Three steps to unlocking deep gratitude & rewiring your brain

By Chris McAlister

I want to help you understand two different kinds of gratitude.

There’s simple gratitude where we’re learning just to appreciate. You feel grateful and you dedicate time, attention and energy to cultivating that.

A practice that I developed for myself years ago when I had trouble falling asleep, was to lay in the bed and just think through the smallest of things that I was grateful for: a toothbrush, clothes, whatever.

That kind of practice can slowly rewire your brain.

But I want to talk to you more about a deep gratitude that, when unlocked within you, washes over you like a wave. You’re overwhelmed with it. This kind of gratitude, not only does it RAPIDLY rewire your brain, but it also facilitates significant breakthroughs in changing the baseline of how you experience life and your day.

Now, to get to a deep, unblocked rush of gratitude, it’s going to require three exercises or skills.

1. Replace comparing with accepting.

What causes so many of us to struggle and to suffocate under the demands of life is that we’re constantly looking at what others have; what they have in relationships, what they have in their career, what they have in their circumstances.

We compare ourselves to them or we look at how they show up in the world. Then we tell ourselves something’s wrong with us, that we’re not farther along, that we’re not moving faster, that we’re not where they are.

If we can’t replace the comparing with accepting, we’re never going to learn the contours, the depth, the beauty of who we are, of our life, and the uniqueness of what we’ve been through. When you really fall in love with your life it doesn’t mean you love every circumstance. But when you can accept it all and see all of it and how it had such a powerful shaping influence in you becoming you. And when you like being you, you’re able to accept what comes along and integrate it, rather than resist it and fight against it.

2. Replace posturing with vulnerability.

In order to unblock this deep gratitude, you need to replace posturing with vulnerability.

Right now, if you were to get still – picture all your thoughts racing around your head, put them into a bucket that you could pick up later, feel the stillness within and then ask yourself “what’s the next right step I need to take?” – you’d have an answer.

Almost everyone can get a sense of where they are and the next right step they need to take.

What happens though, is that people talk themselves out of that next right step because it requires vulnerability. They’re afraid of what others are going to think. They’re posturing. They’re trying to hide a secret about their performance or their success. They’re trying to prove something to the world. They’re trying to convince others of something they wish they believed was true about who they are or how they show up in their mission.
Until they learn to replace the posturing with vulnerability, they’ll miss the opportunity to take the next right step.
If you take the next right step, you start building momentum. Once momentum starts stacking on top of itself in your life, it’s nurtured to the next stage of momentum. You get the overwhelming effect, the compounding impact of your actions taking you farther and faster than you could have imagined.

If you’re loving your life and you’re not having to live someone else’s, that impact of momentum, as it continues to develop and move you forward, gives you a deep sense of gratitude. You feel like you won the lottery in life.

3. Replace judgment with understanding.

One of the most powerful moments that’s ever happened in my life was when I started to see some things in my relationship with my parents.

I started to see some truth that I had not wanted to see before. I needed to appropriately establish some boundaries. I needed to form some conclusions that allowed me to form those boundaries. I needed to own some realities.
But through a lot of heartache and hardships an estranged relationship developed. And as that estranged relationship developed, I learned how to live in it and not be disturbed by it, but also not give too much of myself to it. That was healthy for a season.

But eventually I had to replace that judgment because if I wouldn’t have replaced that judgment, I wouldn’t have come to these deeper understandings that they couldn’t give what they didn’t have. It didn’t mean I had to excuse their behavior, but I could explain it. Once I could understand that at a deep level, then I was able to grasp and fully own that everything that I had been through with them made me me, and I like being me.
It brought this deeper level of freedom where I could appreciate them for the good and the bad. I could utter these powerful words and feel it: “If I could choose anybody to be my parents, I would choose you to be my parents because you’ve made me, me.”

When we make these 3 replacements in our life, there’s a deep gratitude that occurs.
We accept our lives. We own it. We’re not tolerating things, we’re not avoiding, we’re not forcing, but we’re taking what happens and not staying stuck with it. We’re integrating it into our lives so that we become more. We become developed in a way that maybe we couldn’t have imagined.
We advance, we progress, and we learn to fully possess the space that is the uniqueness of us. That makes you feel really grateful.

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