I used to be a hardcore complainer.
My brother even got me the book "A Complaint-Free World" for Christmas one year (okay, okay, I get the hint!)
I used to lose sight of all I had because I was too busy complaining about what I didn't have or too frustrated about what was wrong with what I did have. Cynicism and negativity were my norm and people who were happy all the time bugged me (okay, maybe I was just super envious of them).
I'm not like that anymore.
Now I'M one of those happy people! Other than changing my diet (bye bye sugar, hello veggies), the practice that I've consistently incorporated into my life that was a game changer for me was expressing gratitude.
STUDIES SHOW THAT PEOPLE WHO ADOPT AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE...
- Are happier
- Are more optimistic
- Experience less anxiety and depression
- Have better quality of sleep
- Are kinder toward others
- Are more relaxed
- Are more productive at work
- Experience an increase in energy levels
So I gave it a try. I started by just saying aloud what I was grateful for as I was laying in bed with the lights off.
Then I decided that writing it down would be more powerful, so I used to write what I was grateful for on a small strip of paper and put it in a mason jar (or my "Gratitude Jar"). A few months later I emptied the jar and read everything that was inside. Now THAT was cool.
But the practice that I've enjoyed the most and have done the most consistently has been writing it down in a journal, the last thing I do as I'm laying in bed, right before I turn off the lights.
It's not only something I look forward to doing each night, but I've noticed it really has changed my mindset.
This practice has helped me maintain perspective, which has significantly reduced my levels of stress and has helped me shift my "default" mindset from focusing on the negative to focusing on the positive.
It's also helped me attract more positive things into my life and has helped me to be more present instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
I've been incorporating this gratitude practice for long enough that now I have "trained" myself to see the positive, the gift, and the lesson in everything. It's an entirely new and incredible way of experiencing life.
Personally, I think everyone could benefit from this exercise. It's free, it's easy, it doesn't take up a lot of time, and the results are life changing. Are you ready to give it a try?
HERE'S HOW TO DO IT:
1. Get yourself a notebook (doesn't have to be anything fancy...you can use scrap paper if you want!) and keep it by your bed along with a pen (I keep mine in the drawer of my nightstand)
2. Every night after you get into bed, take out your notebook and pen. Jot down the date at the top of the page and start writing.
- What are you grateful for?
- Who are you grateful for?
- Why are you grateful for those things/situations/people?
If you're exhausted and can't keep your eyes open for more than 30 seconds, just write down one thing. For example, these are some of mine:
- I'm grateful that I'm alive.
- I'm grateful that I can afford to live a mile from the ocean.
- I'm grateful that I have strong and functioning legs that made it possible for me to run today.
- I'm grateful that mom and dad made it safely home to New York and had an uneventful flight.
- I'm grateful for everyone on my email list, followers on social media, and every client I have ever worked with.
- I'm grateful for the kind man who held the door open for me today.
Have more time or a lot on your mind? Take as much time as you want to get it all out on paper.
I typically spend 1 to 5 minutes on this exercise and it's totally worth it. The last thing I think about before I go to sleep is positive, no matter what happened earlier in the day.
If you prefer, feel free to do this exercise first thing in the morning so you start your day in a positive state of mind. Or do both!
I know you have 1 to 5 minutes per day that you can devote to this exercise. If you don't have at least 1 minute to spare each day, I encourage you to take a look at how you spend your time. Are you overextending yourself with too many jobs, projects, and commitments? Are you spending too much time on the computer or watching TV?
Today I challenge you to a 30 Days of Gratitude Challenge. Are you in?
Adopt an attitude of gratitude and notice how your life transforms from this simple act alone!