What You Focus on Expands
I love the power of gratitude. I love the way you can lift your mood simply by getting present to
the joy in your life when you pay attention to the little things. No matter how small. In fact, it’s
these little moments – moments that might otherwise go unnoticed, Magenta Moments as we call
them in my Facebook group – that have transformational power.
Fleeting moments like when your child takes your hand as you cross the street, or the sunlight
warming your back as you take your morning walk, or even in the way your dog runs circle
crazies, squeaking his squeaky toy in a musical celebration when you walk through the door.
Ok. Maybe it’s just my Max that does that.
So how does something as simple as noticing these things that are already going on around us all
the time make such a big difference?
It’s pretty simple, really. What you focus on expands.
Have you ever spent a lot of time around someone who is generally negative? No matter what
happens, he says ‘Ugh. Why is this happening to me? My life sucks.’ Or when every little thing
that happens in her life becomes earth shatteringly dramatic, like she’s the only one that has ever
had to deal with any kind of hardship.
You know the type: she sees the glass as ½ empty. All. The. Time.
What is your reaction? You might try to point out the upside of the situation, how it could be so
much worse. But if she’s the type that can’t see her way out or chooses not to, it can become
exhausting to be around. Like a giant energy suck!
So maybe you choose to spend less time with that person. Not call him as much or make up
excuses when she wants to get together.
And guess what? You’re probably not the only one who feels that way. And if everyone is
inclined to stay away, that person might start to feel lonely, and before you know it, he has
created a self-fulfilling prophecy. He has created a life that sucks. Just like he declared it.
When you live in a state of gratitude, you notice the things that are good, even when faced with
challenging situations. Rather than being in victim or scarcity mode, asking ‘Why is this
happening TO me?’ you might ask ‘Why is this happening FOR me? What can I learn from
And studies show that makes a huge impact on your overall well-being.
Dr. Martin Seligman, considered by most to be the ‘Father of Positive Psychology’, has found in
his research that those who describe themselves as having a high level of well-being focus on positive emotions. The 10 most popular emotions are joy, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, love and – you guessed it – gratitude.
Some studies have found that those who practice gratitude and the other positive emotions have
reduced stress levels as they are able to have perspective on an issue. They are more resilient as
they bounce back from stressful events and are able to find meaning in negative experiences
because of that moderated reaction. And a study at University of Kentucky showed a relationship
between positive emotions and longevity.
Practicing gratitude is not about blocking or ignoring negative emotions. It’s more about
enhancing the positive ones, and in so doing, neutralizing or minimizing the negative ones. They
become less meaningful to you and have less of an impact on your life.
The glass is ½ full.
And the best part? It’s so easy to practice gratitude to get that positive impact on your life in a
very short amount of time.
One of my favorite ways to implement this practice is to start a gratitude journal. Every night
before you go to bed, write down 3 things you are grateful for that happened that day. They can
be the little Magenta Moments I mentioned earlier. Anything counts.
Do that for 30 days, and as time goes by, you’ll start to notice the little things that bring you joy.
And the more you notice, the more joy will come. You’ll get clarity about what you want more
of in your life and you can intentionally set out to get more of it.
Do you notice you love spending time in nature? Or walking with your girlfriend to catch up? Or
when you catch a sunset that makes you stop in your tracks? Great! Now, you can make a plan to
do more of those things.
And before you know it, you’ll start looking for those Magenta Moments, your life will become
more joyous and full and when those challenges do inevitably come up, you’ll be better able to
bob and weave and bounce back.
And who doesn’t want more of that in their life?
The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more in life there is to praise and celebrate. – Oprah Winfrey.