Every year at Thanksgiving I give thanks for a hodgepodge of things in my life: my husband, my dogs, my home, my job. Seems a bit trivial, but gratitude can change your life. To get to this conclusion, we have to first start with the mind.

Memories Come From Thoughts

Let’s think of our minds as the essence of who we are. It is how we process life, how we think, how we make decisions and create our experiences. In our minds we have thoughts and memories. In fact, if you have a thought, it often comes back to you as a memory. You might think, “I would like to have pasta for dinner.” Later that evening you have the memory of eating a pasta dinner. All of this happens in our mind. We have the conscious thought of pasta dinner and the memory returns to us as an unconscious operation of what was once a conscious thought; it is automatic. If that is true, that thoughts return as memories, then it would reason that if we want good memories, we put forth good thoughts. However, it is a bit more complex than that.

The Conscious Mind Versus The Subconscious Mind

The mind has conscious and subconscious components. The conscious mind is the portion we are aware of. It is the active thinker. The subconscious part of the mind is much more mysterious because we are much less aware of it. The subconscious mind is active in the ventral palladium, much deeper than the conscious mind which operates in the prefrontal cortex, right behind our foreheads. The subconscious mind is a “doer;” it controls much of our awareness and actions, without our even knowing. It is programmed by our past thoughts and experiences. Psychologists at Yale did a study to investigate the subconscious mind. They had unknowing students “accidentally” bump into a grad assistant who was carrying a number of items including a cup of coffee which they asked the unaware student to hold for a moment. Later the students were asked to give their impression of a hypothetical person they later read about. The students who held an iced cup of coffee saw the person as being much colder, less social and more selfish than the students who held a hot cup of coffee. It was the students’ subconscious programming that affected their conscious impressions. It is the subconscious that controls much of our conscious experience. There is an entwined interplay between the conscious and subconscious. It would reason that if I want a positive experience, I need a positive subconscious. Hence, to make lasting change, we have to come at it from the subconscious mind – it needs reprogramming. This is where gratitude comes in.

Reprogram Your Subconscious Mind with Gratitude

The easiest way to reprogram your subconscious is with gratitude because it is based on your current reality. You just have to shift your focus. Self-help and positive thinking experts say that to become abundant, tell yourself that you are abundant: visualize it, affirm it, shout “I am a millionaire!” Well that would work, but only if you can get your subconscious mind on board to believe it and it usually starts out as the stubborn pessimistic one, boldly shouting back, “No you are not!” However, if you come at it from the gratitude angle there is little that your subconscious can argue with. If you say, “I have a great job, a car, a house, food, clothing and I am so grateful for these things,” and especially if you accompany that with a feeling of gratitude, your subconscious has to respond with, “Wow, I am abundant.” It is reprogrammed to act from that angle.

As you build up those thoughts and feelings of gratitude, you begin to have outward additional experience to support that which creates more feelings of gratitude. Because your subconscious will be acting from a place that believes you have a lot to be grateful for. When all of your dreams come true, what will you feel? Grateful.

Feel that way now in all aspects of your life, and convince your subconscious that this is the place you should act from.

Practicing Gratitude

There are a variety of ways to practice gratitude. Start simply: make a list of everything you can think of to be grateful for. Try for at least 50. Start with breathing; be thankful that it is not something you have to actively manage. Really challenge yourself on this. There are more things than you might initially think. Next, create a daily practice of gratitude, morning or night, run through the specific things you have gratitude for. This may feel forced, but just go with it feeling forced. It is just your subconscious pushing back a bit since that is not how it is currently viewing your world. Once you have these two down, begin practicing gratitude in the moment: “I am so thankful for this moment,” whatever that may be. Lastly, be grateful for those things that do not seem like they warrant gratitude. Many times this comes as hindsight gratitude: a person loses their job, but gets a better one a few weeks later. Eventually, you will begin to be grateful before you have to see the outcome. You will be grateful for life itself, all experiences. This is when you really foster the belief that you are supported, capable, abundant; this is where miracles happen.

Author's Bio: 

Danea Horn started Creative Affirmations to share her extraordinary experiences with affirmations. She has turned real life trial and error into trial and success through her easy to follow tips and techniques. Articles include: gratitude, visualization, mind power, healing, writing affirmations and affirmation techniques. Visit Creative Affirmations online at creativeaffirmations.com