How to Practice Gratitude

Dr. Robert Melillo

Practicing gratitude is something I do every day because it helps me grow as a person. Being grateful is not just about being thankful for what you have, but it’s about how you act towards others.

Here is an example and exercise I’d love for you to try. Whomever you first run into in your day,  whether it’s a family member or a taxi driver, remind them how grateful you are for them and why. Seeing, feeling, hearing magnifies the effect of anything you wish to accomplish. Saying it out loud (especially if you are shy and uncomfortable with outward affection) is even more powerful.  Also, if you dare,  I will dare you to try to be angry, depressed or fearful when you are expressing genuine gratitude to another. I guarantee that person will smile and will be so grateful back whether they express it or not.

Some people, because of low self-esteem issues feel uncomfortable with a compliment, but those people are more likely to accept it when it is in the form of a thank you. I love this video:

Use this as a prayer to the universe to thank whatever powers you believe in for all the beauty in this world.

Doing the same thing over and over, paying attention to details- these are very left brain skills. Gratitude, appreciating the whole world, nature, beauty and interacting with others are very strong right brain skills. If you find one of these acts harder than the other then that is what you need to focus on. The main idea is to balance or to promote integration and fluidity in our hemispheres. In order to do this, you must focus on your weaknesses; this is the philosophy I developed in Brain Balance and the main reason for its remarkable success with struggling kids.

Developing the skill of persistence and not quitting is the way to get to a goal, but the true measure of long-term success is maintaining that goal. Doing the same thing over and over and maintaining a goal in some ways is easier than achieving the goal but it takes a different type of persistence. You have to develop what I call an “inner thermostat”. This is when you achieve a specific goal like your ideal weight, body fat etc, that you don’t want to change. At this point you need to maintain this ideal goal, so you can reduce the intensity of your actions to the point where you know it will keep you there. Getting to a goal continually takes an increasing intensity, but once you reach the goal, then you need to back off a little on the intensity and settle in for the long haul to maintain your goal. This can actually be harder because it is easier to lose interest and focus because it is less exciting than chasing a goal. This is where most people lose it. For example, people set weight loss goals for a big event so they go on a diet and exercise plan to lose weight and build muscle. And sometimes, after they achieve that, they go back and gain all the weight back because they can’t maintain it. This is the true measure of success- not just quitting on your goal, but then quitting after you have achieved your goal. Maintaining is easier however than starting over from scratch again. I use this to fuel me. For example, there have been only 2-3 times I let myself get out of shape and getting back in shape sucked so, I swore I would never let that happen again. I was kind to myself, practiced gratitude, and let myself focus on the goal.  I have been able to do this for the past 20 years consistently, and I believe I will do it for the next 20, but it does get a little harder each year.

I am so grateful for my health and my family and friends that support me along the way. When you have goals, it’s important that you’re around people that motivate, uplift, and are equally grateful for you. When you practice gratitude on a daily basis, everything you want to achieve becomes less stressful and more enjoyable. The process is never easy but by practicing this, you’ll notice unbelievable changes in your life.