Somewhat later in life I have found that without developing the conscious habit of being grateful it is extremely difficult to achieve happiness in one’s life. Unfortunately, gratitude can take an awfully long time to learn. In fact, for many of us it is not till middle age before we truly get it! As Hugh MacLeod, architect of the incredibly insightful blog, gapingvoid, writes,
“Here’s a question: when in business, when should you ‘feel’ successful? When do you start thinking of yourself as successful? When you make a million dollars? When your company makes its first billion? When you get your corner office? When your payroll exceeds a hundred people? How about … when you start feeling truly grateful to have the people around your office, in your life? How about, instead of measuring success by numbers, you measure it by the amount of gratitude you have for being there? Gratitude is not just a nice virtue they teach you at Sunday School. It’s a very powerful sign that your doing something right.”
When I tuck Kiera, my 12 year old, into bed I usually ask her, “What are you thankful for or what are you grateful for today?” Perhaps it’s the kind of question we should all be asking ourselves every single day. In my case I use an app called “The Five Minute Journal” which reminds me to record my gratitude for the day. Given that over 80% of us are visual learners it also allows the user to include pictures to reinforce the habit.
Even better, consider making a list of the people in your life that you are thankful for — your spouse, children, parents, friends, and co-workers. When you think about it, the list is almost infinite. Then, pick just one person this week to thank — make a call, send a note, write an email or consider making an actual visit.
Gratitude can, and will, positively transform your view of your circumstances and future.