We all know showing gratitude is an important part of bringing more happiness and healing into our lives. I think that message is pretty clear. But I got to thinking (and reading) about it recently, and developed a new little hypothesis around the way we can understand and apply gratitude to our own lives.
We talk a lot about being grateful for what we have in life. Important, yes. But what about the idea of being grateful for what we don’t yet have in life? Actually, to rephrase, FEELING grateful for what we don’t yet have in life BEFORE we have it.
When we give thanks it’s because we’ve received something. That positive state triggers a cascade of feel good chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphin. All of which enable us to step out of the fight flight or freeze response and into a state of healing. So, if that’s the case, feeling grateful for something we don’t yet have - like optimal health, a partner, a career we love - before we have it would still trigger that brain chemistry, grow those new nerve cells, make those new connections and create the same state internal state as it would having it externally.
The beauty of this idea is I truly believe we all know what’s good for us and what we want in life; whether it’s health, love, success, etc. But we aren’t able to fully grasp it because our systems are familiar with the default setting - a chronic state of fear, frustration, and a sense of lack for what we desire. Instead of that happy chemical cocktail, you’re sipping straight up adrenaline and cortisol on the rocks. And because any change to the system (whether positive or negative) is a stress, it’s really hard to switch your order up even though you know you desperately need/want to.
So you stay stuck (I’m speaking to myself here on a number of issues) and wonder why you can’t receive it. But if we feel grateful for what we don’t yet have and flood the system with the good stuff we can adjust emotionally, chemically, and physiologically. Then, we won’t be so resistant to receiving that positive change because our system’s already designed for it.
Life by Design was born out of a need for my own self-healing after decades of unresolved illness. It wasn’t until finding the courage to look within that I discovered it was my own belief system holding me back from experiencing a truly thriving life. We all have access to that thriving life. We just need to rediscover our power and ignite the healing-self. Only then can we unapologetically live a life by our own design.