Cultivating Gratitude

Could gratitude be the missing ingredient to creating a charmed life? By Chantal di Donato

Cultivating Gratitude

Author Victoria Moran wrote a beautiful book called ‘Creating a Charmed Life’ a few years ago. When I listened to her talk about the book, I was very inspired by what she said about finding our ‘free square’, or that gift that naturally comes to us and brings us the results we want without even trying.
I spent a year trying to understand what my gift was and, in the end, I found a few that I would define as my ‘free squares’. But I still didn’t manage to get the result I wanted using my gifts. With time, I started to realise that I was focusing on why I was not getting the results I wanted, why the ‘charm’ was not happening. I discovered that in order to truly build a charmed life, I needed one special ingredient: gratitude.
When we create a sense of gratitude towards our life or something in our life, then we are able to open our mind to opportunities and transform a negative into a positive. But how do we become grateful? How do we create a sense of bliss without trying too hard and focusing on the negative instead?

These 5 tips will help:

  1. Wake up to a reminder
    It is very easy to live life on autopilot, running from one task to another automatically. The problem with this attitude is that we are not really living the moment, we are just doing things in that moment. To change that, and create a sense of presence and gratefulness for the present moment, set a reminder that you can see as soon as you wake up. Before going to bed the night before, write yourself a note; a reminder of what you are grateful for in that moment. Place that note where you can see it: on the bedside table or on the mirror in your bathroom. Before doing anything else, read that note to yourself and start the day with a sense of purpose and gratitude for the things you have in your life right now.
  2.  Check-in with your strengths
    It is much easier to be grateful for the life we have when we see results and a tangible outcome. This often becomes hard when we are focusing on our weaknesses rather than our strengths. Remind yourself of what your strengths are, what are your ‘free squares’? Maybe you have one that comes to mind at that moment and that is ok, focus on that, to begin with, and make a list of things you can do utilising your strengths. By doing so, and seeing a positive outcome, which will inevitably happen, you will be grateful for your gift and your life and gratitude will start becoming a much more familiar and frequent feeling.
  3. Swap the negative around
    Unfortunately, negative experiences and feelings happen to everyone. We are often not prepared for them and when they come; we feel like a tsunami of emotions takes over. We are not in control and we often drown in those feelings. What if, however, we could turn this around, surfing this negative wave to positive land? Gratefulness is that key element that can make it happen. Imagine gratefulness as a surfboard, riding that wave so that you stay above water, looking at water from above. Suddenly, the wave does not seem so scary anymore and we are able to see the positive, the way out, from where we stand. Try and focus on how you can change a negative into a positive by looking at what is going well in your life and how that can override the negative. There is no magic formula to make negatives disappear in thin air, but we have the power to deal with it rationally and with gratitude instead of fear.
  4. Love yourself
    One element that makes gratitude stronger is self-love. Humans very easily create self-destructive and limiting beliefs that can create the negativity tsunami we often are drowned by. But love really conquers it all. By allowing ourselves to find love within, we are opening our mind to looking at what our gifts are; our positive side. It is all connected and one simple shift in our thinking pattern can make a huge difference overall. Being grateful for who you are, is the greatest love of all.
  5. Let go of judgment
    Lastly, gratefulness is often left outside the front door when we judge our thoughts and actions. This primal instinct to label and judge everything as good and bad is quite self-destructive because when we judge we cannot be accepting or even observant. When you let go of judgment and become grateful for any experience, you are able to learn from it. Even if that moment hurts, being grateful allows us to draw a lesson that can then soothe and heal us. We acknowledge that even if we did something that maybe was not great, we are not ‘not great’, we simply made a mistake, and next time we can do it differently because we are different: we evolved, grew and became more grateful in the process.

As with everything that matters, being grateful requires some attention and small meaningful steps to making changes and create new habits. Gratefulness is the glue that connects all the dots together and has the power to transform what we see as an ordinary life into a charmed one.

Chantal di Donato is the creator of (

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