Everyone knows that there are choices we can make and habits we can create to improve our life. Ironically, the easiest of these is arguably the most powerful.
Many of us grew up with the idea that gratitude means thanking someone when they do something for you: holding a door open, or picking up a book you dropped, or maybe even giving up a seat on a crowded subway. And while all these acts are reasons to be thankful, there is another aspect of gratitude that, when practiced regularly, can have transformative impacts on not just your life, but the lives of everyone around you as well.
In a world where so much focus is placed on achieving more, having more, doing more, the concept of success is all too often tied to what we don’t have rather than what we do. It’s understandable how we can get caught in the trap of believing we are falling short when we don’t have the same level of “success” as other people.
Success, however, isn’t a universally defined term. Far from it. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to break free from society’s notion of success and start defining it for yourself and your life. That’s where the power of gratitude comes in.
All of us have things we are grateful for. All of us. There’s no doubt it can be challenging to find them when it feels like everything is going wrong and life itself is out to get you. But that’s the most crucial time to step back, take a deep breath, and start searching.
As with any other new practice you implement in your life, start small. You don’t decide to run a marathon without first putting in the miles one day at a time. An extremely important key to success when it comes to implementing the power of gratitude in your life is to keep a journal. It doesn’t have to be something formal or sophisticated. It can be a simple spiral notebook. The point is to put down on paper those things you’re grateful for instead of merely giving thought to them. That makes them tangible. Makes them real.
It's also a great way to hold yourself accountable to practicing gratitude on a regular basis. And, like everything else, the more consistent you are with the practice of gratitude, the more powerful the benefits will be. Every day, try to come up with five to ten things that you’re grateful for, and don’t forget to write them down.
Pretty soon, you’ll find yourself looking for things to be grateful for throughout your day so you can include them in your journal. That is when the power of gratitude will begin to change your life and the lives of those around you. Without even realizing it, as you open your mind to gratitude, all those stressful and negative aspects of life won’t seem quite as bad anymore.
Perspective dictates reality. Sometimes that can be a difficult concept to embrace—it’s never been proven, and it’s easy for skeptics to dismiss. But that doesn’t mean it’s not true. The only way to find out for sure is to prove it to yourself, and that proof begins with gratitude.
As we get ready to celebrate the national day of thanks, make a commitment to yourself and take the first step toward transforming your outlook on life. You’ll forever be grateful that you did.