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Saturday, December 19, 2015

5 Ways to Cultivate More Gratitude in 2016

Living in gratitude
“How can you be so freaking positive at 5 a.m.?” a client recently asked me as we finished warming up and proceeded into the weight room. I took a big swig of my Starbucks dark roast and gave that query some thought.

Full transparency: Most days I want to punch my alarm clock. Plus, come on, it’s almost 2016. We can send vacationers to the moon; can’t we have our dark roast door-delivered?

But you know what? I always show up with a smile, a kind word, and a let’s-get-it-done attitude no matter how lousy I might be feeling.

Even a top-shelf trainer has days where we want to punch the alarm clock or, nothing  goes right so we want to crawl back in bed with a pint of Chunky Monkey and fantasize about running away to a secluded hammock on some remote North Shore cottage.

What’s the difference between not being able to crawl out of bed and face the day and feeling like you can tackle the world and come out on top?


And I’m not talking about some rah-rah forced version of gratitude. I’m talking about
deep, genuine appreciation for the many things we’ve been blessed with. That morning, I resolved to cultivate – yes, cultivate (it takes work!) – more of that gratitude this coming year.

Gratitude becomes the absolute cornerstone of happiness. Yeah, dark roast coffee gives me pleasure but gratitude makes me happy –there’s a difference. But wait, you say. How can a herculean session of heavy lifting or burpees fill me with gratitude?

Here’s why: because my body is capable of doing that –and that’s so amazing.

“When I sit behind the wheel of my brand new car or rock that new swimsuit because I feel lean and sexy, THEN I will be happy” becomes our default thought pattern.

But really, not one of those things will actually make you happy. Happiness is a deeper, more sustained emotion. When you’re aware of all you have to be thankful for, real happiness simply flows.

How many times have you thought, “If only I had (fill in the blank) I would be happy?” Now that you have “it”… are you truly happy or have you merely started the process over? Why should the universe give you more when you don’t appreciate what you’ve already got?

Gratitude and appreciation for what you have now, in the moment, becomes life shifting. Focusing on what you’re grateful for directs the flow of energy toward more positive growth because what you focus on, expands.

To really put this into action, I recommend a gratitude journal. I use Grid Diary every morning. Other ways to cultivate gratitude in your own life (I mentioned some things a while back) include keeping a journal, sending thank-you notes, or calling an old friend. Yes, gratitude takes some effort, but it pays dividends.

Here are five reasons WHY being appreciative and thankful can create such a powerful shift in your life.

1.     Being grateful makes you kinder to others. Through our hurried, daily interactions, it’s easy to take for granted the people in our lives who make each day a little better, including friends, loved ones, and even the stranger who said “thank you” when you held the door open for them. When you appreciate those around you, you begin to realize we all have more in common with each other than we think. Becoming more compassionate towards others gets easier.
2.     Being grateful can make bad become good. Sometimes all it takes is a little change in perspective to realize just how lucky we really are and how good we actually have it. Having a bad day at work? Be grateful you have a job. Stuck in traffic? Be thankful you have a car and a way to get around. Whatever your current mindset, cultivate gratitude.
3.     Being grateful clarifies what’s really important. When you feel thankful your kids are healthy, it makes it a lot harder to complain about them being noisy or messy. If you have a roof over your head and some groceries in the fridge, be thankful you have those blessings and it will make paying other bills less painful.
4.     Being grateful can reduce stress. We often blame stress for anxiety, insomnia, a weakened immune system, and even higher levels of the hormone cortisol (potentially responsible for that weight around your midsection you can’t seem to get rid of.) However, research shows expressing gratitude for all you’ve been blessed with can help reduce your overall levels of stress!
5.     Being grateful gives you self-love. We spend a lot of time beating ourselves up because we don’t think we measure up against our peers or that we aren’t where we should be in life. Stop beating yourself up. Look back at your life and become thankful for the journey, how far you’ve come, and the things you’ve learned and accomplished along the way. Trust me: Where you’re at now will probably seem a lot better.

What do you have to be grateful for? Remember, it doesn’t have to be something huge. It can be as simple as having hot water for your morning shower or matching socks! Share your gratitude below or on my Facebook fan page.

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Fitness expert and strength coach Jini Cicero, CSCS, teaches intermediate exercisers how to blast through plateaus to create incredible transformations. Are you ready to take your fitness to a whole new level?  Find out now!
© 2015 Jinifit, Inc.

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