What is gratitude?
Being grateful is taking time to be thankful for all the blessings and amazing things you have in your life.
It doesn't matter how old you are or what colour you are. Adding a practice of gratitude to your daily life will add value to your life that you didn't even realise was possible. There is so much evidence in the world telling people they shouldn't be happy until they've got that new car, new clothing, new phone, until they are skinny with a cover model body or until they are millionaire. Don't get too busy caught up chasing happiness that you forget to be happy. No physical product could bring the same sort of happiness I feel when I focus on the fact I have a loving relationship with my girlfriend, or that my parents have always loved me no matter how bad the decisions were that I was making. If you have access to running water, food and a roof over your head, you're doing better than the majority of the world. Surely theres gotta be some appreciation for the fact you're born with privileges that a large percentage of the world only dream of. We live in a time where someone will spend a massive chunk of wages on the iPhone 6, only to be angry at the world that they haven't got the iPhone 6s. Where in your own life are you taking your blessings for granted? Do you know somebody in your own life who has it all and is sad and someone else who doesn't have much but is happy) To explain the previous point for you, I am going to get you to think of someone in your own life. I'm pretty sure that you know somebody who has it all, but doesn't appreciate or respect what they have and as a result, they are always chasing the next burst of happiness? Well this is the exact opposite of gratitude and it is a slippery slope to go down as if you're always chasing the next big thing, how long until you can't afford the next big thing or it doesn't give you same pleasure it once did?
I'm guessing in your own life, there is something you take for granted (a person, your car, your pet, your Saturday-night outfit). Well think back to how excited you were back when you first met this person or experienced the 'thing' and I can almost guarantee that you don\t treat it with the same levels of appreciation now. And this is why relationships are so amazing at the start, because they both appreciate each other like they're Jesus and when Jesus asks you for a favour, you jump at the opportunity but if someone you appreciate less asks you, you might flip out or do it with resentment for the person because you've forgotten the brilliance of this thing/person. Because we live in a consumer generation, we are bombarded with messages that say we're not good enough and we need the next product to make us happy (this is how advertising works, the advertiser makes you feel like their product is the exact thing you need to upgrade your life) from the moment we wake up. Facebook. TV. Adverts. Radio. Youtube. You name it and there will be some sort of advertisement at play. Don't fall into the pile of millions/billions of consumers. Be a creator. Be grateful for what you have, you don't need the newest model of car to go around with a smile on your face enjoying your life. If you train yourself to be grateful, you will find happiness everywhere you look and these products are just a bonus on top of it all.
How to become more grateful
Right, you now know why you need to be more grateful, but here at Constant Kaizen, we like to give you actionable advice you can implement into your life straight away so here are our 3 favourite ways of boosting your gratitude muscles:
Writing a diary/journal is a brilliant habit to have, not only does it have multiple benefits in the moment such as clearing your brain & sharper thinking, but looking back on your entries from 6 months, 1 year – 5 years ago can be massively entertaining. It doesn't have to be complicated, all you have to do is write down some reasons as to why you're grateful. What a lot of people get caught up in doing is just writing down some reasons quickly. What I like to do is take my time, write 3 things I'm grateful for and I like to also think of as many reasons why i'm grateful for this thing and I find when I do this, I feel a lot more grateful afterwards and you find out a lot about yourself.
Affirmations are a powerful tool when used correctly, all you do is just repeat a statement over and over again and what I try to do is either brainwash myself with messages like 'I am grateful' but I like to add my own twist to it and ask 'Why am I so grateful' over and over again and the strangest thing happens, while I'm saying it, the voice in the back of my head keeps suggesting things i'm grateful for. I like to do this whilst i'm driving and it is a massive source of happiness for me. It certainly makes a difference to hearing about all the death, murder and corruption on the radio. Next time you're walking somewhere or out in the car, why not affirm a positive message out loud and at first it may feel a bit strange but after the first few times, it starts to really effect how you feel (which then in turn, changes the way you interact with the world – you might come across slightly different if you're focusing on what you're grateful for instead of how unlucky you are and how much you hate the world)
Talk to someone
This option doesn't come up as often as it should, and it is to have a conversation with someone about things that you are grateful for and you will find that once you start doing this, you will want to make it a regular part of your schedule. The easiest and most fun way to do this is to get your other half, family member or even just a friend (bonus points if you can start a gratitude conversation with a stranger) and you just discuss with each other various things that you're grateful for in your life and the reasons why you're grateful. This may seem strange at first as it seems like the world prides itself on how stressed and busy they can make their lives and how shit work was and how someone looked at them funny so it ruined their day. Be different. Add a smile to peoples faces, not another reason to be pissed off at the world. Leave everything you touch better than what it started as. Be an alchemist, when you're given rock, turn it into gold – lemons into lemonade – failures into fuel for your success.
Morning and Evening Habit
We've all been there a million times, you wake up and you start the day with the intentions of being happy and going through your day with a smile on your face but before you know it, we're caught up in 'life' and are getting ragged left, right, left, right, forwards and backwards and it's suddenly bed time, with the thought of work in the morning eating away at you. This was my routine for a long time, but the seemingly simple practice of expressing what you're grateful for completely transformed my life (no exaggeration). I now try and always start and finish my day with a gratitude practice as it puts me in a great mood and I also start my day in a happy manner, and go to sleep happy too.(Control the start and last part of your day – even if its taking 2 minutes to quickly write down a few things you're grateful for. Think i'm hyping it up? Try it for 10 days and if it hasn't changed anything, email us)
It's impossible to be worrying and also being grateful at the same time.
Law of attraction
Ever heard of the law of attraction? Well the basic premise of the idea is that once you're focusing on something, you're subconscious filters will then let anything of that nature through, so if you start focusing on things that you're grateful for, you will start feeling and finding things to be grateful for everywhere you look. (The fact you can even see this blog post right now means you're more privileged than a lot of the planet.)
The way your brain works, every time you perform a new action, a 'neural pathway' is created and this is basically a muscle, because every time you then repeat that action, the muscle becomes stronger and stronger. But you also have a muscle/neural pathway for being ungrateful or wanting more and over your lifetime, it's probable that this muscle has had a daily workout (moaning to friends, feeling sorry for yourself, getting angry or upset about your situation) and because of this, your gratitude muscle is weak and skinny but your negative neural paths/muscles have a 6 pack on top of a 6 pack and they try to take over every time you want to think positive (the little voice in your head telling you you're not good enough, you can't do it etc)
Right, there you go, thats my thoughts on gratitude and if I was going to recommend you implement 1 thing as a habit, it would be this. No exaggeration when I say I think it will change your life.
*CHALLENGE – WRITE DOWN 1 THING THAT YOU'RE GRATEFUL FOR RIGHT NOW AND THEN LIST A FEW REASONS WHY YOU'RE GRATEFUL.*
START TAKING ACTION TODAY – GIVE THAT GRATITUDE MUSCLE A WORKOUT!
Want more info on gratitude? Check out any of the following.