Two men shared a hospital room, both very sick. One man was near the window and the other man had to stay flat on his back in his bed away from the window. They struck up a friendship and talked for hours on end. The man near the window would describe the scene out of the window in great detail–the colors, the children playing, couples walking by, the city skyline. One day he even described a passing parade. The man away from the window loved the descriptions, and cherished every word he heard from his friend.

After several days of this conversation the man by the window passed peacefully in his sleep. The other man asked to be moved to the window bed, excited to see all the amazing sights that he had heard described. He slowly propped himself up on his elbow to look out the window. He was surprised to see that he faced a blank wall. He called the nurse in and told her what had happened. She said, “Well you should know that this man was blind. He couldn’t even see the wall. Perhaps he was just trying to lift your spirits.”

The man by the window had an incredible perspective, a vision well beyond eye sight. His window on the world was optimism and gratitude. In his mind he saw only beauty and he shared it with his friend. Gratitude is the gift of perspective. It doesn’t depend on circumstances or good fortune. It is the gift of being able to choose where you place your focus. The man by the hospital window is a wonderful reminder that wellness has less to do with your physical condition than it does with your perspective. Gratitude gave him wellness to the end of his life and meant that he left the world with an open mind, a big heart and a contented spirit.

What’s your window onto the world? Your mission should you choose to accept it is to see the world through the window of gratitude. If you truly recognized the miracle of being alive, you would walk around with your jaw constantly dropped, your hands on your head and crying out, “OH MY GOODNESS.” Life is amazing and you have the privilege of participating.

You are surrounded by incredible beauty and filled with amazing strength. Soak in the power of gratitude. Choose something right now to be grateful for. Choose anything. Choose one thing. Give thanks for being alive. Thank your heart for beating without having to even think about it. Show gratitude to your perspective that is able to see the miracles that surround you. And if you are a pessimist, give thanks for your active imagination. Give thanks for any one thing. Then give thanks for your ability to be thankful. One becomes two, the list grows quickly and spreads and very soon you have created a whole chain reaction of gratitude.

Gratitude – What goes Around Comes Around

What happens if you choose not to accept the gratitude mission? I heard a Hindu spiritual teacher asked the question, “What is the worst karma a person can experience on earth? What is the greatest difficulty, the harshest circumstances?”

You would think he might have said poverty or illness or depression. He said, “The worst karma is to be ungrateful. If you suffer from ingratitude then it won’t matter what goodness and miracles exist in your life, you won’t be capable of receiving them. In contrast, if you are grateful then even in the most challenging of circumstances, you will be able to recognize the many gifts that you are receiving all the time.”

Either way, it’s a choice, and either way it comes back to you. I’m not talking about karma as a cycle of reward and punishment. I’m talking about the reality that if you fill your mind gratitude you will dwell in a world of appreciation, and if you fill your mind with problems and negativity, you shouldn’t be surprised to live in a problematic and negative world. The world is as you see it. There is no punishment for choosing not to be grateful. The only consequence is tainting your own experience of life.

We have incredible ability to find problems and anxiety, don’t we? Sometimes the miracles are staring us in the face and we still find a negative angle. A grandmother is walking with her 5-year-old grandson on the beach, when suddenly a wave comes and drags the boy out to sea. The grandmother looks up to the sky, shakes her fist and says, “God, this is unacceptable, unbearable. You cannot take an innocent child.” And just as those words come out of her mouth, another wave comes and brings the child smiling back at her feet. She picks up the child in her arms, looks up to the sky and says, “My grandson had a hat! Where is his hat?”

Life is incredible miracle and we find the one thing that isn’t perfect. We complain about the inconvenience of losing internet for a few minutes because we’ve forgotten the privilege of being alive at a time in history when we can send a message to someone across the world instantaneously by pressing a button. We complain about credit card interest rates because we’ve forgotten that only thirty years ago when you ran out of money you stopped buying things.

Catch yourself when you start complaining. When you hear yourself moaning about the weather or how much work you have or how inconvenient this is or how boring that is, remind yourself that you get to partake in the miracle and gift of being alive and everything is amazing. Watch your whole outlook on life change, and your whole experience of life improve.

Gratitude improves your life because it breeds other positive virtues and joys. Gratitude’s children include optimism, generosity and kindness. Her cousins include abundance, joy and contentment. Gratitude was always there, just waiting for your attention. Once you find her, you unlock all sorts of other delights.

Gratitude – It’s Good for your Health

Maybe best of all, gratitude is good for your health. In particular it’s good for your immune system. The immune system prevents disease from entering your body and kills disease if it enters your body. Immunity is your body’s protection, and studies now show that gratitude strengthens your immune system.

This seems to work in both large and small ways. In other words if you have an overall optimism about life its good for your health. But if your overall orientation is more pessimistic, your immune system is strengthened by smaller episodes of optimism. In one particular study, law students were tested at periodic intervals during the year. As the students went through classes, exams and internship interviews, their optimism levels rose and fell. So did the strength of their immunity. When optimism went up, so did the immune response. When optimism dropped, the immune system weakened.

Does this mean that you should deny your anxieties and health issues? No. Denial is both a river in Egypt and also a sure way to suppress problems. This is very bad for your health. There is a big difference between denying a problem and refusing to allow your health issue to control your life. There is also a big difference between passively waiting for a miracle and actively doing what you can about your health and then letting go of the outcomes.

