I want to talk to you about something very important: gratitude.
As a dog, I know a thing or two about living in the moment and appreciating the little things in life. I find joy in the simplest of things, like a good belly rub, a meaty bone, or a prance in the park. But humans sometimes forget to appreciate these things, and instead focus on what they don't have or what's going wrong in their lives.
But did you know that practicing gratitude can actually make you happier? It's true! When you focus on the good things in your life, you start to notice more and more of them, and your overall experience of happiness increases.
I couldn’t believe my luck when I went from being in the shelter, emaciated, sad and scheduled for Euthansia, to being loved and cared for by so many people all around the world.
How could I not feel overwhelming joy for all the kindness that was givien to me?
So now I’m on a mission to help every human I can, see that kindness and gratitude can make you happy too.
Love 🐾 #YourHappyCoach, Fenix xoxo
Conscious Gratitude: A Neuroscience-Backed Strategy for Happiness, Change and Health
While gratitude has been considered a powerful spiritual force for centuries, it’s only in the last 2 decades that actual scientific research has addressed it’s power on human health and happiness. 
And while I think we all already know and feel it’s a good thing to be grateful, but you might be surprised to learn that it can:
- rewire the brain from negative patterns to expansive ones 
- heal the body with greater immunity, reducing cardiac disease, inflammation and neurodegeneration 
- naturally improve quality of sleep 
- helps overcome depression and anxiety 
Gratitude, is a magical wand. And everyone can learn how to use master it’s powerful effects with practice and patience.
Because it’s one thing to SAY or HOPE to be grateful for something. And it’s another thing to actually and deeply FEEL grateful. And it is that genuine emotional experience that is what creates the biological, chemical and neurological changes we want in the body.
So what can we do to not just intend or try to be grateful throughout our days, but to overwhelmingly feel it and to let the powerful chemical nature of that emotion continue to heal and transform us?!
We have a few ideas for you. 2 Power Practices for Greater Gratitude in fact.
2 practical and proven tools for weaving an attitude of gratitude into your life and legacy.
The heart of all of these practices, is to build your ability to genuinely perceive and experience fullness and abundance, rather than lack and not-enoughness.
For example one human can have $100 in the bank and feel grateful because of having enough money! And another can have $100,000 in the bank and feel lack and like it’s not-enough to be happy about.
For example one human can have just 2 working limbs and feel grateful and healthy! And another can have a sore foot and feel lack and not healthy-enough to be happy about.
It’s in taking responsibility for our perspective, that we change our inner experience of our life, which over time, dramatically impacts the outer experiences and reality of our physical life.
Confused?! No worries. We’re going to walk you through how to change from unhappy and lacking, to full, happy, healthy, abundant and beyond grateful!
References     
 Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2004). The psychology of gratitude (Series in affective science). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
 Zahn, R., Moll, J., Krueger, F., Huey, E. D., Garrido, G., & Grafman, J. (2007). Social concepts are represented in the superior anterior temporal cortex. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104(15), 6430-6435.
 Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 377-389.
 Zahn, R., Moll, J., Iyengar, V., Huey, E. D., Tierney, M., Krueger, F., & Grafman, J. (2009). Social conceptual impairments in frontotemporal lobar degeneration with right anterior temporal hypometabolism. Brain, 132(3), 604-616.
 Burton, L. R. (2020). The Neuroscience and positive impact of gratitude in the workplace. American Association for Physician Leadership. Retrieved from https://www.physicianleaders.org/news/the-neuroscience-and-positive-impact-of-gratitude-in-the-workplace
2 Power Practices for Greater Gratitude: A Step-by-Step Guide for Transforming Your Life
Use this step-by-step guide to help you learn how to implement the simple, straightforward daily habits that will anchor gratitude into your self-care, relationships and adversity.
- The Power Practice of Gratitude for Self-Care – Self-Care is one of the biggest opportunities that most people have to dramatically affect their health and happiness. From eating well and exercising, to being kind and compassionate to ourselves when we make a mistake: increased self-care is perhaps the MOST important area of your life to focus on if you want to be happier and healthier.
a. Conduct a Self-Care Audit for each of the following areas of self-care – Simply list any positive habits you have, to care for yourself in each area.
i. Physical health – for example: running, cutting down sugar.
ii. Mental health – for example: life-coaching, journaling.
iii. Emotional health – for example: therapy, movies.
iv. Spiritual health – for example: meditation, going to Church.
v. Relationships – for example: date nights, real conversations.
vi. Play & Creativity – for example: puzzles, painting.
b. Great job! Now it’s time to go through the 6 areas above, and do your best to see and feel that you have been doing your BEST. Yes you can definitely expand. Yes there is room for improvement! But it’s a Universal truth that given all that you’ve been going through, all that’s going on around you, and all the ways you’ve been conditioned and cared for, YOU are doing your BEST. [This is tough stuff right here. Many people resist this truth, and that holds them back from the compassion we all need to love and be grateful for ourselves. Read my personal story below to understand the Psychology of this a little more.]
c. Ok, so you’re now feeling like you have Great and Full self-care! You can see and feel you’ve been doing your best. Are you ready to do more?! For sure!!!!! But please give yourself permission to see that you have been loving and caring for yourself in Great Ways that are Full! They are ENOUGH!
d. Now you’re ready to grow and expand…not by forcing and pushing and pressuring and punishing yourself to do more. But you’re ready for the magic trick of feeling GREAT and FULL for how you cared for yourself each day, is the magic key to doing more. [Again, more in my personal story below about this.] So simply commit to feeling grateful for how you cared and love yourself each day. You might want to put a post-it on the bathroom mirror to remind you to do this while you’re brushing your teeth! You might want to add this to your journaling each night. You might want to share this grateful acknowledgement to a loved one each night before you sleep. It’s up to you. How are you going to feel grateful for loving and caring for yourself each day?
