“The attitude of gratitude can change everything”. This I have found to be true. Whatever your situation is, there is always something to be grateful for. Like right now. You’re probably sitting at a screen reading this? Even in this moment alone, there is so much to be grateful for. The happiest people have the ability to be grateful for every little thing; each breath they take or any basic human need they have. But for some of us, thinking this way all of the time, especially in the face of adversity, is tough to do.
I’ll admit that only recently, gratitude has been a practice for me to personally work on every day. Not that I would consider myself ungrateful, but I never realized until this year that there is a powerful strategy to it. When done with your full attention, gratitude can work like magic.
Not too long ago, I decided I would be moving back home after graduating university. As time got closer to graduation day, I began secluding myself and gradually feeling more stressed about my decision; I would be moving back in with my parents and I had all of these amazing friends across the country I wouldn’t be able to see, but I had this small hope that maybe I would find my career path back home. After moving, I realized that I still didn’t have my life figured out the way I thought I would. At this point, I was in a constant state of “poor me” and all I could see was the “bad”. I had lost my energy, confidence, and desire to take control of my life until January rolled around and I had the chance to go to a conference in LA with a friend. On the last day of this conference, we were given a gratitude challenge:
“Write 10 things to be grateful for and send love to three people that are bothering you.“
Usually, it takes several attempts for me to commit to something new but this one felt necessary to start right away. So the gratitude challenge began that day and has continued. Every day. For the rest of the year.
Within the first week, I kept a notepad on my desk at work, and every morning I wrote 10 things to be grateful for, then I sent love to 3 people who were bothering me. I had a rough start to this, and actually cried every morning that week (I clearly had some pent up issues. You can laugh, I’m laughing now). It felt like I was working through knots in my brain. Initially, I was overwhelmed with guilt for being so ungrateful, and for the bad energy I was sending to people I felt bothered by. Eventually, the guilt subsided and I realized the bad energy I was sending to others was putting more bad energy on myself than anyone else.
This newfound gratitude brought about the fastest mental adjustment I had ever experienced. As humans, if we are facing challenges in our life, most of us have a tendency to fixate on that problem. For me, I was putting all of my energy into the problem. By putting energy into the problem, I was making the problem grow.
I knew that fixing your mind on the good surrounds you with the good. But after the first month of intentionally practicing and analysing this, I noticed that making a habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, giving thanks continuously, makes happiness and harmony happen.
But, as life goes, bad things happen that you can’t always control. This was the real test. And this was the challenge:
“When something bad happens, stop what you’re doing and block everything. Think about all of the things you are grateful for, then harvest the good.”
I did this quite literally. A mistake at work, a car accident, a health scare, anytime I felt my “panic mode” kicking in, I stopped everything and read my little list of things to be grateful for, sometimes over and over again, then continued on to find the “good” in the situation. This felt like a tall order at times, but when I followed through, the payoff was huge.
I knew this gratitude practice was working when people started approaching me because of my “energy”; It seemed like I had job offers and collaboration opportunities just handed to me (maybe I was recognizing these moments and not taking them for granted anymore). But most importantly, when it came to my own self-control, problems that once seemed too big to handle became manageable, and control over my life was regained.
It hasn’t been the whole year yet, but for the first time, I have learnt how to bring harmony into my life. I know what I need to do to start my day and what to do when a problem occurs. Obviously, every day is not going to be a big Kumbaya, but when life throws you a curve-ball, the gratitude list can allow you to not get lost in the problem, it instead allows you to sort your thoughts and see the “big picture”. Life goes on, and you have these 10 things to be so grateful for always with you.
My advice to anyone now is to make a habit of gratitude. Just start by writing 10 things to be grateful for. Keep this as a note in your wallet, phone, or by your desk. Know that it’s there for any situation. Then take a minute or two to genuinely send love to three people that are bothering you.
Try this daily for just one month. I guarantee you will notice an immediate shift just like I did.