We have all heard people tell us, “It doesn’t matter what our situation is, we should always be grateful for what we have,” or something along those lines. Like a lot of concepts with personal development and mind management a lot of people understand the concept though find it hard to put it into practice and take the necessary actions to feel grateful. In the following article I will give my opinion on why we should be grateful and how we can start doing it right now.
Why Should We Be Grateful?
It’s an old cliché, but living in the 1st world, or even just having the resources to read this post, puts us ‘above’ most people. I want to be very clear here that when I say ‘above’ people I am not talking about their personality or their contribution to the world. I am talking about the physical resources and opportunities that we in the 1st world have.
Without sounding contradictory, I am also not condoning that people should settle for the life they have at the moment. Successful people – those who have achieved what they set out to do – are constantly growing themselves. Meaning they are constantly developing their minds and pushing themselves to be the best version of themselves. Once they reach a certain point, they celebrate that win then look for the next opportunity to grow.
What I am advocating is that we should always be constantly looking to grow but at the same time take time every day to appreciate what we already have. To be thankful for everything we have. See below for a great practical example that you can use to start this critical habit.
“Gratefulness is a great building block to build the life you want”
Gratefulness Comes In the Forms of Lessons
Writing this post came at a great time for me. This last week has seen a cold snap for where I live in the UK and our boiler break, resulting in the purchase of a new one. Plus, it is that time of year for car registration and insurance plus we had some other house maintenance done in the last month as well. Now I will not bore you with the details, but these things cost money and take time to organise, and I am not trying to have a whinge or wine about it, I am just telling the reader what most people go through. It’s quite common.
How we look at these things will really be a lesson in gratefulness.
Are we angry because we have to take time out of our day to organise a tradesperson to come around and fix our problem or are we grateful that we literally have these people at the end of a phone call or the click of a mouse button?
Do we complain that the money that we saved for ourselves has to be sacrificed for a new boiler or are we grateful that we have the money to pay for it? Similarly, we may have to work extra or borrow money and pay it back, but should we be grateful that we have the opportunity to do that?
As usual I am not tossing any stones here because I am continually learning my lessons as well but all set backs will have a lesson to learn and a chance to be grateful. The ‘hardwork’ comes from turning every outcome into a lesson and gratefulness opportunity and making it into a habit.
Gratefulness From The Past
We all know how dangerous it is to hold onto the past. Not only does it steal our present moment joy but it also effects our futures as well as if you’ve read my previous posts you will remember that our present day thoughts create our futures. So, it really doesn’t bode well to dwell on the past.
However, taking a timed moment (don’t make my mistake and dwell for hours on end) and consciously reflect on why you should be grateful for things, events and people from the past and the lessons that they have taught you.
Should we be upset and hurt that we may have been racially profiled and bullied when we were younger or should we be grateful that it made us a better communicator in relationships and built up on resilient muscle?
Is it OK to dwell about the ‘stupid’ decisions we made when we were younger or use it as a catalyst for adopting new thoughts and stories about ourselves, building new routines and making different lives for ourselves?
Consciously make a habit to reflect for one, maybe two hours, and be grateful for the lessons that have been given to you. Once you have the lessons, focus on them, and make the lessons what you see when that thought comes back into your head. I put my hand up, I am continually working on this one.
Being Grateful Can Lift Moods and Cure Bad Temper-itus
Starting your day, ending your day, or reflecting during the day, through gratefulness is a great way to lift your mood. I am sure there is analytical and scientific research behind why this is so though I don’t think it is something I need to go into here. We all know that when we are truly grateful for what have, what we have been given and what we have to look to it is a super-good-so-lovely feeling that’s hard to top.
Similarly, if you’re in a bad mood, reflecting and telling yourself that you are so lucky to have what you have can be a great cure for those bad tempers. Now, please don’t mistake and think that everything should be lovely-dovey and the roses smell so nice today. I personally believe that we as human have to experience a full range of emotions to get the full human experience.
“After all, how would you know what being happy feels like if you’ve never experienced the opposite?”
Experience all the emotions, including the ‘not nice’ ones. though it could be wise to get into the habit of saying mantras to yourself such as,
“This is part of my human experience. We all go through the motions of emotions.”
