To Be Great, Be Grateful
Did you know your brain is NOT designed to make you happy? I know this might be alarming to you, but your brain has only one primary responsibility—to keep you alive. Thus your brain is constantly on the lookout for danger and attack warnings. Your brain is programmed specifically to seek out the negative.
This is a problem if you desire love, prosperity and happiness—those things beyond simply safety.
Left unguided (as most do), your brain will stew in the negative all day, every day of your life. The conundrum is—what you think about comes about. Where your attention goes, energy flows, thus the direction your life takes.
This is where the power of gratitude comes in. If you want to direct your life in a positive direction, you have to redirect your mind towards abundance and what’s positive by forcing it to focus it on what you are grateful for.
If you want to become great, you have to focus on being grateful. You can change any situation in your life by simply redirecting your mind to focus on what’s right about it versus what is wrong.
I have a Thanksgiving Challenge for you. Of the many insights shared in The Compound Effect, one repeatedly I am told has made a profound difference is the story of the Thanksgiving Journal (read the excerpt below). My challenge to you is to think of an area of your life you are having difficulty in and want to improve. For the next 21 days, take three minutes at the end of the day and write down what about that problematic situation you appreciate, what’s good and what you’re grateful for. This could be a confrontational co-worker at the office, your job as a whole or your troubled marriage… anything or anyone that frustrates or negatively affects you.
I promise you, when you change how you look at a situation, the situation changes.
Who is up for this simple challenge? Come on, reading this blog won’t help you. As Johann Von Goethe said, “Knowing is not enough; we must apply.” Ideas without implementation are useless. Ideas executed have the power to change the world—particularly your world.
Take the challenge. Not for me, for you. Will you? 3 minutes a day for 21 days. Who's in? Declare that you will and what you are committed to being grateful for during the next 21 days in the comments below. Don’t be a silent “lurker”, encourage others by sharing your declaration in the comments section.
We’re particularly gifted in the finger-pointing department when it comes to our romantic relationships—you know, where the other person is the one who needs to change. Let me explain how something extremely simple, taking less than 5-minutes a day, can literally change your life.
A few years back, a friend of mine was complaining about his wife. From my observation, she was a terrific lady, and he was lucky to have her. I told him as much, but he continued to point out all the ways she was responsible for his unhappiness. That’s when I shared an experience that had literally changed my marriage… and me.
One Thanksgiving, I decided to keep a Thanks Giving journal for my wife. Every day for an entire year I logged at least one thing I appreciated about her—the way she interacted with her friends, how she cared for our dogs, the fresh bed she prepared, a succulent meal she whipped up, or the beautiful way she styled her hair that day—whatever. I looked for the things my wife was doing that touched me, or revealed attributes, characteristics, or qualities I appreciated. I wrote them all down secretly for the entire year. By the end of that year, I’d filled an entire journal.
When I gave it to her the following Thanksgiving, she cried, calling it the best gift she’d ever received. (Even better than the BMW I’d given her for her birthday!) The funny thing was that the person most affected by this gift was me. All that journaling forced me to focus on my wife’s positive aspects. I was consciously looking for all the things she was doing “right.” That heartfelt focus overwhelmed anything I might have otherwise complained about. I fell deeply in love with her all over again (maybe even more than ever, as I was seeing subtleties in her nature and behavior instead of her more obvious qualities). My appreciation, gratitude, and intention to find the best in her was something I held in my heart and eyes each day. This caused me to show up differently in my marriage, which, of course, made her respond differently to me. Soon, I had even more things to write in my Thanks Giving journal! As a result of choosing to take a mere five minutes every day or so to document all the reasons why I was grateful for her, we experienced one of the best years of our marriage, and it’s only gotten better.
After I shared my experience, my friend decided to keep a Thanks Giving journal about his wife. Within the first few months, he completely turned around his marriage. Choosing to look for and focus on his wife’s positive qualities changed his view of her, which changed how he interacted with her. As a result, she made different choices about the way she responded to him. The cycle perpetuated. Or, shall we say, compounded.