Imagine you’re at work, it’s lunch time and you’re hungry but there’s a problem. In your rush to get out the door you forgot to grab your wallet. You have no food and no way of paying for anything. Luckily, you’re friends with a few of the people you work with and you decide to ask them if they could spring for lunch.
So far this is a pretty straightforward scenario. Chances are you’ve been in a situation like this or something fairly similar. What would you do next? Let’s say your coworker agrees and gives you money to buy some food. Would you express your gratitude by saying thank you?
Here’s where things get interesting. What if you told this person “thank you” before he or she answered your question? Does this strike you as odd, maybe even wrong? We’re conditioned from an early age to naturally express our gratitude after an event. This is a useful model in for our day-to-day interactions but limited when it comes to creating real and lasting change in our own lives.
You’ve probably heard of the word “hack.” What started as computer lingo has come to describe an alternative way of accessing information or a system. This is useful because that’s exactly how I want you to think of emotions like gratitude and appreciation. When you open yourself to these feelings you raise the level of energy in your body and expose yourself to new possibilities.
How is this possible? We know the limbic brain is the emotional seat of the body. The autonomic nervous system which runs your subconscious processes is also housed in this part of the brain. Over time you’ve developed a familiar set of habits that lead you to the same experiences which produce the same chemicals which create the same emotions. You’re in a constant loop of accessing your system in the same way.
What happens when you feel gratitude, when you get what you want? You’re likely happier and more receptive to the world. At this moment the elevated emotion you’re feeling has pulled you from your predictable routine. Now, if we can feel this way after the fact there’s no reason it can’t happen beforehand.
How do we tap into this energy and use it to create change? First, start with a clear intention. What is it that you want to see happen? Maybe you’d like to get a new job that pays better and gives you more control over your time. Create that inner world, fill it with rich detail. You’ll want to be specific about what you want because this helps create the necessary elevated emotion. If you review the specific features of your creation enough times, your mind should instinctively create a symbol to represent your desire. That image will then be the cue for you to focus on and you’ll know what it means
Next, ask yourself how you would feel if you got what you wanted. Referring back to our example, how would you feel if you got that new job? The easy answers here are likely happy or excited but you’ll need to dig a bit deeper to find the sponsoring emotion. A good way to think of this concept is by switching the question around to ask why you are looking for a new job in the first place. The answers here could be anything from respect to financial security. This is the feeling you want to focus on and manifest in your brain and body. The combination of creating a clear intention and harnessing a sponsoring emotion results in a new state of being.
Once you create a new state of being the next step is to mentally rehearse the choices you will make, what things you will do, what experiences await you and how you will feel. If clear intention focuses on the “what” then this step focuses on the “how” you will go about creating the change necessary to get that new job.
Soon, your body and mind will respond as if the event or experience has already happened. You’ll be flooded with the same chemicals that are normally released when you feel grateful only this time you’re drawing the possibility to you. You know you are doing it properly when ‘you feel like the event has already happened’—that’s gratitude! Don’t try and control the outcome, if you do this then you’ll be drawn back into your old habits. You will get that new job but the how and when are yet to be determined.
I want to challenge you. Now that you understand the concept it’s time to put it to work. Start with something small. Keep in mind this is a new way of experiencing the world so it will take time. Focus on maybe being grateful for getting a compliment you haven’t yet received or a sunny day that hasn’t happened yet. Use the outline I provided and see where it takes you. Be sure to keep me updated on your progress!