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Thank You! 10 Formulas to Master Gratitude

May 9, 2009 | by Zelig Pliskin

Attaining happiness, joy, bliss, euphoria, ecstasy.

This article is from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin's new book: "THANK YOU! Gratitude: Formulas, Stories, and Insights."

"I used to live in a dark world. I didn't realize how needlessly dark it was until I transformed what I saw and realized that I was living in a world of light the entire time."

This was told to me by an elderly gentleman many years ago. He radiated joy. He spoke with a deep sense of compassion and caring for others. I was fascinated. "Please tell me about your life and how you became to be the way you are."

"I was on the negative side. I easily focused on what was wrong with things. I saw what was wrong with what people did for me, and complained about what they didn't do. There were always things that were missing from what I would have wanted. I blamed other people for irritating me. Nothing was ever perfect enough. The sentences that would travel through my mind were consistently negative and full of complaints. I felt emotionally distressed most of the time. I felt that I was this way because of my personality, because of the way I was raised, because things are never perfect. But the main place I didn't look for my sense of happiness and well-being was in my mind.

"Then one day my entire world seemed to crumble. I was in a serious car accident. I was told I might not live. That was the most painful thing I ever heard in my life. It hurt me more than the physical pain. I thought about my entire life. The thought that was the strongest was that I had wasted much of the blessing in my life with my own sense of ingratitude. I was ungrateful to the Creator, ungrateful to the people who did the most for me, and ungrateful for everyone who did things for me my entire life. I was committed that if I would live, I would become a master of gratitude. I would appreciate all that the Almighty keeps giving me. I will appreciate His world. I will appreciate the opportunities He sends my way. I would appreciate everything and anything that anyone has done for me already and would do for me in the future.

"When I came to this realization, I felt lighter. I felt better than I had felt in a long time even though I was in pain and I didn't know what would be with me. I told myself that I wasn't going to make the mistake I had been making my entire life. I wasn't going to say that I will be grateful only if I get better and all is perfect. I was totally resolved to be become a totally grateful person from that moment on.

"The recovery period was long. But I felt grateful for every drop of improvement. I needed to come on to the kindnesses of others. I was grateful for all that everyone did for me. My entire life was filled with gratitude.

"People told me that they enjoyed being around me. My joyful way of being made them feel good. They were happy to do things for me; they gained by being in my presence since emotions are contagious. I am grateful to the Almighty for His wake-up call. I am grateful for the flow of spiritual and emotional abundance in my life."

Everyone has much to be grateful for. Gratitude creates happiness and joy. Gratitude helps you be calm and serene. Gratitude helps you connect with and love the Creator. Gratitude elevates your entire life.

By mastering gratitude, you will become truly alive. Here are 10 formulas to master gratitude.

1. Picture how great you will feel when you master gratitude. We all want to live happy lives. After studying happiness for over 30 years, I have found that a key element in every person who is truly happy is: They are grateful for all that they can be grateful for. A grateful person is a joyful person. People who are lacking happiness wonder about the missing ingredient. When you master gratitude yourself, you will easily recognize that the missing ingredient was: Gratitude.

2. Here is a one-sentence formula for becoming a grateful person: Think, Speak, and Act like a grateful person does. There is no mystery about how to become a person who has internalized the attribute of gratitude. Think gratefully. Speak gratefully. Act gratefully. When you consistently do these three things, you are consistently grateful. Even before this pattern has become consistent for you, every little bit of thinking, speaking, and acting this way makes you more grateful than if you wouldn't have thought, spoken, or acted this way.

3. You will notice what you are looking for. Someone who loves flowers notices them even though others would just pass them by. Someone who is looking for things to complain about will notice what he is looking for. And someone who hates litter will see the litter rather than seeing the birds and the flowers. Consider it important to be grateful. Then you will notice more and more kind things that others do for you. And you will remember more kind things that others have done for you in the past. These will serve as reminders for you to do similar things for others.

4. View yourself as being a person who is grateful and fervently wants to keep upgrading his level of gratitude. Your self-image creates you. Who are you? "I am a person who is full of gratitude for all that I can be grateful for." When this is how you consider yourself, you will say and do more things that will be an expression of gratitude.

5. A question you can ask yourself any time you wish is, "What am I grateful for right now?" How will it affect your life if you build up the habit of asking this question to yourself at least ten times a day? The only way that you can know for sure is to actually do it. Someone once told me that he felt annoyed by his father's habit of saying, "You know," every few sentences. He spoke to his father about it and his father found it too difficult for him to eliminate the "You knows." You know how it is, don't you? I suggested that each time he hears his father say, "You know," he should immediately ask himself, "What am I grateful for?" Not only did he become more grateful to his father, he added much gratitude and happiness to his entire life. He even became grateful to his father for having this habit.

6. Keep a gratitude journal. Thinking about gratitude is wonderful. But writing down what you are grateful for in a journal will have a much stronger effect. Seeing the items adding up on paper, gives you an ever-increasing realization that you have much for which to be grateful. Some find it beneficial to make a quota of at least five or ten things a day. Whenever you want an emotional lift, take out your journal and read it.

7. Be grateful for all your skills, abilities, talents, knowledge, inner resources and outer resources. As I am typing this, I am grateful that I can type and I am grateful to my mother for teaching me how to type when I was a young boy. When you read this, be grateful that you know how to read and that you are adding gratitude as one of your precious inner resources.

8. Be grateful for your memory and brain. The latest estimate is that we all have over 100 billion brain cells. Wherever you go, your brain with all its memories of gratitude go with you. You can access those life-enhancing memories any time you wish. What do you hear more often, people complaining about their memory or people being grateful for their magnificent, miraculous giant computer? The amount of memory the average person has stored in such a small area is mind-boggling. Some people tend to be upset by what they can't remember. Whenever you can't remember something, immediately, say to yourself, "I am grateful for all that I do remember."

9. Whenever you hear a telephone ringing, say to yourself, "I am grateful I am alive and I am grateful I can hear." The more often you will hear telephones ringing, the easier it will be for you to increase your level of gratitude.

10. Associate the word gratitude with: happiness, joy, bliss, euphoria, ecstasy. How do you do this? Whenever you feel positive feelings of gratitude, enthusiastically say, "Happiness, joy, bliss, euphoria, ecstasy." If you want to make this really work well, look in a mirror as you do so. Think thoughts of gratitude and see the smile of gratitude on your face. As you keep applying these 10 formulas, you will create yourself into a happy, grateful person.

© 2005 Zelig Pliskin

This article is from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin's new book: "THANK YOU! Gratitude: Formulas, Stories, and Insights."

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