gratitude practice

The Key Mindset Shift to Transform Your Life

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”

Eckhart Tolle

You’re standing in an empty room, and in front of you, there’s a closed door.

You haven’t seen what’s on the other side, but you have a pretty good idea: Joy. Wealth. Love. Vitality. Creativity. Peace. Freedom. Health. All of your deepest desires and dreams.

To open the door, you need a key.

You start looking around, but there’s no key in sight. You’re disappointed but not surprised. After all, that’s the VIP suite in there. It’s only meant for the elite, chosen few.

So instead of wasting your time standing in front of a permanently locked door, you turn around and walk away.

That’s where most of us get it wrong. I know I did. Since I was seven, I’ve had big dreams of being a writer and sharing my words with millions of people. But quickly after college, I got swallowed up in the life of living paycheck to paycheck in jobs that didn’t feel fulfilling. I thought this was something I was supposed to do, though. A stable job meant consistent paychecks and health insurance. The problem was, I never felt very passionate about what I did, and this began to affect and blend into other areas of my life as well.

I had been looking at that closed door for many years, returning to it in moments of hope and quickly leaving dejectedly when I realized I had no idea how to get to the other side.

Today, I’m going to skip ahead a bit in my journey to manifesting my dream life, and I’m going to tell you how I finally opened that door.

The Key Mindset Shift that Changed Everything

Most recently, the closed door came in the form of a vision board. Well, it was more like a vision web. In the middle was a rectangle with my name in the center, and there were several branches surrounding it with ovals at the end of each branch. Each oval had a word or words in it, representing something I desired in my vision of a perfect and fulfilling life.

Here were a few of the items I’d included on this web:

  • Writer
  • Body peace
  • Strong, loving community
  • Live in the foothills
  • Travel and adventure to beautiful places
  • Financial freedom
  • Beautiful garden

In the weeks and months following the creation of this vision web, I began incorporating new habits and practices in my life. I’d been meditating off and on for a couple years, but I decided to make it a priority instead of an option. I started reading books and listening to podcasts on topics related to self-improvement. I began a daily (honestly, hourly) habit of repeating positive affirmations. And I began to truly practice gratitude. When I woke up in the morning, I’d say a little thank you for another new day. When I went on a run, I’d appreciate my legs and my lungs and my heart, and I’d say an extra thank you to the weather for cooperating. Everywhere I looked, I discovered more and more opportunities for genuine and profound appreciation.

Gratitude started out as a conscious practice, but with time, it became more and more ingrained within me. The changes were subtle, but I felt an internal shift taking place in both my thoughts and feelings. And then one day, I pulled out that vision web and stared at in disbelief. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Every single thing I’d written down, I now possessed.

I was dumbfounded. How had these things felt so far away before? The crazy thing is, from the outside, my life really didn’t look any different than it had just a few months earlier:

  • I didn’t move houses, and okay, I didn’t live in the foothills, but besides that technicality, I had a beautiful home that kept me safe and warm.
  • In the past couple years, I’ve gone on vacations to some of the most beautiful places in the United States, and I knew there were more to come.
  • I didn’t win the lottery, but I had financial security and the money I needed to buy what I needed.
  • I had the best relationship I’ve ever had with my body in my entire adult life, and I had cultivated a deep respect for all that my body was capable of. (This body has run a whole marathon!)
  • I had the best community of loving and supportive family and friends.
  • I had my beautiful garden.
  • And that whole writing thing? I was working on writing a novel, and I wrote every single day. I realized that I didn’t have to wait to call myself a writer until I published a novel. I didn’t need to wait for for an agent or a publisher to validate that I was a writer. I’m a writer now. I’ve always been a writer. Nobody can ever take that away from me.

So where did I find the key to unlock the closed door and step into the other side?

I found it in my gratitude.

Once I stopped viewing my surroundings based on lack and what I didn’t have, and instead changed my perspective to appreciation for all that I did have, my entire mindset shifted. And honestly, that probably would’ve been enough, but then something kind of crazy happened: the more gratitude I felt, the more wonderful things flowed into my life to feel grateful for.

How was this possible? Was I just honed in and noticing the good stuff more than I used to? Or was I actually receiving more positive opportunities and experiences because of my new default state of appreciation?

And once again, that would’ve been enough, but then I discovered something else: two key mental tricks thats transformed my life and gave me access to more than I ever dreamed possible.

Mental Trick #1: To manifest something in your life, feel grateful for that thing before it actually transpires in your experience.

Say you’ve been saving up for a new car. You know exactly what car you want, and you’ve consistently been setting aside money from each paycheck to go toward the purchase of that car. You know the date you’ll be able to buy the car. You’ve researched car dealerships and know how much you’re going to offer. You visualize yourself sitting behind the wheel of that car, and you know when you finally have it, you’ll feel so joyful and grateful.

But what if you didn’t wait until you actually have physical ownership of that car to feel grateful for it?

What if you were grateful for it now, before it has even manifested into your life?

I know it sounds weird. It did to me. It’s so counterintuitive to what most of us know and experience. How can I appreciate something I don’t even have? And what if my dream or desire isn’t as certain as a car that I know I’m going to purchase? Maybe you dream of a new job or a perfect partner. Maybe you desire greater financial wealth. You can’t purchase those things like you can a new car. So what then?

Here’s what I say: Even if you think that thing is out of your hands, feel gratitude for it today anyway.

Feel the exact same appreciation you know you’ll feel when you get that dream job, perfect partner, or financial wealth today.

Begin to live like your dreams have already come true, and feel appreciative for that abundant and joyful life right now. When you live in lack waiting for something to happen, you separate yourself from the experience of having that thing. Don’t separate yourself. When you’re feeling like all of these good things have already happened to you, you’re no longer searching for it outside of you; you’re connected to that thing.

Mental Trick #2: Be grateful for negative experiences and for those times when things don’t go your way.

This is where the real magic happens.

These experiences are your opportunities for growth. This is how you build resilience. Every single negative experience is providing you with a lesson you need to hear. Choosing gratitude in these moments is going to help you learn the lesson a lot faster than choosing frustration or anger. Your life will radically transform when you begin to understand how these experiences aren’t happening to you; they’re happening for you. (And the next step? As you become more and more conscious of your thoughts and inner state, experiences begin to happen through you.)

Want to practice this now? Next time you’re driving and get stopped at a red light, inhale deeply and feel grateful for the opportunity to pause. When you’re stuck in a slow-moving line at the grocery store, stand still and allow yourself to feel appreciation for this moment in your life. Find normal, everyday experiences that usually bring you frustration, and consciously choose to feel gratitude instead.

Nothing changes your life more than your perspective. When you consciously shift your perspective and understand the power of your thoughts, you master your inner world.

And when you master your inner world, you master your life.

  • Zanna
gratitude practice
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