Maybe you watched the other night as Nik Wallenda braved the wire stretched across Niagara Falls?
Obviously, it was amazing to watch a man live his dreams, to plan, to focus, to build a team, to risk it all, and succeed!
All of the planning steps he took before he even put a foot on the wire obviously contributed to his victorious walk across the divide.
I think there was yet another aspect to his success:
Nik’s absolute calm before, during and after this momentous and high pressure gig was awe-inspiring. As I listened in to the dialogue between Nik and his coach dad there was an aspect of Nik that stood out to me: His amazing gratitude and appreciation for the moment!
As he walked, he was pushed and pulled by unforeseeable wind gusts, drenched in mist, having to walk a swinging metal rope over the deafening water masses that were gushing below him. Through it all he simply kept affirming his gratitude, and his thankfulness for the moment!
Neuroscientists has discovered that we actually directly affect the plasticity of our brains with our thoughts. Their research shows that we can re-wire our brains to change our emotional style (Richard Davidson, Ph) and change our propensity for having negative expectations and (Rick Hanson PhD) how this affects our experience. This research is showing real changes in the brain – when people repeat various desired practices over and over. Giving a whole new meaning to “mind over matter”.
Robert Emmons PhD has found through his research that people who write a brief gratitude journal daily (or even incorporate grateful thoughts into their morning and evening routines) generally had better success toward reaching important personal goals both academic, interpersonal and health-based!
There were plenty of other benefits to this simple exercise in practicing gratefulness. I believe we saw one such benefit crossing over Niagara Falls in perfect composure the other night!
To start your own gratefulness practice you can simply make it a habit to start your day with a positive affirmation or prayer. A thankful appreciation for your life. Many of us treat prayer as a wish list. And by doing so we are really adding a sense of “lack of” and a sense of “if only” to our attitude. So gratitude can simply be to state what you are thankful for in your life (your health, your children, your dog, roof over your head, nice weather, etc.) By little by little changing your awareness to include what works in your life, you also start re-wiring your brain to actually experience, appreciate and indirectly attract more of what you want!
At night likewise before you go to bed, just list in your journal or simply in your mind three blessings from your day. On really bad days, it can simply be – the coffee was perfect this morning…. I dare you – there will always be something positive in your day – and by finding it and focusing on it, you will become more appreciative, happy and relaxed. You will be able to experience your own success – and also attract more of it!
When Nik successfully had completed his walk, he was asked by the border agents in Canada what was the purpose of his trip. He answered that he was seeking to “inspire people.”
He certainly inspired me – and what a great example of living your dream with a thankful attitude – one step at a time!