About 7 months ago, I was in the midst of some deep self-exploration as I prepared for my upcoming wedding.
Leading up to my wedding day, my whole life seemed to be flashing before my eyes. Amidst the planning, I found myself reflecting on where I had been, where I was and where I wanted to go in my new role as someone’s wife and life partner.
It was during this reflective time that my dear friend and spiritual sister Kate introduced me to a weekly set of emails that have had such a powerful impact on my daily life.
This weekly email Kate shared with me came from a woman named Julie Santiago, a women’s empowerment coach based in San Francisco.
Kate said that Julie was a friend of hers who specialized in guiding women who are ready for a breakthrough in their personal or professional lives.
This sounded like something I was definitely ready for on so many levels, so I went to her website and subscribed to her weekly emails.
As I started receiving her weekly words of wisdom, I began to realize that I wasn’t alone in my experience with fear and self-doubt.
Every time I read one of her emails, I found myself saying,
“No way! That’s how I feel, too!”
It was refreshing to hear someone talk about life, goals, self-doubt, fear and more so openly and honestly, while also providing coaching on how to work through these obstacles. There was one email in particular that Julie sent that really resonated with me – and has stuck with me to this day.
The subject line read “Why being grateful can change your life“. Upon reading it, I found the insights she shared about gratitude to be inspiring and life changing.
So much so that I felt Julie’s message needs to be shared on FindPerspective.org.
I am so grateful that Julie took the time to answer my questions. Hear what this extraordinary woman has to say about the transformative power of gratitude below.
What does gratitude mean to you?
As the saying goes, “gratitude turns what we have into enough.”
It reminds us that we’re protected, safe, and held in everything we do. Gratitude reminds us that no matter the challenges in our lives, there are also always joys. Gratitude means seeing the good in all things, no matter how rough life gets.
Gratitude is about being thankful for exactly what is right now, without wanting to change it. It’s about being fully present wherever you are, knowing that each little moment is a gift to your growth.
Even when life feels overwhelming or when you’re stressed or sad or angry, living a life of gratitude allows you to see the blessings in each moment, knowing that life is happening FOR you, not to you.
When you can begin to be grateful for all things (good and bad), you begin to understand that life is unfolding perfectly.
Why is gratitude such an important part of living a healthy, happy life?
Often times we get stuck thinking about how we want things or people to be different than the way they are.
We often think things will be perfect when….when I have the dream job, when I lose 10 pounds, when I meet the perfect man, when I have more money, when I just get through this part, etc.
But when we think like this and live waiting for things to fall into place, we are actually sending signals out that we don’t have enough. We live from a place of “lack”. And when we live from this place of lack or not “enoughness”, we’ll never ever get more!
The key is having everything you desire is to actually begin to appreciate what you already have.
That is the true secret of living a healthy, happy life…accepting and finding joy in everything and everyone in your life without wanting it to be different or trying to change it.
How has being grateful changed your personal & professional life?
My life is bigger and fuller than I could have ever dreamt possible, but it wasn’t always that way.
A little over two years ago, I was stuck in a pretty soul-sucking corporate job, waking up at 3:30am every day and spending 75% of my waking hours in front of five computer screens. I was struggling with addiction to food and work and wine and you name it!
My soul and body were a total wreck. I was unhappy, but never ungrateful. Through it all, gratitude for the good, the bad, and the ugly has opened up endless possibilities in my life.
In the past two years, I have created a heart-centered business I love, married the man of my dreams, traveled all over the world studying and playing and that’s just the start of it.
I jump out of bed every morning with purpose and passion and excitement. My life is filled with miracles and I attribute it all to being ever grateful for what is. Life is such a gift and I live in a constant state of prayerful thanks.
Can weaving gratitude into your life improve your physical health?
There have been a handful of really amazing studies showing the physical benefits of incorporating more gratitude into your life.
The NY Times recently featured a great summary of some of this research, showing that “cultivating an attitude of gratitude has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life and kinder behavior toward others…the ones who kept a gratitude journal reported feeling happier and more optimistic than those in a control group…they also fell asleep more quickly at night, slept longer and woke up feeling more refreshed.”
A UC Davis study also showed that taking time to contemplate what you’re grateful for improves your mood, because it reduces the stress hormone cortisol by 23%.
They found that people who worked daily to cultivate an attitude of gratitude experienced improved mood, energy and physical well-being. It’s likely that lower levels of cortisol played a major role in this.
Tell us about the 40 Day Gratitude Circle you created.
It was a total burst of inspiration at 9pm one night last fall.
I knew how powerful the practice of gratitude had been in my own life, but never really thought about sharing it. That night, I read a quote about gratitude and then heard a voice (my intuition, perhaps) say “Gratitude Circle”, then “Facebook”, then “easy”, then “40 days”.
It’s crazy, but that’s how it was born. I created the group before going to sleep that night and when I woke up the next morning 100 people had joined.
We are now on our 4th 40-day round of gratitude and there are over 1,200 people from 25 different countries in the group!
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
No matter how challenging life can be, there is always something to be grateful for.
When you begin to search for it, you see things differently.
Gratitude truly CREATES more to be grateful for.
Gratitude is the key to abundance, to freedom, to happiness.
Try it. I promise you won’t be disappointed.