Thursday, 25 October 2018

There's an old parable in which a grandfather tells his grandson that within each of us, there are two wolves. One represents our positive attributes: Love, bravery, generosity. The other, our darkest impulses: Greed, ego, cruelty. The wolves are always in battle. “Which one will win?" asks the grandson. “The one you feed," replies the grandfather.

And so it goes with what we attract in our lives, whether it's health, wealth, luck, love or their opposites. The foundation of the law of attraction is being grateful for the things we have—from the tiniest, most inconsequential glass of water to the grand blessings in our lives. Having a positive mindset was the basis for Napoleon Hill's 1937 classic, “Think and Grow Rich," as well as countless other philosophies on self-improvement and wealth-building.

Scott McKinley, along with his wife, Jen, runs a coaching program to help people attract what they most want in life. Cultivating a practice of gratitude not only sets a course for success, but it actually changes your brain, he says. “There's a neuroplasticity that allows us to program the way that we respond to events, to things that happen in our lives. When we make gratitude familiar, when that becomes the normal for us, what we're actually doing is we're rewiring those neurons in our brain. So, when we are in a situation where we're giving gratitude and we're expressing thanks, that starts to become our knee-jerk reaction," he says.

Conversely, when you focus on the negative, your actions and thoughts will subtly (or overtly) inform what you bring into your world. “If you're focused on your problems, you're going to have more problems. You're looking for things to complain about," he says.“However, in the same sense, if you're focusing on opportunity, and if you're focusing on possibilities, well then you're going to start seeing more things that appear to be in harmony with whatever is dominant."

The Science of Gratitude

This isn't all pie-in-the-sky woo-woo mumbo jumbo: researchers from Eastern Washington University found that those who appear grateful are more likeable, leading to more opportunities and better family, personal and professional relationships. They're also happier: “Individuals who appreciate simple pleasures should be more prone to experience grateful feelings because they will experience subjective benefits more frequently in their daily life," the report says.

Author Barbara Huson is an expert on women, money and wealth and trains women to shift their practices and their thinking to go from survival to stability to affluence. “It's really important not to gloss over or ignore the small things," she says. “It's not just because it makes you happier, but it literally makes you wealthier." When you acknowledge the tiny accomplishments – finishing a report, applying for a job, making that first phone call, for example, you gain the courage and confidence to do more.

This can also translate to better health: A gratitude mindset alleviates stress, which in turn, can mitigate stress-related illnesses such as ulcers, ulcerative colitis, hardening of the arteries, and even some cancers. And when you're creating wealth, you're able to better afford preventative medical care, which can help ward off more serious issues down the road.

So on a practical level, it might play out like this: Sara, a small business owner, is struggling financially, but she expresses gratitude for every client that comes her way, creating a positive experience for those she serves. Each of those clients brings in one more, and eventually Sara's business grows. She's also less stressed about money, which is better for her health—and the medical expenses she's avoiding.

How to Cultivate Gratitude

McKinley's and Huson's work with clients who are having financial difficulties is to create an active gratitude practice. “The first thing is looking at the abundance that's actually taking place in your life," McKinley says, using the example of someone who has a bad back, who focuses mostly on how uncomfortable he is. But if that person starts paying attention to the things that are actually working – fingers, toes, lungs, arms, legs and so on, the back pain diminishes, McKinley says. “For every complaint that you have, there's probably 40 or 50 things to actually be grateful for," he says. A number of studies support the connection between a positive mindset and the alleviation of pain.

McKinley asks clients to start recording proof of abundance in their lives. “That comes in all different forms, whether it's somebody buying you lunch, or a free cup of coffee at the airport," McKinley says. The next step is expressing gratitude. “Now you're in this energy of abundance and you're going to act differently when you're around people."

Even financial professionals sometimes have low moments, doubting their own abundance. Huson remembers a woman in the financial industry who told her, many years ago as she started her career as a freelance journalist, “Whenever I get fear around money I go with the gratitude, because you can never have fear when you're in gratitude."

“At that time I was in a lot of fear financially," Huson says. She had just divorced an ex-husband who'd gambled away her inheritance, skipped town, and left her with a million dollars in tax bills. “It was awful. But I tried to find something I was grateful for. And that really took me out of fear. And when you're out of fear it's so much easier to learn."

Huson also took to heart an old saying, one that has served her well in her career helping others. “What you appreciate appreciates," she says

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