When I was in university, I stumbled upon one (of many) articles. The author had asked well-known, so called 'successful' people, to what they attributed their success.
The most common answer in that article?
The idea that something this intangible had been so important for them was hard to take in. The importance of gratitude sounded like positive thinking to me.
But I got curious and did some research.
I found my answer in Tony Robbins. With a program called Hour of power, he taught a morning ritual which included a few minutes of practicing gratitude.
The exercise is a few minutes long and asks you to focus on the things you are grateful for in life, starting with yourself and moving outward to include others.
- First circle: Me, right here. I am alive. Awake in a comfy bed. Omg, I HAVE a warm bed! Coffee exists in this world and I get to drink it! Ten toes. Ten fingers. This pillow is so soft. I can't believe I have access to so much wisdom, information and knowledge.
- Second circle: My family, friends. My parents, sisters, niece and nephews. My friends are awesome. There are such amazing people around me on a daily basis.
- Third circle: I live in a safe country. I’m a woman and I have rights, think about all those who came before me that makes it possible for me to do what I do today, and be who I am.
Tony’s reminder is that we did not even need to have anything in our life to be grateful about. We can simply ask ourselves; “if I wanted to grateful, what could I be grateful for?”
How gratitude changed me
After two weeks, something shifted. I started waking up to find that my mind went there automatically. It’s like my mind had learned that, ‘waking up means being grateful’.
Going through this short exercise became a habit. More importantly, it changed my everyday life, changing my state and outlook on the day ahead.
What gratitude is not
“When you're grateful, you can't be fearful.” - Tony Robbins
If gratitude is new to us, it might be hard to understand its power. Gratitude is not about positive thinking. I see gratitude as taking responsibility for our lives, and an extension of our best selves.
We might experience unfair situations in life or work. Someone close to us might have betrayed us. We often can’t help but react. But if we think someone is an idiot and choose to focus on that? I believe it does not make us much better than him or her (even if said person is profoundly fear-driven).
Like attracts like. Hate breeds more hate.
What gratitude turns out to be, is an antidote to anger and fear.
Fear and anger are powerful currents present in our daily lives; and they are deeply integrated into our political systems, media and sometimes even personal relationships.
If we learn the habit of gratitude and grounding ourselves, we teach our mind to approach the world from a different space than from that of fear and anger.
We’ll experience more compassion, see the good where we might instinctively want to react negatively and approach life more courageously.
Whenever I go into a disconnected or depressed mode, I can know I’ve lost touch of my grounding habits. Gratitude is first habit to revisit.