This is an extraordinary time of year.

A time when millions of people focus first on gratitude and giving and then shift their attention to growth. It doesn’t get much better than that.

I’ve talked and written a lot about gratitude, and I’ve studied it intensely. Gratitude is a central feature of my life because it is absolutely transformational.

You see, gratitude is the ultimate antidote to negativity. You just cannot maintain a negative mental posture and a posture of gratitude simultaneously. Try it, and you’ll see. Gratitude will ALWAYS win out.

The sun is rising, and the birds are singing.

You look out your living room window, past the pool to the splendor of daffodils, gardenias, and roses.

Your business is doing really well. You and your family are healthy. And you have all the money you need to do the things you want to do.

You smile, pick up a pen, and start to write a gratitude list. When you’re finished, for a moment, you wonder if life can get any better.

It’s like eating a piece of cake

When everything is working in their favor, it’s easy for most people to feel grateful.

And some people seem to be naturally grateful in all circumstances.

However, for many people, an attitude of gratitude must be cultivated, especially when things aren’t going well.

When you let yourself practice being grateful no matter what your current circumstances are, it pours out of you and onto others. And you discover that gratitude is a magnet. A grateful heart and mind become a mighty magnet that draws more to be grateful for to you.

So, how do you exude gratitude when things are working out well or it seems things are stacked against you?

Let it feed your optimism

Actor Michael J. Fox has had Parkinson’s Disease for about 30 years; however, he doesn’t let the illness consume his life.

Fox realizes the disease is going to take up some space in his life. However, he understands that there’s a lot of space leftover to thrive and enjoy the people he loves.

Recently, Fox had a tumor on his spine. The doctors told him it would paralyze him in a short period of time. So, he had surgery to remove the tumor. The surgery was successful; however, it left Fox unable to walk. So, he had to learn to walk again.

Then, four months after the surgery, Fox shattered his arm while shooting a cameo.

After all this, Fox, who is known for his optimism, fell into a dark place. He wondered who he was to tell people to be optimistic and that everything would be okay. It was a low point in his life where he didn’t feel optimistic at all.

When asked how he found his way out of that dark place and what his message is for others who are likely facing dark days ahead, Fox said:

“It’s possible to be an optimist and a realist at the same time. First, you have to accept the situation or challenge you’re facing. If you have a diagnosis, a loss, a struggle, it is what it is, accept it. Then, examine it and decide how much space or energy it’s going to take up in your life.

“When you accept something, you can find things about it that you are grateful for. You’re not grateful for the problem; however, you can find other things to be grateful for. And that gratitude will feed your optimism.”

Accept, navigate, and dismantle

There’s so much wisdom in what Fox said.

Life is short, and it comes with a series of surprise tests. Just when things are going really well, something can blindside you and disrupt your plans.

When that happens, how do you respond?

As hard as it may be, you must accept it. However, that doesn’t mean giving in or giving up. It means addressing it, finding the good in it, and focusing on what you want.

Now I want you to think about something for a minute…

Bring to mind your most challenging experience over the last month or two.

What happened?

How did it make you feel?

How did you react or respond?

What else is/was possible?

Now, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being extremely grateful, rank your level of gratitude for the situation.

Promise yourself that the next time you face a challenge, you’ll accept it and then find things to be grateful for.

If you develop the habit of finding gratitude in every situation—the good and the bad—you will become magnetized for the gifts of health, happiness, joy, peace, love, and prosperity.

Gratitude as a way of life

As you can see, practicing gratitude is more than making a list of the things you are grateful for. It is feeling good about your life right now.

Instead of thinking of gratitude as a temporary emotion, I encourage you to make it a daily habit and a dispositional trait.

When you are grateful in all circumstances, you find something to be grateful about in every situation.

For instance, if you receive a scary diagnosis, find something to be grateful for. If you experience a setback in business, find something to be grateful for. And if you have a difference of opinion with someone, focus on finding something to be grateful for in the experience.

By putting gratitude into action each day, you will continuously grow, create a more meaningful life, and walk the path to living your best life.

To more and better,