***This is an excerpt from my book, “Love, Yourself; a 28-day journey to love the skin (and life) you are in!” You can find it on Amazon and feel free to join us in the Women Only FB page, where, each February, we go through the book together!***
I started out giving thanks for small things, and the more thankful I became, the more my bounty increased. That’s because what you focus on expands, and when you focus on the goodness in your life, you create more of it. Opportunities, relationships, even money flowed my way when I learned to be grateful no matter what happened in my life.
Why do I believe that a book on gratitude can help you love the skin (and life) you are in?
Honestly, I don’t think that reading this book – or any book for that matter – will help you love the skin (and life) you are in. What I do know to be true is that when you practice what is in the book, you will love the skin (and life) you are in. When you use the two magic words “thank you,” life changes.
What is it about gratitude and the words thank you that can bring about changes to how we experience our lives?
The lesson of how gratitude can change our experience of life was taught to me by two separate and different experiences.
When I was a teenager, I volunteered at a rescue mission that fed dinner to the homeless. One particular evening, my best friend and I were assigned to the kitchen to help cook that evening’s dinner of hot dogs and chili.
About 15 minutes before we were to serve dinner, the head cook, a very happy man who was formerly homeless, realized that we were short on hot dog buns. Unsure of what to do, he left to talk to the director of the program. A few minutes later he returned with a gigantic smile on his face as he said, “Praise God, Hallelujah! Thank you, Jesus!”
Curious, we asked what he was so happy about. He proceeded to tell us that when he left the building a bakery truck pulled up to drop off their leftovers and they had the exact amount of hot dog buns we needed. I had never seen anyone so grateful for something as little as hot dog buns in my life.
Flash forward about ten years. I was on a boat in the Bahamas with a friend’s brother for a scuba diving excursion. The water was crystal clear, the temperature was beyond perfect, and there was not a cloud in the sky. There was nothing about the day that wasn’t dreamy and for many people the entire trip would have been a dream vacation.
Unlike the homeless guy, my friend’s brother was what many people would consider successful, as he had more financial wealth than many could imagine.
Noticing the scowl on my friend’s brother’s face as we were heading to the first dive spot, I asked him if he was excited about this trip. Glumly he replied, “No, I’ve done so many things like this, nothing excites me.”
Wow. What a difference in attitudes! A man who had experienced homelessness was incredibly grateful for something as simple as hot dog buns, while another man who had never experienced any kind of financial struggle in his life expressed no gratitude for the experience of being able to go scuba diving from a boat on a beautiful day in the Bahamas. He had achieved so much financial success, yet he was not fulfilled.
Peak Performance Coach, Tony Robbins, says: “Success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure.” That’s all I could think that day on the boat.
What I learned that day was that it doesn’t matter how much or little you have in life. If you aren’t grateful for what IS in your life, then nothing will make you happy.
The same is true for our bodies. As women we often think thoughts such as, “if I was skinny, I’d be happy” or “if my _________ was different, I’d be happy.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. If we are unhappy with what we’ve been given, it won’t matter how gorgeous others believe we are – we will always feel unfulfilled.
I’ve counseled and coached hundreds of beautiful women who were miserable because they said, “If (fill in the blanks) was different, I'd be happier." They couldn’t grasp the fact that other women looked at them and say, “If I just looked like her, I’d be happy.” We rarely see ourselves as others see us.
I’ve also counseled and coached women who may not have been what the world would call beautiful, but they were filled with vibrant energy because they lived lives full of gratitude.
What specifically can gratitude do for you? It can add much to your life, including, but not limited to, the following:
Gratitude will allow you to notice the things that you already have rather than focus on what you don’t have. What we focus on, we feel; if we are focused on always finding what is wrong with our bodies, we will always find something that is wrong.
If we focus on finding what’s good, we find more of those things. The more things we find that are good, the happier we are.
We also become more in touch with the messages our body is sending us. As we become more in touch with these messages, we begin to hear its subtleties and we are then able to give it what it needs to be its highest and best self.
As you practice gratitude, you will notice that your happiness increases. Happiness is naturally contagious to those whose paths you cross. Yes, there will be those who are determined to stay miserable,
but for those who are looking for inspiration, you just may be that person for them.
Whether you have daughters or not, all women at some point in our lives have a younger female who looks up to us. It could be a niece, a neighborhood kid, or someone you mentor. You can be an inspiration, instead of another negative woman in their lives.
We females are bombarded with the messages that we should “hate” our bodies. It is time for us to change that story to one where women are in love with the bodies they have, and because of this love, they do everything they can to be in alignment with that. They take care of their bodies, feed them well, and live a lifestyle that supports their bodies.
By making this change, imagine how amazing you will feel when other women tell you that because of you, their life was changed.
There is a saying that “success breeds success,” which basically means that when you celebrate your successes, you create more success. The same is true with gratitude. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more you will find you have to be grateful for.
feel better physically
A 2012 study published in the online journal Personality and Individual Differences indicated that grateful people experienced feeling healthier than people who did not express gratitude. Grateful people were more likely to take care of their physical health by exercising more and eating more health-supportive foods.
Based on this study, expressing gratitude can boost our immune systems, literally making us healthier.
feel better emotionally
Dopamine is considered the brain’s primary reward chemical and it desires nothing more than attention. (We women can all relate to that, can’t we?) When the brain feels rewarded, it releases dopamine. Our
brains (and I believe our souls) then want to repeat the action that triggered the dopamine, so it can trigger more dopamine, so we can keep feeling good.
When we focus on good things and express gratitude for those things, even if the thing that we are expressing gratitude for is imaginary, the brain releases dopamine. (By the way, research shows the brain does not know the difference between real and imaginary events.)
Therefore, we actually have control over how we feel by choosing to think thoughts that will support us.
It is generally believed that people who are grateful tend to be more optimistic and are perceived as being nicer. They smile more, they are less self-centered, and they have greater levels of self-esteem. All of these qualities create a vibrant energy that automatically makes you to appear more attractive to anyone you come across.
my hope for you
Gratitude isn’t only reserved for those who are lucky or beautiful. I’d suggest that people are lucky and beautiful because they are grateful for even the smallest things.
These two words, “thank” and “you” have such amazing power when they are combined into one simple phrase. The choice is yours to use them.
My desire for you is that at the end of the 28 days, you will feel exponentially beautiful, you will see yourself in a new light, and you will experience life at a level you have yet to know.