2. The Power Practice of Gratitude for People – Our relationships offer profound and huge turning points for us, in our ability to accept and love someone as they are, and to truly feel grateful for them in our life. The Universal truth is that no matter how someone shows up in our life, we can be grateful.
a. List the 3 most important relationships in your life. You can define important in any way that you’d like. But what are the 3 most important relationships in your world?
i. Some examples:
1. My life partner (obviously),
2. My boss right now (because we interact so much and there’s so much conflict there right now and if I get a better relationships it will change my days entirely),
3. My dog (obviously),
4. My neighbor right now (because I feel there’s a great opportunity to clear the air and be a really powerful kind presence in each others’ lives), or
5. My Uncle right now (because he has cancer and I am so called to do whatever I can to serve and support him).
b. Now, for each being, list the ways that you are grateful that they are in your life. Consider that gratitude can come in all forms. There is easy gratitude - which is that warm fuzzy feeling of just being so lucky and so happy that someone is in your life because they help you in so many positive ways. And there is growing gratitude - which is the awareness of how someone in your life is teaching you to grow and expand, to have compassion, to have boundaries, etc.
c. Now this is simple. At the end of each day, you’re going to express a gratitude to each of your 3 people, every day. But you’re not going to do it to them physically. You’re going to do it silently, inside of yourself, in your imagination. Trust me. They’ll still get it. We’re all connected. We all feel when someone’s sending us great loving grateful vibes, or not.
i. Some examples:
1. My life partner – “Omg thank you for being so sweet today. I just love you.” (remember you just do this silently, inwardly)
2. My boss right now – ”Thank you for stretching me into more patience today. Thank you for showing me how to be kinder to myself, when someone lacks kindness towards me for reasons I can’t understand.”
3. My dog – ”You are the light of my life. Thank you for choosing me.”
4. My neighbor right now – ”Thank you for not playing such loud music today. OMG was so much more peaceful in me today because of that. Thank you!”
5. My Uncle right now – ”Thank you for helping me to experience just how loving and generous I am. Thank you for sharing your vulnerability and your humanity today. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. But I am so grateful it’s bringing us closer.”
From Dr. Zoë
Phew! Big Stuff! I hope you don’t feel too much like this is a bait and switch.
Like here’s a cute fluffy dog that inspires me so much, and now all of a sudden I’m diving into deep Universal truths that are rocking my world.
Well no matter how you feel about it. I am grateful you’re here.
I am grateful that Fenix’ example in my life, has helped me dive deeper into what’s important to me. And Fenix has also helped me see that it’s my challenges (or disabilities) that truly have become the things I am most grateful for in life, over time.
So I promised I’d share a little more about this one key dynamic, that is so hard to grasp. But unlocks not only the power of gratitude, but also the power of Self-Love and Self-Compassion in our life.
It’s so understandable if you’re having a hard time letting go of feeling bad about not doing more in your life. That’s how most of us learn to motivate ourselves. The only problem it doesn’t work. It scientifically does NOT WORK.
So let me explain.
We used to think that there was some Psychological benefit to self-criticism. And while there can be short-term gains, long term criticising and punishing ourselves for what we have NOT done - does NOT help us do more. The inverse is true.
And I know. If I wanted to go to the gym 3 times this week, but I only got there once. There is a natural tendancy to NOT feel good, GREAT or FULL about that. Rather we seem to think that feeling bad about it. Kind of punishing ourselves and repenting for it will help us go to the gym more next week. But if you were able to really see the data in your own life, and in others’…you would see that feeling bad is only holding you down from moving forward. It creates a debt you eventually can’t get out from under. And so we give up.
We have abundant research now (mostly thanks to Dr. Kristin Neff – I hope I get to meet her some day) that shows that if we go to the gym just once this week – and we can see that that WAS great! That we did our BEST! That given all the visible and invisible pressures and pushes and factors in our life - that actually getting to the gym once this week was something to be and FEEL grateful for!!! When we start to have this kind of compassion for ourselves - things begin to shift. We begin to find ourselves expanding and moving forward. Because we’re letting ourselves off the hook for the past, so we don’t carry that debt forward with us.
Grateful is not just something we randomly feel. That’s easy gratitude. And yes! It’s a gift and a powerful emotion in life.
But the trickier growth gratitude – that requires time and love and energy and compassion – developing these practices for having more growth gratitude in your life is an absolute game changer.
And I know this, because of the science, but mostly because I experience it so profoundly in my own life. I used to be SO critical and hard on myself. And I could make a change short-term, but never long-term. Learning how to be kind and soft with myself, no matter where I am, has helped me sustain long-term changes and real transformation in my life.
Well, as always, I never meant this to be so long and involved. But I am here to help. I am here to give all I can give to serve and support. And so I hope you do find something valuable here for you.
Please let me know any feedback, ideas or questions you have. Always. It’s hard to consider this a 2-way communication, but please know that I would love to hear back from you! Email me anytime.