If you’ve been on your own personal development journey for any amount of time you’ve undoubtedly met with some challenges along the way. Challenges aren’t a bad thing. They can certainly be difficult, but provided we are willing to accept it as part of the process, they can bring forth some pretty awesome opportunities from which to grow and become better for having experienced them.
Again, it’s not about things being easy, it’s about working through whatever you happen to be facing, and ultimately accepting that you will emerge better and more prepared as a result of having overcome or worked through whatever given adversities you’ve had to deal with.
Gratitude — a source of fuel to move you forward during the difficult times…
I found the following definition of gratitude: “a feeling of thankfulness and appreciation”
While that definition is a good start, I think gratitude is so much more than that. Particularly when we begin to explore all the different ways it can serve us.
Something magical happens when you and I take the time to recount all the things we have to be thankful for in our lives. The past, present, and even the hopes we have for the future.
First, a sense of gratitude allows us to reconnect with our past achievements. This can serve as a powerful reminder that in-spite of whatever doubts we may have about our abilities in the present moment, we are capable of reaching whatever destination we desire for ourselves. That is to say that we can change our circumstances and lot in life to a more desirable one.
The proof is found in the very fact that in the past we have done so, and as such we are more than capable of doing so again. Looking back on, and reconnecting with positive experiences and past achievements as you can see is a particularly powerful way to go about providing fuel for your current goals and dreams.
If you will accept the ideas above to be true then the question inevitably becomes what is the best way to go about expressing gratitude in your day to day life. The answer, to put it bluntly is to express it however it most feels right to you!
Since I don’t know what that is in your unique situation I’ll have to settle on showing you some of the ways I go about it on a daily basis. Before I do so, please keep in mind what I often say, “personal development is a hands on project”, which is to say that other people’s ideas are great, but you should be looking for ways to adapt and make whatever ideas you want to try your own.
Don’t assume that something doesn’t work because it isn’t a fit for you. While at the same time, don’t assume something is wrong with you because a particular idea isn’t right for you. It’s not about right or wrong. It’s about adapting what works into your life, and giving yourself permission to kick to the curb whatever doesn’t happen to resonate with you.
Now that I’ve gotten that rather long disclaimer out of the way, as promised here are some of the ideas I use to allow gratitude to work in my life.
1. Upon waking up I begin running through my mind various things I’m thankful for. Inevitably one thing, person, or event will lead to another. This is a very laid back experience, all the while I’m trying to remain in the moment, but not forcing it. If I find my mind moving onto other thoughts or ideas I’ll gently bring myself back to this simple exercise.
When I do this, almost immediately I can see my current state perk up a bit — and I take on a more positive outlook. I find it a simple, yet highly effective way to start my day off on the right foot. I believe you will as well!
2. Throughout the day, I like to write down and record what I call my “daily wins”. It’s worth pointing out that these aren’t always monumental achievements. In fact, to the outside observer many of the accomplishments which get written down might appear down right mundane.
The point of the exercise mentioned above is to remind myself of something I discovered a long time ago. That being, the idea that what it takes to meet with success in virtually any endeavor requires a lot of little accomplishments along the way.
When I’m speaking to groups I’ll often say that the path to “success” is paved with more than its share of boring moments. Meaning that contrary to popular opinion, when one looks back on a worthwhile accomplishment, there’s rarely one particular event with which they can credit being totally responsible for having allowed them to reach the pinnacle of success.
Rather, if we’re honest with ourselves we would likely have to agree that more often then not it’s a matter of doing those tasks, day in and day out which were required of us. The journey, you see, takes many forms. Certainly at times things are fast paced and exciting, but at others persistence and stick-to-itness are required.
If you’re not already tracking your day to day achievements I’d strongly encourage you to get started. The benefits of doing so are many, not the least of which is that you’ll have a trail to look back and read over when you find yourself feeling as though you’re not quite as plugged into your dream as you wish you were. You’ll have proof positive that you’re making progress right in front of you. Then, at the end of each day as you look through your list of “wins” you can take a moment to be grateful.
3. Take a walk and literally recite out loud to yourself all the things, people, and experiences for which you have to be grateful for. I have to give credit to my colleague, friend, and fellow speaker & author Jon Gordon for this idea.
While I had actually been doing this for a long time prior to first hearing Jon mention it, he deserves credit for putting the name “gratitude walk” to it, and in turn helping to validate in my mind that it was a worthwhile thing to do (and that no matter what my neighbors who happened to see me talking to myself might think, I wasn’t actually nuts for doing so. ha ha :-)).
It sounds like a simple idea, but I would challenge you to give it a try. If you will do so, I believe that in relatively short order you’ll find it to be a welcome addition to your routine.
As I’ve illustrated above, expressing gratitude is a powerful thing. It can literally change your state from one in which you may be feeling doubt towards one of hope, and a sense of literally being filled with encouragement. It can put you in a mode to accept the good that surrounds all of us, while acting as a sort of shield from the part of our minds that wants to seek out and look for the negatives in life. Give a few of the ideas above a try. If you have other ideas which work for you I would appreciate it if you would share them!
It’s your life, LIVE BIG!
– What are your thoughts on the ideas above? What are some ways you go about expressing gratitude? Please share your thoughts and feedback in the comments below.