We live in the most prosperous time in all of human history. Yet being overwhelmed is a far more common a feeling than ever. The average North American lives a lifestyle better than that of royalty just 100 years ago, but unending demands on time have led to an epidemic of stress among the masses.
Family life, work pressures, time to care for yourself (or the nagging guilt of not caring for yourself) and dealing with the constant barrage of information—TV, social media, texts, email—stretch us beyond our capacity. We are left feeling overwhelmed and stressed, which is not good for health, relationships or your ability to be productive.
The solution? Develop a more grateful mindset.
Unlike giving up TV or email after 6 p.m., which are surface solutions, when you build a more grateful frame of mind you improve the underlying systems that govern how you live your life.
Gratitude is simple. So simple, that you may be tempted to discount it. Don’t, because you have nothing to lose by giving it a try.
What gratitude has given me
• A greater sense of peace
• Eliminated worry
• A greater commitment to my life purpose
• Better relationships
• Quicker recovery when I react without thinking
• Ability to learn quickly from mistakes and prevent myself from making them again
• More time to enjoy recreational activities
In the past 10 years, social scientists have uncovered a litany of benefits to having an attitude of gratitude. Yes, a litany. Grateful people are more positive, less likely to experience depression, sleep more soundly, exercise more regularly, more likely to achieve important life goals and earn more income. And this is the tip of the iceberg. Gratitude has worked its way into medical practices where it is used to help treat depression, cardiovascular disease and PTSD.
Gratitude is part of our social DNA. It strengthens relationships and helps us become more hopeful and have a greater sense of purpose.
Gratitude practices are exercises for the brain. Just as strength training improves and conditions your muscles, gratitude exercises strengthen and condition your brain so you have more balance in your life and a more positive, hope-filled outlook.
Like any exercise program, start easy and make these two simple practices a habit to regain a greater sense of control over your life:
1. Make a list of three things you are grateful for. Do this every day. Start a journal or post on Facebook or on another site.
2. Subscribe to a gratitude blog where you can read or listen to what others are grateful for. Check this daily.
These two habits will consume no more than five minutes of your day—and that is on a day you are struggling with making a gratitude list. Commit to this for 21 days. On day 21, evaluate where you are. I cannot say exactly what will shift in your life, but I know you will notice less stress and more joy.
These two practices will not make the crap in your life disappear, but it’s amazing how a grateful mindset can help you transform and teach you how to deal with it. More than 12 years of practicing gratitude has shifted my perspective. Although I was always optimistic, I was also judgmental. Practicing gratitude has made me a more compassionate, understanding person.
Steve Foran is a Grateful CEO at Gratitude at Work where you learn how to build your grateful frame of mind. Become part of the Daily Gratitudes Community and get your daily gratitude reminder every weekday morning. www.gratitudeatwork.ca/daily-gratitudes