I’ve seen many articles on Thrive about the power of gratitude, mentioning this or that benefit — and there are quite a number of them.
However, some aren’t as appealing as others. The possibility of decreasing cortisone levels, the “stress hormone,” doesn’t drive many people to express more gratitude.
Other advantages are simply unbelievable, like receiving accelerated healing from abusive events in the past. A benefit such as better sleep may slip by almost unnoticed, especially if you have no trouble sleeping.
The Elephant in the Room
But this patchy awareness about the true effect of expressing gratitude is like the confusion we see in the parable of The Blind Men and the Elephant. In that story, each man gropes a different part of the elephant, never realizing the nature of the whole. Different characteristics of the animal are revealed — but no-one realizes an elephant is in the room.
I’d love to tell you I was the bright guy who connected the stories of “blind” people and figured out what power of gratitude really means — but it wasn’t me.
I practiced gratitude for over three years, enjoying its benefits, before I heard Shawn Achor, the author of “The Happiness Advantage” on a podcast. He opened my eyes.
He said two things that illuminated this issue. The first: gratitude has the power to rewire the human brain from negativity to positivity, even if all prior experience — or genetics — have fostered negativity.
And the second? It was a landslide of reality.
“When the brain is positive every possible outcome we know how to test for raises dramatically.”
Gratitude is a Key to Thriving
The message of Thrive is not just to sleep more, but to sleep your way to the top. You need balance; you need to be in an optimal state to achieve optimal results.
You cannot give your best to your work and give the leftovers of yourself to your family. You cannot neglect your health to advance your career. You cannot dedicate all your energy and attention into one area of life — or one technique — and sacrifice everything else.
Unless it’s a silver bullet.
Shawn didn’t carelessly use the word “everything”. I’ve already mentioned a few benefits that come from showing gratitude. Shawn instanced several “possible outcomes” from very different areas of life: sales, fitness performance, salary levels, quality and quantity of relationships, grades at school, chances for promotion, health, self-confidence or amount of savings in your bank account.
Whatever scientists could measure was dramatically better when the brain was positive.
Everything! Gratitude is a silver bullet, a magic pill to thrive.
I have a theory that can be only refuted if someone reports a particular measurable metric worse when the brain is positive:
“A grateful mindset achieves significantly better results in all activities.”
On the 26th of September 2012, I started a gratitude journal about my wife. Each day I jotted down just one to three entries about her.
Since that time, every outcome from my activities has risen dramatically.
My income has almost doubled.
I passed a few professional exams and got a few certificates.
I got a new job which is over 30% better paid than the previous one.
I have more friends and I have them all over the world.
My fitness performance is through the roof. I’ve beaten over 170 personal fitness records in that period.
I was sick only twice between September 2012 and March 2017. In the past I had been getting sick about twice a year.
I lost 15% of my bodyweight and have stayed at that level.
Increasing the Intangible
The above are the tangible metrics. But what about things that we don’t know how to test for, like spirituality?
In my own assessment — the only possible assessment — my spiritual life is significantly better than five years ago. I feel on deeper levels and understand my religion, God and fellow humans so much better. But what can I measure?
Well, some metrics, such as financial and time investment, show priority and focus.
I now give away about twice as much of my (doubly increased!) income as before.
I pray a lot more. I used to pray about 10 minutes a day. Now it’s closer to an hour.
Increasing from Zero
Many other things happened in my life that simply weren’t there before I started cultivating gratitude.
I started a new career on the side. I became a writer, have self-published 15 books — and I am among the top 10,000 authors in the world. (The metrics are number of sales and amount of income).
I’ve bought my family’s first home.
My transformation story was featured in a book written by an American millionaire.
I’ve learned many skills and tools I can use in the online marketing space. I started several blogs (two of them are still active), published over a thousand blog posts, numerous guest posts and articles.
I’ve built a following of about 5,000 people on various social media.
My answers on Quora have been viewed 2.5 million times.
I became a digital coach and my coaching income has climbed to 10% of my Senior IT Consultant salary.
And the best one: Hundreds of people have thanked me for making the difference in their lives.
The Most Dramatic Gratitude Story
It’s not mine. I befriended a woman on the Coach.me platform. She had been continuing her daily gratitude journal for about two years when her world collapsed.
Her boyfriend was killed in a car accident.
She already had a difficult life experience: a divorce.
And then the tragedy happened.
I observed with incredulity how she kept her gratitude journal in those dark days.
It kept her sane. It gave her a better perspective to cling to.
It put her through shock, mourning and healing.
Today she is a happy woman, living a full life and she is in a new relationship.
Gratitude makes everything better. If you are not cultivating it on a daily basis yet, start right now. Ditch other shiny objects. This is the basic method through which you can thrive. Gratitude elevates everything. It is a silver bullet.
Here are several articles on Thrive that will teach you how you can start a gratitude practice today:
3 Unconventional Ways to Continue Your Gratitude Practice Year Round
The Little Gesture That’ll Make You Feel Happier Every Day
Discover the Magic 9-letter Word that Will Boost Your Happiness
Expressing Thanks Is About More than Manners
The Power of Gratitude
Originally published at medium.com