“How I respond to these emotions is what will make me successful in this lifetime though it’s OK to feel sad now”
What other ones can you think of? Write them down and keep them as ammunition when you need them.
A huge component of learning is the doing. I personally, like to do my gratefulness work in the morning, though is can be whatever time for yourself. Try these exercises and watch you day change.
Every day when you wake up record 5 things that you are grateful for. Keep them as simple as possible. I’ll show you why.
Example: 1) I got up and out of bed.
2) I turned the light on in the bathroom.
3) I used to toilet.
4) I had a shower.
5) I walked downstairs to have breakfast.
Pretty simple routine, yes? But let’s see that same routine when we compare it to the rest of the world.
1) I got up and out of bed: First things first. You got out of bed. Think about how many people would love to get out of their bed but they can’t because of an illness or injury. Secondly, you have a bed? Fantastic! Be thankful for it. Due to economic reasons a lot of people outside the Western World do not sleep on beds.
2) I turned the light on in the bathroom: Depending on your research, approximately 1.3 billion people in the world do not have access to electricity. You are not one of those people.
3) I used the toilet: 2.4 billion people (at the time of writing) in the world do not have a toilet. Enough said!
4) I had a shower: Thankfully more people have access to clean water than they do sanitation. But not everyone has clean water close to their home, let alone in it. Secondly, you have hot water which comes out at the flick of a tap.
5) You walked downstairs, again, you have your mobility which a lot of people do not. You had breakfast, the most important meal of the day as they say. Well, look at it this way. It could be the only meal of the day for some or the only meal for the week for others. You are not in that position.
I am sure you can see how this simple exercise can really make a different to your mind-set. When you strip down your morning routine to the bare essentials, you will always find a reason to be grateful. Similarly, you can use this same exercise for different parts of the day – use it when it suits you best. Over time you will have an extensive list of things to be grateful for which you can always refer back to.
Using Gratefulness to Flip the Norm – Turning a Supposed Negative Into a Positive:
This exercise is another great one for us who live in the ‘Free World’. I call this exercise Flipping the Norm. Meaning, I think it is extremely beneficial, but more important extremely empowering, to take things or circumstances that we complain about in the ‘Free World’ and spin it into a positive which we can be grateful for. Let us look at an example which you can practise and master in your time using some of you own examples:
1) I have to pay tax: Hallelujah! Taxes are awesome! Living in a society where you pay tax means that you are living in a lucky country. Despite the common complaints from most pessimists, taxes are used for policies and infrastructures for the country in which you pay your tax.
Those smooth roads, the hospital care, education, sewage and sanitation, the collection of your rubbish bins are all great examples of what happens when people pay tax. Now I am not saying there is a ‘one way approach’ on how a country should spend their tax money, and it is no secret that sometimes those who have the power to allocate a society’s tax income make a few ‘booboos’. But on the whole, you should be jumping up and down that you get to pay tax.
Look at the alternative. A country with no democratic Government and no taxes is normally a poorer country with none of the policies and infrastructure which we take for granted every day. I know personally, when I was at the birth of my son, the amount of care that my partner received before, during and after the birth made me smile and appreciate the tax that I pay.
2) There is such a long line at the supermarket: That’s tremendous! Waiting in line forces us to take time out of our day to focus on us (unless you are in the unfortunate minority who have to be glued to their phone). The fact that we are waiting at a supermarket to buy our food means that we are not waiting for our crops to grow, because we are fortunate to live in a country which has supermarkets, which means food is literally ‘just down the road’.
Give ‘Flipping the Norm’ a try and use it with your friends. Next time someone complains about something, reverse the situation and tell them how lucky they are by breaking it down and looking for the positives. It sounds a bit corny but I’m sure you’ll agree it’s better than being a complainer!
Find a Mentor
Find someone who is happy, handles themselves confidently in any situation and has a real passion for life and I guarantee it will be because they have a strong element of gratefulness in their life. Talk to them, hang with them and be enthused by their zest and outlook on life. Adopt and learn from their mind-set and it will rub off on you.
Article In A Nutshell
Like all things associated with your personal journey, there is no need to go out and buy something that will help you improve your life and happiness. Everything you need to is already inside you. The same is true for gratefulness. It is not discriminatory, and you can adopt you new attitude for gratitude right now. What’s stopping you?