I’m a huge fan of tools, exercises, techniques, and processes. I love having really practical ways to apply the things I learn and to make changes in my life. But I have to say, if I had to choose just one technique out of all the ones I use, I’d go with my daily practice of thinking and thanking. In other words, harnessing the power of gratitude.
It’s pretty much just what it sounds like — I think about my day and I give thanks — but it’s an incredibly powerful technique that can transform your experience of life, drawing all kinds of good things to you and making you a magnet for opportunity.
Here’s why it’s so important.
The power of gratitude
I don’t know about you, but when I get really stressed about something, I start to focus more on problems. And of course, when you start focusing on your problems, they tend to get bigger and bigger and you find more and more of them. But the good thing is that the reverse is also true: if you focus on positive things, you’ll start to notice that actually you’ve got quite a lot of good things going on in your life.
The even better thing is that you can actively train yourself to have a more positive mindset, which helps you achieve more, makes you more resilient, improves your health, and just generally makes you feel better.
What’s more, when you focus on positive things, you attract more positive things into your life — it’s just the basic Law of Attraction.
The science behind the Law of Attraction
Now I know that the Law of Attraction has become very popular with The Secret, and there’s been a lot of teaching and writing about it, some more woo woo than others.
As a scientist, I don’t know whether I could prove that the Law of Attraction exists (although I’ve had a lot of anecdotal experience with it), but if you did want to talk about how the science might work, you could think about the reticular activating system in the brain.
This is that tiny little part of the brain that keeps us conscious of the things we’re focused on. It’s commonly said that we receive about two million bits of information per second, and there’s no way that we could consciously process all of that, so the reticular activating system uses our beliefs, values, etc. to choose what to direct our focus to.
It’s a bit like a bouncer at a night club. If the owner of the night club says to only let in tall, good looking girls, then that’s who the bouncer lets in. If the owner says to only let in hot men, then that’s who the bouncer lets in. The reticular activating system is like the bouncer, letting in positive or negative thoughts and perceptions according to your beliefs or what you’ve chosen to focus on in the past. But even if you’ve been a bit negative in the past, you can retrain your “bouncer” to let in more positive thoughts.
Thinking and thanking
This is where thinking and thanking comes in. It starts as a really conscious conversation at the end of the day, but over time it will become relatively unconscious, and learned optimism will set in. You’ll naturally start to notice when great things happen, and you’ll start attracting more of them into your life.
Here’s how it works — there’s just four steps.
First, lie down on your bed. You’re going to be doing this anyway at the end of the day, so that’s simple.
Second, close your eyes and reflect on any synchronicity in your day.
Synchronicity is when there’s an occurrence of two or more events that appear to be meaningfully related, but not necessarily causally related. So that’s things like when you’re just thinking that you need a new bookkeeper for your business and then, who should you be sitting beside on the train but a bookkeeper who you just happen to get chatting to?
So look for meaningful coincidences like that, and then spend some time feeling grateful for them. The more aware of them you are, the more your reticular activating system will focus on them, and the more of them you’ll attract into your life.
Step three is to reflect on everything else in your life that you’re grateful for. You might not have synchronicity every day, but there are still loads of things you can be thankful for — the beautiful sunset, your child’s laugh, that contract you landed … simple, but wonderful things.
And finally, request more of these things. Just say to God or Goddess or the Universe or however you think of it, “I’m really grateful for XYZ, and I’d like more please.”
The most important thing to remember about thinking and thanking is just to do it every day. And I really mean EVERY day — it just takes a few minutes, and it will make huge changes in your life if you stick with it.
My challenge to you: try thinking and thanking every single night for two weeks. I really can’t overstate how powerful this practice is, so give it a try!
And just to get you started, why not share one thing you’re really grateful for right now? Remember, gratitude for the things you have tends to attract more of what you want!
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