Updated: May 7
I talk a lot about visioning and dreaming and creating a compelling future for yourself. Where does it start though? Is it all waiting for you tomorrow, next week, next year or when the conditions are just right?
How do we connect our lives as they are NOW with our desired future and how do we ensure that our today is contributing to the tomorrow that we want? The answer lies in practising gratitude.
Making conscious, committed decisions that lead to change, forming new habits and adopting a new mindset are all essential ingredients to success and fulfilment but it all begins with taking stock and appreciating life as it is; actively and consciously being grateful for the blessings in your life; the positive aspects of life (and work) that make you feel happy.
Gratitude is the ultimate proactive approach you can take to furthering your happiness, contentment and fulfilment levels.
‘It puts all in perspective doesn’t it?’
We’ve all experienced that moment when we receive bad news or hear of a rough time someone is experiencing – it stops us in our tracks and shifts our perspective and energy. Immediately, our so-called problems and challenges are reframed and seem minute in comparison.
The stress of family life returns to being a blessing, too much work, too many presents to buy, too many parties to attend – all return to being the blessings they are when we put them in perspective!
It is human nature to take for the granted that which brings us happiness (known in psychology as hedonic adaptation). When you have a positive happy experience in life – e.g. move into a new house, buy a new pair of shoes or even meet someone special, after the initial excitement and spike in happiness, you get used to whatever makes you feel happy - it becomes normal, you take it for granted. You get caught up in the everyday grind and become reactive to your circumstances.
But, if you choose (you have a choice) to frame things with gratitude - your world becomes a different place. The power of actively being grateful allows us to create a new pattern of thinking.
Through gratitude, we become greater participants in our lives as opposed to passengers or spectators.
Science backs it up!
The benefits of gratitude are now scientifically proven and are far reaching! It affects our mental and emotional wellbeing – it reduces anxiety and depression, promotes social connection, increases our empathy and compassion levels, increases our resilience, confidence, energy and impacts on our sleep and physical health!
In one study, by Dr. Robert Emmons (University of California) 300 participants were split into 3 groups and asked to write down a few sentences each week throughout the experience on the following:
Group 1 - things they were grateful for.
Group 2 - irritations or things that had displeased them.
Group 3 - events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative).
After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. It also emerged that they exercised more and had fewer visits to the doctor than Group 2 who were focused on sources of aggravation and annoyance.
Is gratitude an emotion, habit, personality trait, coping mechanism, virtue, state of mind, choice, action? It can be all of the above. Imagine the power you have within your grasp.
But what about my Career?
Career and life (in my opinion) are not separate entities – what impacts life and your mindset and attitude will ultimately impact on your career. Gratitude enhances and impacts on your goal achievement, decision-making skills, mindset, self-concept, expectations, ambition, openness to opportunity, satisfaction levels and productivity!
You will think more creatively and expansively from a place of gratitude and abundance in your mind rather than from a place of lack or ‘not having’.
How can I bring more gratitude into my life?
1. Build gratitude by actively appreciating what is and refocus your mind on everyday experiences – this takes effort initially but it is well worth it. How you frame your experience ultimately influences your experience. It is that simple – frame your experience consciously with gratitude.
2. Be mindful. Look around you – what do you see, hear, smell, experience – take a moment to breathe it all in and appreciate it without judgement or comment or without planning ahead. Be calm and slow. Meditate.
3. Like any habit or process to enhance your wellbeing, it needs to become part of your life and part of your mindset so you need to be consistent with it until you take it for granted!! Gratitude makes you happier - being happy encourages more gratitude - it is self-perpetuating.
4. Say thank you – communicate with those people in your life that make a huge impact on you! Write a letter or note or send a message – you know they know but they will love hearing it.
5. Write out what you are grateful for in a journal/notebook – even simply naming 3 things that you’re grateful for on a given day before you go to sleep will impact your wellbeing!
What are you grateful for today?
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