You know what’s all the rage these days? Gratitude.
And for good reason.
Apart from making us happier, gratitude is good for our health and careers, makes us less self-centred, boosts our self-esteem and makes us more resilient. (Want more? This guy actually compiled the results of over 40 studies on gratitude and found more than 31 benefits. You’re welcome.)
So why aren’t more of us practising daily gratitude then? Most likely because it’s boring.
Well ok – maybe it’s just me who found it boring. The first time I tried doing gratitude the ‘usual’ way (by recording a daily gratitude in a diary) I only lasted five days.
Clearly I hadn’t given it a proper shot, so I gave it another go. And again petered out after five days. I was really determined to get on the gratitude bandwagon however. So I went looking for different ways to join in the fun.
1. Practice relentless gratitude.
AJ Jacobs is an author and self-described human guinea pig. His books involve him first immersing himself in an extreme way of living … then writing about it. His most recent book is The Year of Living Biblically and one of the things he practiced during the year of immersion for that book was giving thanks. For everything.
Like waking up in the morning and giving thanks for the fact you’ve woken up. Getting out of bed and giving thanks that your legs work. Having a shower and giving thanks for the ready stream of water … and the fact that it’s hot. Going to fridge and giving thanks for the food in there.
Jacobs says not too many things stick with him once the period of extreme immersion is over but this is one that did. He found it interesting how we take all the good stuff in our days for granted and fixate on the one or two bad things that happen.
And then let those one or two things ruin our day. He found when he focused on the hundreds of things that went right every day, the few things that didn’t go right didn’t rock his world as much.
So I gave relentless gratitude a shot and it totally worked. The big and little things that used to really annoy me, I now find it really hard to get revved up about them when I’ve already had 100 odd things go my way in any given day.
2. Celebrate abundance.
This one I pinched from a guy called James Altucher: celebrate the abundance you have in your life as an antidote to the things that are annoying you. Altucher gives the example of sitting frustrated in peak hour traffic one day. So he looks for the abundance in the situation.
He now has an abundance of time to listen to music.
There is an abundance of time to spend with the people who are in the car with him.
So the other day, as I stared at my heaving inbox, wanting to cry at all the headaches those emails held, I turned it around.
Sure there was an abundance of problems but that meant there was an abundance of ways I could help people and make their days better (by solving those problems for them). All of the sudden I felt a lot better – both about my inbox and the day ahead of me.