The practice of gratitude can be incredibly powerful and life-altering. November is a great time to commit to giving thanks on a regular basis. Don’t wait for Turkey Day, start today and continue long after your feast has been digested.
We may think that we are generally grateful people but turning gratitude into a methodical and deliberate practice can help change the way that you view the world and how you feel about your life. It’ a whole lot more effective than many things that we commonly turn to ease our stress.
I recommend formalizing the practice by keeping a daily gratitude journal and listing at least ten things you are grateful for every day. The more you can list and the more frequently you practice, the more powerful the results.
Some days may be more difficult than others to write a list. When we are having one of those days where everything is going wrong, it can be particularly challenging. It can also be hard when we are in the middle a serious crisis. On those days, double up and list twenty things, instead of ten, that you are grateful for. What’s important is that we train our minds to look for things to be thankful for every day, no matter what the chaos du jour is. If you’re stuck, walk over to your nearest faucet and admire the way the water flows freely and cleanly. It’s a privilege not everyone in the world shares. Or, check out those two legs that are healthy enough to hold your body weight and walk. Add standing upright to your list.
No matter how mechanical it may feel, or how reluctantly you may approach it both the purpose and the result of this practice is a retraining of the mind to look for the good in every situation. What starts out as you forcing yourself to come up with items for the list, will eventually evolve into the mind on its own naturally seeing the positive.
Since our experience is 100% linked to our perspective, when you change your perspective, you become a happier person.
The Busy Myth
If we can ever hope to find any semblance of lasting happiness and inner peace, we need to mindfully reject the idea that it's desirable or admirable to be busy all the time. It's our responsibility to say to society, no. I'm just not buying into that busy BS. I'd like to prioritize my health and well-being. I'd like to find a balance between effort and ease.
As technology advanced and we became better connected over the last few decades, paradigms about productivity shifted. This slowly re-defined what was expected of employees. Remember the days when only doctors wore beepers and were expected to be on-call? Now across almost every industry there's an expectation that workers, from entry level to the top of the organization, be available and checking email 24x7.
The paradox, is that this is creating a society of stressed out, depressed, and anxious people who are not as productive at work as they could be if they learned the technique of occasionally disconnecting completely.
Yes, we should all work hard and be dedicated to our jobs. I certainly am. But as a practice, you can also implement the technique of shutting down from time to time. Think of it as ctrl+alt+del for your brain.
This might sound radical, but you can choose to take 24 hours to respond to a text. Ask yourself, is this message an emergency? If it's not an emergency, let it wait.
You can also reclaim one weekend day and decide you aren't checking email. All day.
Another great practice is taking a three day vacation from the news cycle. We don't need to stay connected to every sensational thing that happens worldwide or every stupid thing your least favorite politician says. You can make a decision to give your mind a break. I guarantee it will all be there when you come back.
Last, but not least, please forget about the Kardashians. You do not need to keep up with them anymore. Their lives are really none of your business, anyway.
Now that you have freed up a little time and left the phone and the laptop turned off at home, get yourself into the woods.
Breathe. Put both hands on a tree. Maybe take your shoes off and have your toes sink into the soil for a moment. Spend some time watching a single leaf's journey to the ground.
Allow Mother Earth to heal you from this busy-sickness and toward inner peace.
Simple practices. Happier life.