If you’ve been around personal development for more than 10 minutes, you’ve heard people touting the benefits of gratitude (like “IT IS NON-NEGOTIABLE AND WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE” type stuff).
I agree now… but I didn’t grow up with gratitude.
I grew up with good manners, and always said thank you (because we didn’t want anyone else to think we were ungrateful), but that doesn’t mean I knew anything about what it meant to actually be grateful. To actually FEEL the sensation of being thankful, as opposed to feigning happiness over yet another knit sweater and then faux-smile while saying thank you to avoid the otherwise inevitable back hand to the head and familiar chorus of “what do you say?”
(I’m not the only one who grew up like that, right? Also, note that I’m not knocking good manners… but manners aren’t gratitude.)
Here’s what you need to know:
The opposite of gratitude is entitlement. Having a weak gratitude muscle doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a whiny, complaining, Debbie Downer. It means you think something outside of you (a person, “society,” the Big U/God, your husband/kids/cousin’s brother-in-law, etc.) will give you the things you think you need in order to be happy and content with your life.
Presence helps you focus on what you have (physically, mentally, and emotionally) right now – to detach from living in either the past or the future. Patience helps you recognize that the stuff you want someday will come, as long as you have the persistence to take just the very.next.step. towards whatever it is you want.
To get present
- Focus on your 5 senses. Quite literally, what do you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch right this minute? Just pay attention to your environment for a few minutes (shout out to my first coach for teaching me this early on!)
- Meditate. However that looks for you. Quiet the monkey mind every.single.day. (I’m not big on blanket statements, but this one I stand by)
- STOP MULTITASKING. Your ability to focus is key to not only getting shit done but also to increasing your awareness of the good that is already all around you (oxygen, birds/trees/sunsets, running water…)
To get patient
- Allow “boredom.” Stand in a line and DON’T look through your phone (better yet, pick the long, slow line and do this). Wait for your kids to finish tying their own shoes. Etc. I’m not saying to be lazy or inefficient. I’m saying to note your impulse to constantly be busy/working/connecting (which is all code for numbing out), and extend how long you can put off scratching that itch.
- Keep a daily log of your progress. Note that “progress” doesn’t necessarily mean all the boxes you checked off. If you’re trying to be a more loving parent and kept your cool with your kid, that’s progress. If you’re trying to grow your business and reached out to 5 potential collaborators who all said no, that’s still progress.
- Watch for evidence. Collect indications of things working out the way you’ve hoped for (without attaching a sigh of “ugh, finally!” to it).
To get persistent
- Stop making it about you (whatever your “it” is – sales, relationships, marketing). The more of a sense of “we’re all in this together” that you can have, the more willing you may be to keep showing up.
- Ask yourself who you can serve in THIS moment. And then do it in different forms – financially, emotionally, practically, etc. – again and again and again. Note that answers like, “No one – I got nothin’” are bologna (more on this below)
- Make your work fun (this is the only way you’ll learn to embrace the process, rather than being obsessed with just getting the outcome… which, ironically, is how you actually get the outcome).
The simplest way to make work fun is 1) stop telling yourself it’s not fun (<– most important step), 2) amp up your body so you’re in a positive state (sing, dance, tickle your kids, run with your dog), and 3) give yourself a limited amount of time to do the things you’re not terribly crazy about (i.e. stop overthinking).
A simple way to feel gratitude
When in doubt, recognize something that you have an abundance of and share it with someone who doesn’t (tools, skills, money, love).
My assumption is that most of you live in areas where running water is one of those things there’s plenty of.
Have you checked out Workshops for Water? I regularly announce the opportunity for you to share the gift of safe, clean water with 100 people who don’t have that luxury, and in exchange I’ll be sharing an abundance of my mindset help with you!
I love creating these types of win-win situations… where everyone feels like they gave a little but got a LOT – click here to be the first to know when another workshop opens!In the meantime, if you’re struggling to find things to feel grateful for, start simple. Go count how many times in just one day you use clean water (I did this one day… 47!).