Gratitude: A Proven and Easy Way to Improve Yourself
Have you ever been forced to work with, or be around a dour and pessimistic person? It’s not a very fun or attractive experience, is it? Don’t be that person!
Most top performing leaders and entrepreneurs have developed the habit of planning for the worst-case scenario for their teams or organization. But few of us actually apply it to our personal lives because it’s simply too painful to even think about.
Humor yourself for a moment, though, and picture one of your worst-case scenarios. Maybe the company you’ve been working for lost its largest client, you’ve been let go, you don’t have money to pay your rent, so you and your family have been evicted from your home with no place to go. And, there’s a homeless person who won’t stop bothering you as you sit next to him on a soggy street. Things are as bad as they can get.
Now, while you’re imagining yourself on the worst day of your life, think about the things you would be grateful for. Depending on your situation, the list could be rather long and might look something like this:
- I’m healthy.
- I’m good at creating software applications.
- I have a family I cherish.
- I have shoes on my feet.
- I can still dream of brighter days.
- All the skills I’ve learned from my previous job will serve me well in the future.
- I can read.
- I’m alive.
- I can still make a difference in other people’s lives.
As you can see, even in the most disastrous situation you can imagine, there’s always something for which to be grateful.
Have the Attitude of Gratitude
An attitude of gratitude brings with it an extremely powerful change of perspective. When your perspective shifts, the way you look at your entire life changes drastically. You’re no longer whining and depressed about the things you don’t have or the things you lost. Instead, you develop a habit of accepting the reality of what is, and recounting all your blessings in life.
No matter your circumstance or station in life, at some point you’re going to face some nasty situations. Things won’t always go your way – relationships turn sour, friends become foes and loved ones pass away.
Practicing gratitude during your down times brings with it the realization that it’s perfectly okay to have a few things wrong in your life.
Gratitude helps you understand that all of the things you’re currently worried about are just challenges that you have to overcome. If you’re angry at a friend, you can use the gratitude habit to see what benefits you have been granted as a result of your friendship with this person. If you’re putting off work, you can use the habit to understand how you’re lucky to have the opportunity to work on this particular project. In sickness, you’ll remember to be grateful that you’re alive.
Do This Daily Exercise
In a few minutes a day, the gratitude habit can completely transform your mindset and greatly improve your overall happiness and sense of well-being.
If you are currently feeling depressed or feel like you have no control over your life, here’s a simple exercise you can perform daily.
- keep a journal close to your bed. Each night before you go to sleep (and even when you wake each morning) write down the things that you’re grateful for. Your list doesn’t need to be profound.
- (For example, you could write down that you’re happy because the sun is shining or because you spoke with an old friend.)
Develop the Gratitude Habit
No matter how small, develop a habit to actively recognize people and things you are grateful for throughout the day. In just a short time you’ll begin to notice a more positive and upbeat spirit consume your life.
So make gratitude a habit. Practice it daily, and practice it mindfully.
Keep a smile on your face when you think about the things you’re grateful for – you’ll be a much happier person as a result.
And remember this: the worst is actually in the anticipation of the worst (that rarely happens)!