Shift into the power of gratitude

The power of gratitude is so well known, 24 million pages pop up when “the power of gratitude” is typed into a search engine. Do any of the experts on these pages understand the real power of gratitude?

Not when they push us to be grateful for the good things that happen to us. The real power of gratitude shows up not when we’re grateful for the things that make us happy, but when we’re grateful for the things that have broken our hearts.

I know because it happened to me.

It was business partnership that had success stamped all over it: brilliant partners, adequate funding, and a product everyone believed was the “next new thing.” All of the wonders of life – living a humanitarian life, changing the world, and doing it without financial worries – were laid at our feet, and we knew it. And then, the unthinkable happened.

One of our partners decided to close his professional practice and work full-time on our project. His family members objected. They told him over and over that he would fail. Their words took hold of him, and his brain began repeating them like a mantra.

First, the negativity overtook him, rendering his brilliance useless. Then, it spread. He began to disparage the things that had been our mark of success. Our ideas, our skills, our contributions, our personalities: all of the things that made us great were now dog meat.

Research in neuroscience has zeroed in on the effects of this kind of negativity on companies. A work environment that falls below 3:1 positive-to-negative interactions will find creativity stifled, communication crippled and motivation destroyed.

In short, this is how dreams are destroyed – and ours was.

Neuroscience researchers have also discovered the fix. It’s noting 3 good things a day. An avalanche of research data about this technique shows that it rewires our brains to automatically see positives rather than negatives in 21 days.

I used the fix. I had to. The loss of this dream came at a time when my husband Bob had a second stroke and was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I didn’t just lose a dream; I lost an income – just when we needed it most, to help Bob heal.

The fix quickly pulled me out of negativity, and a new dream began to grow within me. I created a new partnership to bring the technique of noting 3 good things a day to all those who long for relief from negativity’s horrible effect on our psyches, our bodies, our relationships, our businesses – and our dreams.

As I did, I discovered the real power of gratitude.

The power of gratitude isn’t about being grateful only for the good things that happen to us. The real power of gratitude is its ability to free us from the gravitational pull of heartache so we can clearly see what that heartache has created for us.


Shift into accepting approval

Have you ever had an experience where everything you’ve done in your life – everything you’ve mastered – is needed at that very moment? It’s a rush that cannot be explained in human terms.

Doctors, especially, have moments like these. But I’ve never had one – until recently, when I put together a plan to bring the technique of noting “3 good things” to the medical community via apps. Suddenly, everything I’ve done in my life was needed. Public speaking experience, fundraising, social media expertise, tech skills, working with doctors, running limited partnerships, and this key one: bringing an app to fruition as CEO of a tech company.

The light from this thing was blinding. I couldn’t look at it without getting the jitters. What if I screwed it up? An old fear of mine from childhood – feeling not good enough – cropped up.

I had no time to waste on self-doubt. I asked myself what I needed. The word “approval” immediately came up.

Approval is not something we’re supposed to need. For decades, therapists and self-help and spiritual experts have told us: “approval comes from within, not without.” I have a different take on this. My childhood was devoid of approval. I didn’t receive my first compliment from a family member until I was 35 years old. Think about that for a moment. A life of no praise. The result is a persistent fear of not being good enough. To heal this fear, I had to discover the truth about approval. It comes from within and without – and sometimes coming from someone else (the “without”) is life-changing.

When I was 35, I showed my sister the outline of an ecourse I wanted to teach through AOL. I was terrified of getting another dose of disapproval from a family member. To my utter surprise, my sister emailed back: “Mark this as a red letter day.” It was the first dose of approval I received from a family member, and it changed my life.

Now, unless something extraordinary happens, I feel “good enough.” But something extraordinary did happen when destiny hit me in the face with my plan to bring “3 good things” apps to the medical community. Those old feelings came back. I needed a fresh dose of approval.

I got it from my new partners, all of whom are highly-trained medical professionals used to having awe-struck moments. It happened after I allowed my need for approval to rise to the surface within me.


Shift into believing in yourself

What do we typically do when a new idea bubbles up within us? We can’t wait to tell our friends and family about it – but their reaction is often not what we’re expecting. It’s negative instead of positive.

When I shared my idea of turning “3 good things” into apps for the medical community with friends who practice alternative medicine, they were all over my idea – but they recommended that I steer clear of the medical community. They spoke with a loud and unanimous voice. One by one, they said things like this: Doctors are resistant to change; Doctors won’t consider anything new; Doctors are depressed because of health care reform.

