The Power of a Gratitude Mindset
When I look back on my life thus far, I can clearly see turning points. Points where life was never to be the same again. Graduating from college, moving to a new city, or countless other moments changed who I was and what path my life would take. These days though, I choose to focus on what mindsets have helped me grow into the person I am today.
For me, the biggest shift happened when I started focusing on what I had rather than what was missing or I had not achieved yet. Our society teaches us to work hard, to get good grades and to dream big. Unfortunately, it doesn’t often teach us that what we already possess or what we already have achieved may be more important to focus on than living in a world of scarcity and lack. The more I slowed down, the more I took the time to pause and appreciate each day what I already had the happier I was. Life became easier when I decided if I never get that promotion if my life stays simply as it is right now that is enough for me.
If we define success as having a certain title or pay, we will never truly be happy and fulfilled. Instead, we will get to that next level and only dream about how life would be if we did x, y, and z. Being able to truly be present is a gift. Are there things I would like to experience in my life one day? Sure, but if I don’t I am just as happy. For 8 years, I lived in Miami Beach. I was able to walk to restaurants with cuisines from around the world and only needed to walk a few blocks to feel the ocean breeze or breathe in the bay air. I had amazing friends only a few blocks away. Yet, all I saw though was what was missing. If I had been able to stop and see what was working perhaps I would have felt empowered to leave my toxic job or move into a bigger apartment.
Focus on your now, do today what you can do to improve your next hour or day. The future is not only those moments that occur years from now. Instead, your future is happening right now! Life is a moment by moment phenomenon. Living in the future or the past just has your mind living but your body is just going through the motions. You’re always left wanting and not actually experiencing the life you want.
So you may wonder, how can I have more gratitude? First off, choose it. If you order a meal you don’t enjoy, be grateful for what you do have, which is the chance to eat out and money to afford this experience. Stop and ask yourself What joy can I find at this moment? Slowly, your brain will be trained to look for the silver lining no matter how bad your day is or how much you feel your life is falling apart. Being grateful does not mean being happy all the time. It does mean though when not feeling great you are able to easily use your senses to find what is beautiful around you. Being grateful does not mean only counting your blessings daily. It’s deeper than that. Truly practising gratitude is allowing every part of your being to take in how lucky you are. For example, imagine you are stuck in traffic. It’s not just saying I’m grateful I have a car or I’m lucky I have a job. Instead, it’s being able to feel these gifts in your soul, your blood, your skin. When we allow ourselves to truly connect to our surroundings and ourselves, we are automatically uplifted. Try the next time you are in traffic, staying mad or resentful while thinking about what you are doing after work or the next time you will see your friends. What happens? You smile. Your body relaxes, and now you can act. You can turn on your favorite radio station or you can call a friend now that your commute is taking longer. Gratitude helps us let go and create a new possibility for our day.
What are some recent moments in life that caused you upset? How could you have applied gratitude to this moment in life?