Photo by Gabrielle Henderson

“The more you are grateful for what you have, the more you have to be grateful for”

Zig Ziglar

It has been demonstrated time and time again that altruistic people live happier lives. In a study referred to in an Inc. magazine article entitled Gratitude Physically Changes Your Brain, researchers found that practicing gratitude seems to kick off a healthful, self-perpetuating cycle in your brain. It increases willpower and helps keep you calm. The study performed at the Indiana University led by Prathik Kini recruited forty-three subjects suffering from anxiety or depression. Half of the people in the group were asked to write letters of thanks/gratitude to people in their lives. All forty-three underwent brains scans three months later and those that practiced gratitude showed a significant pattern of activity in their brain described as “profound” and “long-lasting” neural effects. Basically, the results suggest that, by identifying what you are thankful for now, it makes it easier to count your blessings later. As a result, the more good you see in your life, the happier and more successful you are likely to be.

I once saw Neil Pasricha, author of The Book of Awesome and The Happiness Equation deliver a keynote speech at an awards ceremony where I was one of a number of leaders being honoured. At the time, his blog “1000 Awesome Things” was all the rage. He shared with the audience that he started writing this blog as a form of personal therapy. He had recently separated from his wife and lost his best friend to suicide. To keep himself sane, he decided to post one thing a day that to him, was awesome. Most of these were trivial things that we take for granted every day such as hitting a bunch of green lights in a row, bakery air, or when you suddenly remember it is a long weekend. Trivial, but nonetheless quite awesome.

He did a little exercise with the 1000-plus people in the auditorium and asked us to write one thing we thought was awesome and to share it with our neighbour. Imagine the air in the room as everyone reflected on and shared something that made them feel good. Such energy! I remember leaving there that evening thinking wow, such a simple, yet powerful practice. When we take the time to really think about all of the wonderful things in life that make us smile, we begin to truly appreciate all of the beauty in our world.

The happier you are, the more you recognize and appreciate the value of life and the preciousness of time. You become more intentional in your choices and consciously make an effort to spend time doing the things you enjoy and spend less time saying “yes” to things you don’t enjoy. This is one vicious cycle you want to be on!

Practicing Gratitude – Quick Tips

  1. Keep a positive note box. Write down one good or positive thing that happened that day and put it in a box. Be sure to include who you were with at the time and date it. At end of year or the beginning of each season, read all the notes.
  2. Keep a gratitude journal and record one to three things you are grateful for each day.
  3. If you keep a traditional journal, end each journal entry with something you are grateful for that has already happened then something you are grateful for that you want to happen in the future (something you desire). For example, I am grateful for the opportunity to work in job that I love and I am grateful for the promotion that I received. (The promotion not actually having happened yet). This plants a seed and wires your brain to start thinking about how to get what you desire.

If this resonates with you, be sure to pick up a copy of my book YOUR EXTRAORDINARY SELF for more tips on how to wire your brain to get what you desire – helping you be the best possible version of yourself you can be.  Always remember #AnythingsPossible