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Gratitude is Not Just a Feeling, It's a Practice

Nov 10, 2023

“People aren’t grateful because they are happy, they are happy because they are grateful.”

                                                                                                            - Anonymous


This coming Thursday, we will be joining our family and friends around the table to celebrate one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving. 


In addition to indulging in an array of traditional foods like turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, we will also pause to reflect on the many blessings in our lives and share our appreciation for family, friends and the many wonderful things our life provides us.


While taking a day to remember and express our gratitude is important, I have often wondered how my life and the lives of others would be positively impacted if we made gratitude a daily practice, rather than one just reserved for an annual holiday. 


A wise person once said, “Life does not happen to us, it happens through us.”  Said another way, the filter by which we perceive what happens to us dramatically impacts how we view our lives, our ability to handle challenges and our overall experience of happiness. 


While feeling grateful is a wonderful thing to experience, what those who truly understand the power of gratitude know is that gratitude is not just a feeling, rather, it is an important practice that can totally guide and transform our lives. 


Or as the quote above states…….


“People aren’t grateful because they are happy, they are happy because they are grateful.”


With that said, here are three ways I believe we can all practice gratitude on a regular basis to make the most profound impact in their lives and in the lives of others.




1) Say “Thank You” Consciously – It is easy in our “robust” schedules to show up as being “less than present” in our daily lives. Think of all of the times you are out and about and how you may encounter scores of people on one of your excursions, with none of them being people you really connected with. 


One of the ways I have learned to do this is to consciously connect with someone when I am expressing gratitude. 


For example, it is easy in the checkout line at store to half-heartedly say “thanks” to the cashier.  He or she may be doing the same line as they look to move the multitudes of patrons through their lines. 


However, next time you are in this situation, pause, make eye contact, smile and say “thank you” directly to that person who is serving you.  Not only will you most likely see them “light up” as you consciously share your gratitude, but the feeling you will receive from this practice will inspire and energize as you move through your day.


2) Be grateful for the “Good” and the “Bad” – Being in a state of gratitude isn’t always easy.  However, consider for a moment that everything that happens in our lives is present for our learning, upliftment and growth.  When we look at things this way, we begin to see that there is an opportunity to be grateful for everything that has happens.


For example, remember a situation where you experienced pain or struggle in your life, that today, you look back upon with pride of moving through it because of the better version of YOU you became as a result of having lived through it.


For me, it was going through the challenge of divorce.  However, looking back now, I see that I grew tremendously from this experience.  One of the greatest gifts I received was my decision to lean into being the best father I could.  As a result, my relationship with my sons is the best it has ever been.  I’ve come to know that for every challenge in our lives, we can find at least one small blessing we can be grateful for.


3) Practice the “Gratitude Sandwich”- Once again, gratitude is not just a feeling, it’s a practice – something we can consciously work on each day to maintain our inner sense of well-being and intentionally attract positive things into our lives.


Today, I challenge all of us to a daily practice of what I call the Gratitude Sandwich


It works like this…..


First thing in the morning, identify at least 5 things you are grateful for.  Don’t just think about them, actually feel the feeling of gratitude wash over you.  This sets your brain, first thing in the morning, to recognize things to be grateful for throughout the day.


Then, in the evening, write at least 5 things you experienced that day for which you are grateful, in a gratitude journal.  In his book, Thanks, author Robert Emmons shares the following benefits experienced by those who write down at least 5 things each day they are grateful for.

  • They sleep better/wake feeling more rested
  • Their relationships flourish AND……………..
  • They experience a 25% increase in their overall happiness “Who’s up for THAT?”


So, what do you think?  Are you ready to make gratitude a daily practice rather just a pleasant feeling you occasionally enjoy?


Who knows, practicing gratitude may be the key for life to stop happening TO you and start moving magically THROUGH you.


I’m grateful for you 😊.


Chris Natzke

Black Belt Leadership Speaking & Coaching

PS: A friend once said to me, "You don't have to be sick to get better!" If you have a great life, but there are still areas where you would like to improve and create BREAKTHOUGH RESUTS, check up my upcoming Breaking Through Coaching Program.  CLICK HERE to schedule a 30-minute discover call and learn more. 


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