The key to the universe is Gratitude. Never leave home without your keys – Melanie Spears.

Academics have begun, over the last 10 years, to research the practice and effect of gratitude (being grateful). Numerous studies have now emerged that indicate that those who practice gratitude have higher levels of happiness and positive thinking and lower levels of stress and depression. Now termed ‘positive psychology’ this is the practice of focussing on what is good and what is working while placing less emphasis on negative thinking and past trauma.

My own story of practicing gratitude came after a financial, mental, emotional and relationship breakdown. I had invested all my savings in a property development that went wrong and the stress of the event eventually eroded away the joy I had shared with my partner.

After our separation, I was sitting on the veranda feeling exhausted and without direction. The financial pressure had not yet resolved itself. But in only a moment, it dawned on me that it was a beautiful day. I noticed how incredibly blue the ocean was and stared out to sea, giving thanks to the day and for the beautiful home in which I lived. Pretty soon, I saw a whale jump out of the water! I kept the process going for the entire day and noticed some profound changes.

Firstly, my stress levels went down. I became very present in the ‘power of now’, and from that place of presence I felt safe and at peace on all levels. My mind had little control in terms of negative thinking when I was giving thanks. It was as if I just knew that all was going to be well because in this exact minute all was well.

I then turned my thoughts to what other people in the world were doing. I considered third world countries, thought of war-torn cities, how children were being sold into prostitution, and the plight of street people and those who had suffered sexual abuse.

Very soon, my ‘issues’ paled in comparison. I was able to navigate my own trauma with a greater wisdom and acceptance when it was placed in a conscious and balanced perspective. I began to journal my thoughts and feelings of gratitude on a daily basis. Pretty soon, my flatmate suggested we make a book, and so the Gratitude Diary was conceived.

The practice of gratitude has now been shown to enhance our altruistic tendencies. A grateful person is far more likely to sacrifice individual gain for community enhancement and social progression. A grateful person will also be far more emotionally available, empathetic, generous and helpful.

I can give testament to this phenomenon. Where once I felt disempowered to effect change on the planet and make a difference, I now feel completely enabled and totally inspired.

SO WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON HERE?

My experience of practicing gratitude is a spiritual one. When I acknowledge ‘what is’ and give thanks for that reality, I am validating and therefore accepting the very nature of existence. This is opposed to rejecting reality, or avoiding it, and therefore living in denial of the very nature of existence.

When I give thanks, I simply connect to the illuminated presence of all things, including nature, beauty, love, enlightened/transcended beings and even human beings. In other words, I say YES to the place in which I find myself.

From this place of connection, I am given SO MUCH MORE! I am offered gifts, ideas, opportunities, friendship and love. I am overwhelmed by the generosity of people on a daily basis. I am also now able to BE generous on a daily basis.

So you see, the practice of gratitude is a KEY. In fact, it is the Master’s key. It is the final and most important key you will ever need. Even if you do everything else in this book but do not make contact with your gracious self, I doubt much transformation will occur, for gratitude is THE doorway to universal truth. It is a PROFOUND opportunity and yet such a simple one.