Sitting on the couch, I felt it coming. It was late at night and the world was fast asleep. It was slowly making its way to me and I started to feel terrified. “What do I do now?” I asked, addressing no one in particular. And then, it begins: “I can’t do this. I don’t have what it takes!” I was starting to feel overwhelmed and if I didn’t get hold of it, it would lead me down a deep hole the way Alice did when she followed the rabbit.
This is just one version of a very real, very human process of going downhill emotionally. I’ve been through many different types of it countless times before and I doubt it will ever stop happening. The difference is, this time around, I got it under control. I got myself out of it fast—through gratitude.
It’s in the genes! But...
Science has determined that some people are predisposed to happiness than others. Alexander Weiss from the University of Edinburgh and his team reported from their study that happiness is dictated as much by personality traits as our life situation. "Although happiness is subject to a wide range of external influences, we have found that there is a heritable component of happiness which can be entirely explained by genetic architecture of personality," he said in a report published on Psychological Science. (Source: livescience.com)
Before I move on, let me define happiness as used in this context. Here, I refer to happiness that is not pleasure-based. It refers to a deeper feeling of joy that is not defined by material things or other external factors.
Happiness researcher, author and speaker Shawn Achor said in a conversation with Oprah, “Some of the top researchers on Positive Psychology found that Only 10% of our long-term levels of happiness is based upon the external world. Ninety percent of our long-term happiness is how your brain processes the world we find ourselves in.” He further explained that:
“All of this research in Positive Psychology comes down to this idea that happiness is not forced upon us by the external world. It is not forced upon us by our childhood or our genes, even. Happiness can be a choice.”
Let me repeat that last sentence: Happiness can be a choice
I am not embarrassed to admit that I am not someone who is happy all the time (Oprah isn’t either by her own admission, so don’t judge me). All throughout my life, I’ve had many ups and downs and I can’t even tell you the reasons behind most of them. I was even medicated for depression for a little while but managed to get myself out of it, and moved on with my life completely drug-free. I made the choice to get myself out of it. I did this years before I ever heard of Shawn Achor or Positive Psychology.
Did my depression come back? Sometimes, but in a milder form. I am predisposed, after all. But I discovered that by being thankful, I could easily and quickly make myself feel better again.
Why gratitude? How could a simple practice of saying ‘thank you’ change the way you feel?
Why not just listen to music, or say a prayer? You can definitely do those other things as well. But with gratitude, you don’t have to pop your earphones in or find a quiet place to say a prayer or meditate. Mentally saying ‘thank you’ is something you could easily do even when you’re in a meeting, cooking your dinner or taking a picture. It takes literally one second to say it and when you pepper your day with lots of it, think of the effect it’s going to have on your well-being.
Gratitude is a high-vibration energy
The late Dr. Masaru Emoto, a doctor of Alternative Medicine—through his best-selling books Messages from Water, The Hidden Messages in Water, The True Power of Water and Love Thyself--conducted experiments that showed the effects of positive words, music and prayer in water.
In one of many experiments, he wrapped bottles filled with water with notes that said ‘thank you’ in different languages with the writing facing the inside of the bottle. When the bottles of water were frozen, he found that beautiful crystals were formed, regardless of the language used.
Since humans are composed of approximately 60% water, imagine how saying ‘thank you’ frequently and consistently would affect our body. Imagine how beautiful the “expression” of the water in our body is going to be—water that consists 73% of our brain and heart, 83% water of our lungs, 64% water of our skin, 79% of our muscles and kidneys and 31% of our bones.
Dr. Emoto’s last word when he passed away in 2014 was, “Arigato” (Japanese for “Thank you”). But why not make it your first? When you wake up in the morning, let your first words be, “Thank you,” especially if you are having a difficult time.
I always make it a point to say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you” as soon as I am aware that I’m awake, before I even open my eyes. This sets the tone to my day—to start on a high note. Gratitude is such a high-frequency ‘emotion’ that if you say the words frequently enough, you will inevitably feel better in the same way it organizes water’s crystals in a beautiful pattern.
This is what Dr. Emoto’s work was about--hado. According to japinusa.com, “Hado science is the study of subtle vibrational energy. It is the intrinsic vibrational pattern at the atomic level in all matter. It is the smallest unit of energy.” This science existed in the east way before Quantum Physics, the fundamental premise of which is that:
“Everything is in a state of vibration. All people, all plants and animals, all substance on earth and in the universe vibrates. And each person, each plant, each thing has its own frequency, its own Hado coding that is as unique to it as a fingerprint or a genetic profile is to a person.”
As Dr. Emoto’s experiments showed, even music, thoughts and feelings consist of vibrations and that they could affect the physical and transform it through their own frequency.
Have you ever been around someone with an incredibly infectious laugh that even though you don’t know why they’re laughing you can’t help but laugh as well? Or listen to cheerful music and feel good? Gratitude works the same way. Expose yourself to it long enough and it will raise your state to its level and make you feel better.
If you’re really deep into the rabbit hole, make it your priority. Make it a conscious effort to not only say ‘thank you’ but to really feel grateful for what you have in life. Yes, I know, there are times that it is really hard to be grateful. When things are really bad, why should you be grateful? But actually, those are the times when we need to be extra grateful. Be thankful for the hidden lessons behind the difficulty you’re experiencing and the strength and resilience it will give you afterwards.
If you learn to see the signs when any form of negativity is creeping in, you can nip it in the bud by being grateful until you feel better. Gratitude cleans up the negative mess that we’re feeling because being thankful means we are choosing to focus on the positive instead of the negative. It is an act of letting go of whatever is making us feel really unhappy or miserable and showing our desire to be raised to an uplifted state and move forward from a place of appreciation.