Life Coaching: A New Twist on Gratitude

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – JFK

As our 35th President proclaimed on Thanksgiving Day 1963, actions speak louder than words – and this goes for gratitude, too.

There’s so much talk about gratitude these days that it’s becoming easier and easier to dismiss the practice with a “yeah, yeah … been there, done that!” And when we feel down, the last thing we want is to hear someone tell us to “just be grateful for the good things.”

I have been rethinking about gratitude lately. The world news is full of fighting and tragedies. Between political upheavals, diasporas, floods, and earthquakes, I am overwhelmed. These very serious crises are barely touching my life but they deeply touch my heart. My own goals, health, and family issues pale in comparison. How do I keep my positive perspective and set aside the guilt for all I have when so many have so little?
Recently several clients have spoken of their bewilderment and stuck feelings when they want another job, a goal to reach, and a big decision to make. They look at what is happening in the world and feel selfish facing their own personal and seemingly insignificant problems. Yesterday one of my clients said: “I love my life. I worked hard for everything I have. It is perfect except for one big obstacle, one life-changing decision, that I want to make. Am I being selfish to want the best for myself when so many others are suffering?”  This is an existential question.
Let us reframe this. Robert Emmons writes in The Gratitude Project: “In the face of demoralization, gratitude has the power to energize. In the face of brokenness, gratitude has the power to heal. In the face of despair, gratitude has the power to bring hope.” As we each live our lives, gratitude helps us face our own situations to move forward with thanks for that ability.

When you live in gratitude … everything changes.

We often forget that we have this skill to generate our own feelings. Like an artist painting a picture, you have the power to depict how you will show up each day. (Read more about the power of intention here.) And what is gratitude, but a strong emotion? So, instead of looking for things you are grateful for (which are external to or outside of you), why not bring gratitude into your actions and your very sense of self – gratitude for being able to get dressed in the morning, clean your house, go to your office, gratitude for how you manage your work-from-home lifestyle, caring for your spouse, even packing your kid’s lunch? Not only are we very fortunate to do these things, but being aware of how precious daily life can be we are stronger and better able to help others.

To prepare us for our upcoming national “day of gratitude,” today I’d like to talk about living in gratitude. But like JFK said, instead of uttering words, I want to live by them. As a reminder, the practice of gratitude has been scientifically shown to:

  1. Decrease anxiety
  2. Lower the risk of depression
  3. Improve self-acceptance
  4. Improve energy levels
  5. Increase generosity & forgiveness
  6. Ease breathing
  7. Promote greater overall happiness
  8. Improve sleep
  9. Lower blood pressure
  10. Decrease stress
  11. Decrease negative emotions
  12. Increase empathy
  13. Create deeper & healthier relationships
  14. Increase optimism
  15. Increase spirituality
  16. Reduce judgmental and critical attitudes (towards ourselves and others)
  17. Increase open-mindedness
  18. Promote healing
  19. Increase the likelihood of reaching career & personal goals
  20. Increase “likableness”

But what should your gratitude practice look like? As a life coach, I talk to people every day who are looking for support and guidance to solve their problems. It can change your perspective while you figure out your direction.

A New Twist on Gratitude

As a Life Coach, I encourage my clients to turn the focus of their gratitude practice inward. Instead of listing out external factors in our lives that we’re grateful for, it can be more powerful to really be grateful for who you are right now, in the midst of your circumstances … because this can never be taken away from you! This can also have profound effects on self-esteem. It makes us feel better about ourselves, not worse!

  • What do I appreciate about myself?
  • How do the challenges I’m experiencing make me a better person?
  • What am I grateful I ENJOYED today?
  • What am I grateful I DID today?
  • What accomplishment am I proud of?
  • What am I grateful I LEARNED today?

When you train your brain to see the blessings in who you are, you’ll be empowered to live a life you love.

More Unique Practices That Spark Gratitude

Here are 4 more examples of “living in gratitude” that rely heavily on my philosophy as a Life Coach.

1. Stand for something. By devoting your time and energy to a cause bigger than yourself, you elevate the conversation, connect with people who share your values, and improve the world around you. (For example, I volunteer regularly at our local food pantry and have connected with many great folks in my community this way.) You’ll definitely find even more to be grateful for. A win-win-win!

2. Find time to laugh. Your calendar is full of appointments and obligations. Why not prioritize a glass of wine, a coffee or a “game night” with a friend or family member who makes you laugh? Studies continue to show it really is the best medicine. Laugh, take things lightly, and remain grateful.

3. Accept help. There is an art to accepting offers of help and compliments gracefully. Learn and practice this. It will help you tune in to the beautiful life you are creating, and of course – I am someone who can be flexible and can accept help is one more thing to be grateful for.

4. Put a “velvet rope” around your life. We often spend precious energy “dealing with difficult people,” but there is another way. Remember that it’s up to you to decide who you let into your life and how deeply – and that excusing yourself from a conversation, changing the topic to something more constructive, deleting an offensive post on your Facebook wall, or “unfollowing” someone on social media with no further comment can be easier than you think. You don’t necessarily have to end a relationship over bad behavior, but creating boundaries and “sacred space” will help you fall more in love with your life. If you are naturally guarded, this can mean taking a look at who is already inside your “velvet rope” and being more open to new people who inspire and lift you up.

Right now, many of us are struggling. As so many of my clients have said, Life Coaching with me can help create that unique perspective, that new twist on practices like gratitude that will help you face each day, every decision, each challenge with more grace and positivity. Read some of my wonderful client testimonials here.

Life Coaching: Gratitude for YOUR One Precious Life

For all of these reminders, gratitude for life as it is right now is the key. Whatever it is, from the most mundane of things to peak experiences, living with gratitude for what is allows every moment to be a celebration.

Need an ally in this work? I believe we can change our lives one day at a time. We have everything within ourselves to create the life we’ve always dreamed of. With the right tools, a few powerful questions and the intention to create something great, we can get to where we want to be. We don’t even have to know what “our best life” looks like, just that we want to live it.

Contact me for a complimentary, no-obligations life coaching consultation if you need an ally in this work. Or use the Appointment Scheduler and pick a time that works for you. I coach 90% of my clients over the phone, and my DC-based Life Coaching clients have the option of meeting with me in person. I look forward to hearing from you.