The Reflective Nature of Gratitude

Have you ever heard that the people and situations in our lives mirror back what we project out?  You can probably remember plenty of times when this seemed to be so.

For example, perhaps you awoke one morning in a grumpy mood – and then proceeded to encounter one grumpy person after another during the rest of the day.  Or you felt overwhelmed with problems – and seemed to attract dozens more problems, both minor and major.

This type of "instant attraction" can be unsettling to say the least!  However, just as it can work in a negative fashion, you can also learn how to turn this mirror effect to your advantage through the practice of gratitude.

Try this little experiment for starters:

When you wake up in the morning, spend a few minutes reciting an affirmation like this:  "I am so grateful for the kind and generous people in my life!  Everyone is so supportive and nurturing and I feel blessed to be surrounded by so many great people."

Really allow yourself to get into the feelings of gratitude for the great people in your life.  Stay with these feelings for several minutes, letting them soak into your mind and heart. 

Then, as you go about your daily routine, imagine flowing a strong feeling of love and gratitude toward everyone you encounter.  You can do this with both people you know and strangers.  Find something appreciative to say to the people you know.  You might compliment your co-worker on her problem-solving skills, or tell your friend you enjoy his sense of humor.  Make it a genuine compliment without expecting anything in return.

As you focus on this little experiment, you may be surprised to notice that other people act more kindly toward you also.  You might receive spontaneous compliments, offers of assistance when you need it most, or any number of other pleasant surprises.

Here’s another experiment:

Do your best to find something positive about every situation and experience you have during the course of a day.  This might be challenging if you are used to looking at the negative side of most situations, but keep working at it until you can think of at least one blessing in every situation.

Don’t try to fake it!  If your car blows a tire on the freeway, you can’t mutter through gritted teeth, "I’m really grateful for this" over and over and expect good things to come from it.  You’re really NOT grateful at that moment (few of us would be). 

Instead, find an aspect of the situation that you really CAN be grateful about.  For example, you might decide to feel grateful that your blown tire didn’t cause a serious accident.  You might feel grateful that you happened to be in the slow travel lane instead of the fast lane when the tire failed. 

Whatever angle you choose to focus on, be sure your feelings of gratitude are genuine – and watch how that quality is reflected back into your life in a myriad of ways.

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