Magic of Gratitude

I like to start my day with meditation, followed by journaling and contemplations from a spiritual book. This morning routine keeps me connected to my inner wisdom and grounded in high consciousness. It reminds me that my attitude creates the experience. That is, if I expect my day to go well, I will notice all the things that do go well. If I fear that the sky would fall, then it will undoubtedly be one fire drill after another. I always get to be right. As my consciousness increases with continuing spiritual study and practice, I realize more and more that choosing to live in a state of grace is the best way to ensure that my day goes harmoniously and joyfully.

Living in a State of Grace

In his book, Thanks!, Dr. Robert Emmons talks about grace as the presence of goodness in our lives that exists independent of what we do or exceeding what our efforts merit. In other words, grace is a free gift to us. Grace could be a random act of kindness from a total stranger or simply the perfect blue sky on a spring day. When we embrace grace in the world, it is easier for us to appreciate the “bonuses” in our lives, since we did not earn them. However, Dr. Emmons says that it is challenging for most of us to perceive grace (pg. 8):

“The human mind contains mental tools that appear to work against the tendency to perceive grace. We are forgetful. We take things for granted. We have high expectations. We assume that we are totally responsible for all the good that comes our way. After all, we have earned it. We deserve it.”

Perceiving grace, like all other observations we make in life, is a matter of choice. Unless we make a point of paying attention to the gifts of grace bestowed upon us, we basically take them for granted.

Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude

Dr. Emmons also links gratitude directly to grace. Specifically, grateful people are more ready to take note of goodness in their lives that has nothing to do with them. In other words, when we are in gratitude, we are more inclined to recognize grace. Furthermore, just like perceiving grace is a conscious choice, being in gratitude also takes conscious practice.

When we take stock of what we have and how truly grateful we are for the many blessings in our life, our heart space and gratitude consciousness expand. We vibrate at a frequency that attracts more of what we want. On the contrary, when we dwell on the negative emotions of what is not going well in our life, and concentrate on the lack of what we want, we ask the universe to respond to our negative state all the same. The universe delivers on our requests without any interpretation of good or bad.

To demonstrate how being in a state of gratitude shifts your energy away from negative thoughts, let’s do a very simple exercise.

  • Close your eyes and think of someone or something you are thankful for in your life. For a couple of minutes, just keep seeing this person or event. Notice what s/he is doing, saying to you. Notice what is happening.
  • How does it feel in your body? Do you feel warm and expanded? Is there any room for negative thought?
  • Now, for the next couple of minutes, think of someone or something that brings you stress or grief of any kind. Notice what s/he is doing, saying to you. Notice what is happening.
  • How does that feel in your body? Do you feel your heart contracting, your body tensing up?

How was the exercise for you? Did you notice the differences in the two simple recalls and how differently they feel in your body? Which set of feelings would you rather have? You don’t have to be in denial about the challenging circumstances in your life. In fact, it is unhealthy to suppress your feelings. After all, the energy you put into pushing these feelings away comes with an equally powerful reactive force that shows up in a corresponding experience.

By consciously choosing to be in gratitude, by focusing on thoughts that lead to expansion in your chest rather than contraction, by choosing feelings of ease instead of tension, you are doing yourself a huge favor. By being in gratitude, even when your life circumstances are not ideal, you are choosing to shift your energy to welcome more things to come that create more of these good feelings, more reasons to celebrate. The universe then conspires to line up the external circumstances of your life to match what you seek, based on your internal state.

Magic = Grace = Gratitude

One of the books I’m currently reading and working with is The Magic by Rhonda Byrne. It lays out 28 days of simple but powerful daily gratitude practices. I highly recommend this book if you want to live in a state of grace with an attitude of gratitude. At the minimum, follow this daily practice from the book:

  • Start your day listing 10 things for which you are grateful, no matter how small they are, along with the reasons you are grateful for them. Really feel gratitude for each of these 10 things.
  • Before you go to sleep, think of the one thing that transpired in your day for which you feel the most grateful. Again, truly allow waves of gratitude to wash over you.

Life is pure magic, and grace is everywhere when we are open to recognizing it. Set an intention today to receive the many free gifts from the universe by activating the magic of gratitude in your daily life.


This article is partly based on the Celebrate Chapter of my book, REACH Your Dreams: Five Steps to be a Conscious Creator in Your Life.

About Alice Chan, Ph.D.

Dr. Alice Chan is passionate about developing conscious leaders and organizations. Her path to serve her life purpose has included being an award-winning Cornell professor and a leader in the corporate world for nearly 15 years. She’s the author of the book, REACH Your Dreams: Five Steps to be a Conscious Creator in Your Life, and creator of the program, 30 Days to Living Your Best Life. All content on this blog and website is her own, not the opinions of her employer.

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I too love practicing the attitude of gratitude and the daily exercises from The Magic. The 28-day exercise practice made my life better and it continues to get better every day. And I love your posts - another way for me to remind myself to be grateful. Thank you Alice! Love, Adrienne

Scott Mabry
Scott Mabry

Great reminder Alice. Thank you. I start my day with reflection and exercise but sometimes for get to practice gratitude. When I let it slip for a while I notice. Need to make it a habit.

Alice Chan, Ph.D.
Alice Chan, Ph.D.

A big round of gratitude to you, Adrienne, for telling me about The Magic and for reading my posts and commenting here. Having you in my circle is most definitely a blessing I count often! Love, Alice

Alice Chan, Ph.D.
Alice Chan, Ph.D.

Scott, Thank you for reading and for sharing your comments. I've read and tried different gratitude practices for years, including writing in a gratitude journal before I went to sleep. Like you, I really notice the difference, especially when I wasn't in gratitude. That's why I find the practices in The Magic so great. After 28 days of counting my blessings every morning and going to sleep in gratitude--in addition to whatever the daily theme happens to be--being in gratitude will cement further as a habit without having to think about it. A friend of mine, who writes a very successful blog, plans to have a month of practicing The Magic with all her readers. If you're interested, I'll let you know when that happens. Many Blessings, Alice

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