Being grateful is not about denying reality. Gratitude doesn’t even measure blessings or compare fortunes with others. Gratitude takes a larger perspective than circumstances which are always changing anyway. Gratitude is a response to life itself. It begins as a recognition that life is grace, which means that it has no concept of reward or punishment. Things don’t happen because you deserve them nor because you are entitled to them. Gratitude is about your relationship with life.

When you live in grace you don’t expect everything to turn out well for you. You simply surrender to someone, something or some process larger than yourself that has its own direction and flow. There is more to life than your current circumstances and understanding. You stay open and watchful for beauty and meaning.

Gratitude is a quality that goes beyond optimism and pessimism. A pessimist says the glass is half empty. An optimist says the glass is half full. The grateful person says the glass is twice as large as it needs to be. There’s always more than enough.

Gratitude has found the right balance between holding on and letting go. You make the most of what comes into your life and the least of what goes out of your life. All is as it needs to be for now. You have the perspective to be delayed at an airport and appreciate the extra reading time. You have the presence of mind to enjoy the internet outage as it gives you some respite from screen time.

Freeze Frame Gratitude

It’s all about perspective. Every day of your life is filled with miracles. Shift your perspective and enjoy the gift of gratitude.Think of a moment of incredible peace and contentment. Freeze frame the picture in your mind. Let it come back to you at difficult times as a reminder of what is possible.

Everyday look for moments you can freeze frame. Ask yourself these questions-

What has surprised me?

What has touched me?

What has inspired me?

Dwell in the gratitude that grows out of an open mind, a large heart and a contented spirit, and you will know incredible wellness.

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  1. Janet King says:

    In gratitude, I have changed my perspective. I used to be ‘the glass is half full’ kind of person, now I see a better way. The glass is twice as big as it needs to be and there is always enough… Thank you

  2. Janet King says:

    Your words of wisdom really resonate with me. I feel my spirit rising when I recognise intuitively, what a devine life I now lead. I work for myself, I am happy, I serve others in the community and I help people heal. I was told only this week, “You are not a carer, I tell everybody, I have a healer” I am so grateful that I can make a difference to people’s lives for the good. Share this insight with me. Love and Light

  3. Lisa says:

    Hi Ian,

    I loved your article!  Since I have harnessed the power of gratitude into my life on a daily, very consistent basis, I can honestly say that my life has been transformed.  I feel better, I look better (from all that additional exercise and eating well that I’ve been doing), my relationships are stronger, and I have attracted some amazing people into my life.  Thank you!

    I hope you don’t mind, I posted your article on my website blog.  I put in your full attribution so any of my readers that are inspired by your article can also check out your site and/or contact you.  Thanks again!

  4. ian says:

    hi Lisa- great to hear your inspiring story. With gratitude for YOU!

  5. Clark says:

    Inspiring words Ian. I am undergoing a processs of change and realisation myself at the moment. And I am greatful for all that this Mother Earth has given me – and to the sun which provides the energy by which use for my alloted tasks. Most important though is Love. Namaste.

  6. ian says:

    Well said Clark. Namaste

  7. I agree so wholeheartedly that Gratitude is good for our health. I  always encourage others around me to focus on their blessings and to find all the things to be grateful for in their lives. I do the same. No matter what trials I am suffering or what issues I am dealing with that are unpleasant, I always remember the blessings that GOD has bestowed upon me and I know that I feel overwhelming appreciation. It is good for my heart and soul when I think these good thoughts!

  8. Josiah says:

    Great post! Someone once said to me, “We have to be careful not to slide from gratitude to entitlement.” And it is a slippery slope! Entitlement seems to be the opposite of gratitude – you can’t have gratitude when you feel entitled to something, and you cannot feel entitled to something if you are feeling grateful for it.

  9. ian says:

    Well said Josiah- thank you

  10. Gratitude is one of the most powerful things you can do find joy and inner peace on a consistent basis…it has changed my life or rather..i have changed my life because of it! It should be taught, along with meditation and spirituality , as a school curriculum and in workplaces worldwide…the world would be a much healtheir and happier place. I think i’ll set that intention;-)

  11. Jacqueline says:

    Great story and thoughts on gratitude! Something I started doing that’s really helped is when I wake up, I choose 10 things I’m grateful for in my life and before I go to sleep, do the same thing. It could just as easily be 1 or 100, but the practice helps begin and end each day focusing on the positive. Thanks for reminding me to keep it up!

  12. Hi Ian,
    Thanks for sharing this beautiful post with us. It’s especially poignant to me now as my ex-partner, and the man I spent most of my adult life with, is very ill with cancer, and as I write this – hovering between this world and the next.
    The last 5 years of my life have been scary and challenging for me and my Gratitude practice has been what saved me from hyper-anxiety. Much better than counting sheep -  is counting blessings!! :) Especially with that 3am heart-racing wake-up call. Calms me down, puts things in perspective and helps me fall back asleep while I’m still counting :)

    Rocking my attitude of Gratitude definitely helps to shift me out of fear and into Love and Gets my Glow On! :)

    I think it’s what’s keeping me going right now – along with faith and a never-say-die sense of humour :)

    Cheers from Cape Town, Bets xx

  13. ian says:

    Nicely said Bets, you are awesome and I’m sure a huge support for your ex. All your gratitude practice is coming back to bless you. Much love, Ian

  14. Thank You Ian ♥ Much Love to you too. And looking forward to meeting you and Meg in person, soon! Something I know is on the cards :) I’ll give thanks in advance :D xB

  15. ian says:

    Sounds good Bets. Will look forward to that.Ian

  16. Mina Marks says:

    We’re so thankful for your posts.  True it lifts our spirits and I can hardly wait to see your next post.Thank You!!! 

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