The advice to “practice gratitude to change your life” is said so often, that it’s now become a cliché.
That message has certainly worked its way into books, coaching programs, blog posts and seminars.
But, regardless of how many times I hear it or share it with my own clients, I never tire of its power and the results that people get from it.
I have a question for you … when is the last time you sat down and purposefully acknowledged the gifts that surround you in your life?
Maybe you’re one of those people who say, “I really don’t have time to think about that right now or…..I’m too busy putting out fires and keeping up with the demands of my life.”
Or, maybe you tell yourself, “When my life finally gets better, that’s when I’ll sit down and list how great it is.”
Here’s the thing. If you don’t make time to appreciate and honor all the good you already have in your life right now, you won’t be able to find it someday.
The funny thing about someday is it never seems to arrive. It’s always hanging out THERE, in the future…..as an unattainable, impossible goal.
Forget about someday. Start practicing gratitude right now.
If you’ve never paused to notice the good that’s already in your life, it might be hard to start at first.
If you are so used to focusing on what’s missing, what’s not working, what’s wrong right now, it might be hard to turn your attention to the little things that bring you joy.
If you’ve been living for years in a state of underlying fear and always waiting for the other shoe to drop, it’s going to be challenging to simply turn that way of thinking off.
But, there is a way to train your brain to see the world differently. It takes a bit of work, but the pay off is seeing your life in a beautiful new way.
And it all comes from changing what you focus on.
So how do you do this? You can begin with a commitment to yourself to take purposeful action every day to find what’s right…right now. You must be deliberate and acknowledge the good in your life.
I recommend that it becomes a daily practice—almost like a ritual—that you adhere to no matter what.
I call this “practicing gratitude.”
Why do I believe so much in this seemingly simple action? Because I’ve seen its power to change lives.
In fact, it’s changed my life in ways I could have never predicted.
Before I started my own company, I was running a large sales team in Corporate America. I loved my team, but the pressure was insane, the expectations were unattainable and I felt that nothing I did was good enough.
So after collapsing on the couch one night in a puddle of tears, one of many nights that ended like this, I sat up and looked around the living room of my townhouse. Out of nowhere, I felt this incredible sense of gratitude that I had this warm, cozy sanctuary to come home to after a crazy day at the office.
Then I thought of my kids and how grateful I was that they were healthy and safe.
I then remembered a call that I gotten earlier that day from a customer who was so appreciative for the advice I gave her about one of her campaigns.
I could feel my whole mood shift. This was new territory for me. I had been so tense and on edge all of the time that I didn’t even know what I was feeling. Here were the three words that came to me – Peaceful. Calm. Grateful.
It wasn’t as if I had never been grateful for anything before, but I certainly hadn’t made a conscious effort to focus on it.
I now know that evening was given to me as a wakeup call. I wanted more of that feeling I had experienced and I wanted it to happen a lot more often.
I made a commitment to myself to try to be grateful for something everyday – to actually LOOK for things that I could be grateful for.
Seeing life through the lens of gratitude has given me so many gifts. A quiet strength, more compassion and empathy for people and situations, and has allowed me to feel more joy than I ever thought possible.
So how does practicing gratitude work?
When you make time to acknowledge what’s working for you, you start seeing more of what’s working. Because whenever you apply focused attention to something in your life, it expands.
Think about it: If you go to the gym and you focus your workouts on your biceps, you will eventually start to build your endurance, strength and muscle tone. You will see improvements over time.
Gratitude works the same way. When you focus on what you want more of in your life—the things that bring you joy, peace, and contentment—more of them will start showing up for you.
Here are some tips you can use to flex that gratitude muscle:
Start a Gratitude Journal. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. You could even grab a notepad or printer paper.
The important thing is to purposefully write down things that you appreciate….such as great results, good news you receive, nature, or gifts you begin to notice….like a rainbow or a cool breeze when it’s warm out.
Write down at least three things each day.
Then, do your best not to repeat the list for seven days. Only write down new things. I know, your thinking that’s impossible, right? I thought so too at first.
The beauty of that challenge is that you start to notice the small, seemingly insignificant everyday happenings in your life. You begin to feel gratitude toward private moments, small wins, and little successes.
When you look back at your list at the end of the week, it’s amazing to see what you’ve written down.
Here are some ideas:
- Was your morning coffee especially hot and delicious? Write it down
- Did you finally get the grumpy receptionist to smile and say good morning? Write it down.
- Did feel confident and relaxed in a work meeting you typically dread? Write it down
- The truth is, our lives are moments of small wonders strung together.
You can begin with the obvious if you find you have trouble getting started.
List your health….your pumping heart that never lets you down, your eyesight, your breathe that let’s you know you’re alive.
After a while, your attitude begins to change. Where you used to focus on negative things, you’ll find them not bothering you as much and you’ll look for things that bring you joy. Your perspective about yourself, and the world begins to shift.
Commit to starting a daily gratitude practice and watch what happens in your life!