I knew where they were coming from. They wanted me to take an easier route to success. Go after an easier audience, they said, like spiritually-minded people interested in improving their health.

The more they talked about how awful the medical field is, though, the more I wanted to help – the more my heart yearned to help.

Whose heart was right? Would I wind up saying, “I should have listened to my friends?” Thoughts of doubt crept into my psyche; for a few days, they also ran the show. To shut down the doubts, I had to answer the question: Whose heart was right?

I did it with a piece of knowledge about the process by which new ideas reach their potential: That the growth of an idea follows the thoughts that created it.

Oh, we may have all heard that “thoughts create reality,” but not how it happens. By the way, the phrase “thoughts create reality” is not a new age belief, as commonly thought. The renowned paleontologist and Christian philosopher, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, wrote extensively in 1966 about the role of thought in his groundbreaking book, “The Phenomenon of Man.” He said the same thing, but in greater detail.

Here’s what I learned from Teilhard de Chardin. The initial thoughts about a new creation are naturally weak. They haven’t yet gathered enough like-minded thoughts to create a form. But when they do, and the form appears, the weakest part appears first.

The point in time when we want to share our ideas with others is also the point in time when those ideas are weakest, more vulnerable – and more easily shot down.

Noting 3 good things a day gets an idea past it’s vulnerability. It helps us recognize those little signs of our idea’s appearance, and the thrill of that helps us shift into believing in ourselves.


Shift into your destiny

In an act of utter humanity, a small gathering of people recently set out to determine whether we can re-wire our brains to automatically see our positives rather than our negatives. New research in neuroscience shows that noting 3 good things a day for 21 days does this.

The gathering started a Facebook group called 3 Good Things, and they began noting 3 good things a day. They didn’t merely list things like “the sun was shining.” They opened their hearts and posted the events that meant something to them – like getting an unexpected check when it was sorely needed.

After a few weeks, here’s what happened:

“It’s an internal change for me. When something negative happens, I dismiss it and now turn my back on it instead of dwelling on it. I just think of the good things and don’t worry anymore that the negative situation will be around for long.”(Sue D.)

“I have been feeling more positive. I think on the days when I’ve had to dig deep and really wasn’t feeling it but found 3GT anyway, it took the focus off whatever was going ‘wrong’. This is energizing and begins a wonderful upward spiral.” (Lanie M.)

“I’m experiencing confidence and a 90% reduction in anxiety. This is a miraculous turn in my psychological makeup.” (Susan G.)

Noting 3 good things a day does turn our brains into positive-observing machines.

What does this mean for us as human beings?

It means we can now shift into our destinies – not just the purpose for our existence, but destiny itself.

Destiny is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the events that will necessarily happen to a particular person or thing in the future.”

This is what we have been waiting for: a shift into destiny. The ability to use what we’ve learned from every one of the lessons we’ve gone through (even the ugly ones). The opportunity to combine those lessons with the skills we’ve acquired along the way. The certainty that we’re going to create new, more positive – more loving – ways to “be.”

How do I know this? Because I shifted into destiny after a few months of noting 3 good things a day.

First, I began noticing the good things that were happening to me rather than focusing on what I was worried about.

Next, a new voice began to accompany any negative messages. Whenever I thought I couldn’t do something, the new voice said: “You’ve already accomplished a lot more than that.”

Then, an idea began to grow in me. It was the idea of turning the technique of noting 3 good things a day into apps for the medical community.

My idea came with a challenge. The apps, I knew, needed to match the unbelievably positive energy of the Facebook group that had the courage to apply this new technique to their lives. Was I up to pulling that off?

That’s when destiny made its first big appearance. It jumped in with an ingenious spark – of adding to the apps the knowledge and passion for healing that exists within the heads and hearts of the physicians who have signed on to create these apps with me. Here’s an example:

One of my partners in this app venture is an M.D. with a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology. She has a totally different way of thinking about aging. Even in cases of dementia, she believes, aging with its physical limitations automatically presents opportunities for connection and spiritual growth. New insights like this – which can be executed by noting 3 good things a day – will be part of these apps.

More than just developing apps from neuroscience research, this partnership now has an opportunity to make an original and significant contribution to the field of medicine. It will be my responsibility to pull that off – and I’m going to do it in real time, on this blog. At least once a week, and usually more often, I’ll post updates.

You’ll find out:

o   How to get supporters

o   How to fund projects like apps

o   How past lessons play a part in creating new opportunities

o   How to deal with the emotions that crop up

o   How to handle obstacles in the way

In real time, as I do it.