Change follows a shift in thinking. Without a shift in your thinking, the odds are good that even with tremendous willpower you will drift back to your old ways.
Beliefs are woven intricately into the tapestry of your life, making them hard to put your finger on, hard to isolate and identify. And tricky to see all that your thread of thought is connected to.
As a coach, there is nothing more rewarding then witnessing a shift in a client’s thinking. That “Ah ha” moment is priceless! I get just as tickled when working with my own coach and the “ah ha” moment is mine.
A recent “Ah ha” moment revealed a lie- the lie that certain things will always be. Now, if you had asked me straight up if I believed things were forever, I would have confidently said “NO!” However, my actions and emotions were telling a very different story!
How was this lie stirring up trouble in my life? It made me believe that some specific things in life would not change so don’t bother trying – pretty victim-ish thinking, I know! And when you believe things are forever, you start taking the good stuff for granted. Perhaps the saddest thing of all, forever thinking weakens your awareness; you stop noticing the little things, and it is the little things in life that often are the most valuable!
My shift: embracing the idea of temporary. Nothing lasts forever! On the one hand, that is incredibly comforting to me when it comes to dealing with health issues, relationship struggles, or weighty projects.
On the other hand, there are treasured things that I want to hang onto with a tight grip that I am more resistant to seeing in this light, but when I do, I am compelled to be abundantly grateful! When I have a clearer sense of how fleeting and valuable life is it makes a huge difference. What’s treasured can vanish in a moment!
As I have settled into viewing life from a more temporary perspective, it has changed me and elevated my level of gratitude. That’s a good thing because there are a whole lot of benefits to being grateful!
With all those benefits, who doesn’t want to live a life bursting with gratitude? Yet, practicing gratitude is often harder than you might think. Have you encountered obstacles like these?
1. Being Too Busy
When I am racing around in hurry, hurry mode and hyper focused on my “to do” list, there is just no time to be grateful. No space either. I have to go slow in order to notice the many things I have to be grateful for. Nestled in the attitude of gratitude is a sense of wonder and savoring – truly delighting in what’s around me.
Gratitude takes time!
2. Expecting Extra Awesome
In the past, my focus has been on being grateful for those “extra awesome” things; epic things! My ridiculously high expectations meant very little qualified as “extra awesome” leaving me grateful for very little.
It really is the little things in life that are worthy of gratitude. Subtle things that are easy to take for granted, but life without them would be a tremendous loss and devastating.
When I am too focused on what everyone else has, is doing, or is accomplishing I miss all the good stuff going on in my own life. I want to celebrate the amazing things going on in the lives of those around me – that’s worth celebrating. And I want to take stock of my own pile of blessings – the things that are right under my nose if I choose to see them.
The crazy thing is that your blessings, the things you are grateful for, exist in the present. You gotta notice them while you can!
4. Bad Habits
Bad habits – they are great big gratitude blockers! Things like an entitlement mentality, complaining, being critical, feeling guilty, worrying, being controlling, living out of fear, trying to be the best, or not being able to say “no.” These habits will short circuit your ability to be grateful!
Want to proactively cultivate more gratitude in your life? Consider adopting a few of these habits:
- Think about someone you are grateful for and why each time you brush your teeth
- Send a snail mail thank you note, email, or text to someone and let them know how grateful you are for who they are or for what they have done. Be specific!
- Share what you are grateful for on social media
- Count your blessings – something you might even want to do around the Thanksgiving table!
- Show your gratitude by tipping well
- Smile – it lets the people around you know they are important
- Say thank you in person often!
- Be fully present – turn off your phone and actively listen. It demonstrates your thankfulness for others.
- Keep a gratitude journal
- Find creative and personal ways to show gratitude
5. General Gratitude
Having a general sense for gratitude is better than not being thankful at all – sort of the light version of gratitude. Why not go deeper and be more specific? Zeroing in on exactly what you are grateful for increases the impact of your grateful moments – a booster to all the good stuff in the infographic above!
Challenge yourself to go beyond “I am grateful for the fall color on my drive today” and dial into the reason you are grateful. “I am grateful for fall color because I appreciate the beauty – it reminds me that there is something beautiful about every season. That gives me hope!”
6. Stinking Thinking
My way of viewing things both good and bad as permanent – forever, interfered with my ability to be thankful. Your version of stinking thinking might be a little different. Perhaps you operate out of a scarcity mentality rather than an abundance mentality. It is hard to be thankful when you don’t think there is enough to go around. Or perhaps your core fear is rearing its ugly head.
Gratitude doesn’t just happen. It is a habit. A choice!
Have you bought into the “forever lie” like I did or is there some other shift that needs to increase the level of gratitude in your life?