far I myself had come, in just a few weeks, as a result of being thankful for everything.
Many people these days are walking around with a dark cloud over their heads.
I don’t want to be one of them, and I don’t want you to be one of them either.
The pit of despair is still there.
It’s not going anywhere.
But the pit of despair is not the only place to be.
We don’t have to stay in it.
No matter what’s happened in our lives, we can choose to feel thankful, and appreciative, and blessed.
And when we feel thankful and appreciative and blessed, a natural result is that we feel happy.
That’s what being thankful for everything has done for me in only a few short weeks.
And there have been tangible, practical changes in my life as well.
In their amazing and wonderful book, “Ask and It Is Given”, Abraham-Hicks talk about how the emotional vibration that we send out, determines what we attract into our lives.
If we are sending out grouchy ripples of doom and gloom, it’s going to be hard for good things to find us and come into our lives, even if they want to.
Those grouchy ripples of doom we are sending out, are like rabid pit bulls threatening to attack the mail carrier who is trying to bring us good news.
And thankfulness is like a juicy delicious steak that we throw at those rabid pit bulls within our own psyches (we all do have them). Thankfulness gets those grouchy vibrations to stop barking, slow down, and realize they have something wonderful to feast upon… and that in turn allows OTHER good things to come into our lives.
One of the best things that’s come into my life since I started my practice of thankfulness, is my new patio.
Really? A new patio?
No. It’s actually my old patio.
The patio has been there for years.
But I never sat outside on it, because the only thing out there was a set of rickety wooden chairs that looked like they’d been eaten by termites and would collapse if anyone sat on them.
As I started to focus on thankfulness, that magnet of synergy that I talked about in my last blog post, started attracting things into my life.
One of the things it attracted was a Feng shui consultation. I was advised to Feng shui the patio, which is part of the family and health area of my home.
I was told to get green furniture and put it out there.
But I resisted because…. green furniture? Seriously?
And because…. my own rapid pit bulls (metaphorically speaking) of resistance to change, didn’t want to let anything new and better come into my life.
But finally, someone ELSE –my DXH (dear ex-husband, in fact) gave me a REALLY NICE CHAIR.
It’s a patio chair, designed to withstand the elements without getting eaten by termites.
It’s big and comfortable and not rickety at all.
It’s not green… but I was able to find a green patio chair cushion for it easily.
And once I had the chair, and the chair cushion, things started to happen.
Now I needed a patio rug.
And a footrest.
And a little end table.
And some battery operated candles.
And another chair.
And some plants.
Suddenly, instead of a hot dusty wasteland that no one ever went into, my patio had been transformed into an outdoor paradise.
I had a beautiful place to sit at night and listen to the crickets and frogs, or even the coyotes howling in the distance (click here to hear them yourself).
I had a welcoming outdoor living room to entertain friends, or sit and read a book on kindle or watch Netflix while soaking up some vitamin D.
In just a few weeks time from staring my practice of thankfulness, I had a whole new ROOM that had not been there before. It hadn’t involved doing any construction or spending a lot of money.
One day I was sitting out there on the patio with a dear friend who has been following my journey of thankfulness from the beginning, beta testing these blog posts and podcasts to be sure they are ready for you.
My friend looked around the patio, enjoying the sounds of nature, saw me sinking down happily into my new green-cushioned comfortable chair, and said, “Wow! That didn’t take long at all! You’ve ALREADY gone from the pit of despair to the pinnacle of bliss.”
I am not ready to stay that I’ve truly reached the pinnacle of bliss, in only a few weeks’ time, and am ready to stay there… but practicing thankfulness has certainly shown me that it’s POSSIBLE to get there, and that I am well on my way.
So to sum up: I’ve personally experienced all these benefits, within just a few weeks’ time of starting my practice of thankfulness. And we haven’t even gotten to the really DEEP thankfulness yet. We are going to go a lot deeper, and be a lot more thankful.
But before we do, it’s good to see that being thankful for everything produces positive changes in one’s life, in a very short amount of time. The changes are both internal… affecting how you FEEL… and external… affecting what SHOWS UP in your life (like my new outdoor living room).
So now… let’s talk about you.
What positive changes have you observed in YOUR life, since starting your practice of thankfulness?
Download the worksheet and find out!
Think about some positive changes that have come into your life since you started to focus on being thankful for everything.
Download the worksheet and write those changes down.
Then think about some MORE positive changes you’d like to see happening in the year ahead.