Gratefulness – the practical guide

As I’ve promised before, I’m putting the theory behind gratefulness into practice. Not too long ago I’ve considered this topic as something very philosophical, as something extremely hard to grasp.

This was a serious mistake. Learning to be grateful is about as possible as learning a new language: it’s not necessarily easy, you may not even feel successful while doing it, but it is guaranteed to change how you perceive the world. And I mean guaranteed. Even if you fail at lesson 1 and never pursue it again, much like I did when I tried to learn Swedish.

Let’s break this guide into two parts, long and short-term ideas. And also, let’s start by looking at the long-term solutions, just so you could learn a little patience.

WRITE A JOURNAL!

Now this might come across as something childish, but come on! Journaling can be fun. Moreover, this kind of journaling will turn around your mindset and attitude.

Designate a specific time of the day, preferably in the evening. During evening commute, maybe? Think back on any single thing, person, event, etc. during the last 24 hours that made you grateful. It might be the best thing in your life so far, or something of barely any significance. Just a little something that made you grateful that day.

The only important thing is to write it down! It might be a OneNote sheet, or a paper notebook. I prefer the paper based stuff, but follow your own dreams. (I’m using a limited edition Harry Potter – Marauder’s Map themed notebook my Moleskine, and it’s cool as heck.)

This will create a habit of reflecting, which is helpful on its own, while it also enforces your grateful mindset. Oh, and a free magic trick: if you ever feel down, just read your journal. Cool, right?

Re-wire your brain

Easier said, than done, no? No. It’s pretty easy after all.

It might be a cliché but all this stuff boils down to one thing: attitude. If you can change that, it’s half of the battle. Here’s a challenge for you: go ahead and express your gratitude, every single time you have the opportunity. This way you can reframe how your mind reacts to situations, which is the key to your attitude. Remember, expressing a feeling reinforces it – so go ahead and reinforce gratefulness.

Acting right now

The two techniques above can help you to change on the long run, but won’t give an immediate resolution to problems. I’m sharing another two ideas that can help you to fix your current mood instead of the more steady attitude.

The first one you can do is to pause life for a moment. Actually, I’d suggest you to take short pauses often, and a longer and more meaningful break every now and then. Take a break from work, take a walk. Or even better, learn something new that’s completely unrelated to what you do every day. Listen to a podcast, read an article from National Geographic, or watch a TED video. It shouldn’t be a work-related training though; the purpose of this exercise is to save you from drowning in the tides of tasks and to-dos.

The other idea is to give back. Someone helped you? Return the favor – bonus points for paying it forward: don’t just return a favor, do something positive to someone new.

All in all, with these techniques you can both achieve a long-term change in how you look at the world (and yourself) and give you a temporary boost when needed. Let me know if you’ve seen a positive change (comments below), or follow me on FacebookInstagram or Twitter.

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