Have you ever heard someone say, “nothing good ever comes my way” or something similar? I have. In fact, I’ve heard it quite a few times over the years and chances are that you have, too.
These individuals truly believe that other people have it so much better than they do. Other people will always get the accolades, make the big sale, or receive that desired promotion. Those other people will always be the talk of the town, get the interviews in top markets, and get booked as the keynote speaker while the rest of us are still paying to attend.
For some, maybe this sounds a bit too familiar for comfort. None of us are perfect and sometimes those fiendish thoughts creep in. I’m sort of an expert in this area but for all the wrong reasons. However, it’s made me a better person for it and for that I’m grateful.
The topic of gratitude has been discussed at great length in self-help titles from Wallace D. Wattles’ classic The Science of Getting Rich (1910) and Napoleon Hill’s masterpiece Think and Grow Rich (1937) all the way through to the commercially successful title The Secret (2006) by Rhonda Byrne and beyond.
But despite widespread discussion, there are still a few misconceptions when it comes to expressing gratitude.
Sure we know that tradition calls for a few words of thanks on holidays. Proper etiquette at award ceremonies warrants a basic acceptance speech. And we’re pretty quick to count our blessings when threatened with tragic loss following natural disasters. Those are the easy ones.
But what about the blessings that are a little less obvious?
Consider for a moment that you have a lot to be grateful for right now, even as we remain fixed in the middle of this ongoing global pandemic. You are reading this article on the Internet, from behind your expensive laptop or smartphone, and in the comfort of your favorite chair at home or while sitting in a local café sipping a tasty beverage.
When you woke up this morning, were you greeted by the feeling of cold earth and the sound of blaring car horns after a night spent under a bridge, or did you unwrap yourself from the warmth of a cozy bed? Let’s take it a step further.
How many breakfast options did you have to choose from before starting your workday? Even if you opted to skip the full meal, that starter coffee, tea, or juice still counts. While many guys won’t openly admit to spending more than five minutes choosing which clothes to wear, the mere fact that there are options available says a lot.
Often times, it’s the simple pleasures and conveniences that are easily overlooked because we take them for granted. The only time we really seem to notice them is when they are absent (ex. giving up a personal delight for Lent) or difficult to attain (ex. getting a haircut during a statewide lockdown).
If there is one thing that this whole COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, it’s that we should all be a lot more grateful for everything we have. Hopefully, we’ve all taken quite a few learning lessons from this crazy experience, but we’ll save those topics for another day.
For the purpose of this writing, you’ll notice that I stuck to material items as examples. The reason is that tangible items are usually a good place to start when discussing gratitude. They’re simple, relatable, and easily recognizable.
Are you curious to know just how much you have to be grateful for?
Try this exercise. Today, stand in your bedroom and list all of the things you are grateful for. Write down every single item that you are grateful to own. Tomorrow, move on to another room. Write down every single item. The next day, move on to another room. Do this every day until you cover the whole house.
Once you’ve listed every single physical possession that you are grateful to own, then list every person in your life that you are grateful to know. List every family member, friend, colleague, and mentor that has enriched your life in some way. You’ve lived a long life so it may be a challenge to get everyone listed in one single sitting. Take a few days to make sure didn’t forget anybody.
Then, move on to experiences. Write down every vacation, special outing, and memorable moment you can remember. If you need help, then it might be time to dig out those old photo albums (digital too!) and take a trip down memory lane.
Do I really have to write down everything?
Yes, you do. Write down EVERYTHING.
Does it sound overwhelming? All of a sudden you have a whole lot to be thankful for, don’t you? Yes, you do! Only by acknowledging our current blessings do we put ourselves in the position to receive in the future.
Start this exercise today and I guarantee that by this time next week you’ll see life in a brand new light. Keep it up and you’ll begin finding golden opportunities everywhere you turn.
Are you expressing gratitude?
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Photo Credit: @guillaumedegermain on Unsplash