The single most simple, powerful and incredibly effective habit I have implemented this year is practicing daily gratitude.
At the end of each day my daughter Harper and wife Court will share 3 things that we were grateful for that happened during the day. From something as normal as the coffee date Court shared with a friend, how much fun I had during today’s workout, or the 7/11 Slurpee Harper enjoyed devouring after school, to the teeny things… The cheery smile the old fella gave while walking past me down the street, the funny joke a student told in Harper’s class, or the hug Court and I shared right at the moment she (or I) needed it most.
It sounds totally wishy washy and soft as butter. My teen ego would have preferred to vomit and ridicule out of my own insecure discomfort, rather than sharing cute little lovey, mushy moments with my family each day.
But man I am glad I dropped my male ego and decided to be mushy.
The point of looking back over your day and reminiscing over the good moments is to help remind us that it ‘aint all bad. In fact, it is all pretty darn good. Too often we get caught up in everything that went wrong today. “Oh I had the worst day! Jenny broke the coffee machine, my boss was in a mood and I stepped in a fucking puddle on the way to lunch! All before midday!” We throw in the towel for the rest of the day. We write it off a failed day, grumpy and miserable. We bail on our gym sesh because we’re no longer in the mood. We are a dick to our wife after work. We go to bed hoping tomorrow will be better if everything falls into place.
But guess what? Everything will never fall into place. The perfect day doesn’t exist. Something is going to go wrong at some point every day. So you can either spend each and every day bumming out over those one or two things that “ruined” your day and pray that you will catch the unicorn (problem free day) tomorrow (which in my opinion would be the most dull day ever).
When we focus on everything that went wrong every day, more and more things seem to go wrong. The more something is on your mind, the more you see it. Just like when you’ve bought a new BMW, suddenly you see BMW’s absolutely everywhere! How can it be? The more you worry about the problems of the day, it seems that more problems begin to hit you in the face. You haven’t suddenly received a huge influx of problems, the world hasn’t suddenly decided it is out to get you, you’re doing two things: 1. You’re more attentive to problems 2. You’re allowing more things to bother you (That prick that cut you off didn’t bother you when it happened last month… but now, Oh boy is he gonna get it!). And finally, the more you decide that problems and struggles are things that are out there with the sole goal of trying to bring you down, the more they will do just that.
Problems aren’t going anywhere. We will never not have problems. The degree in which they are a problem may vary. But problems are inescapable. But that topic is for another blog…
100’s of events happen every day with each event varying in emotional outcome. From amazing, to great, to good, to neutral, to bad, to terrible, to catastrophic. With plenty of sub categories in-between. Every person perceives moments differently. A great moment to one could be a neutral to another. Hell an amazing to one could be considered catastrophic to another! Regardless of that, we will experience moments across all categories every day. Most events of the day will lie between the good and neutral categories. The problem is that we weigh so much more importance on the very few things categorised bad and terrible, as opposed to those that were good, great and fantastic. We could have had an absolute belter of the day, breakfast was epic, I killed it at work, I got a sweet run home, I got a cute girls phone number while having a few arvo drinks with the boys… but then, someone yelled out at me, calling me a stupid fat prick as I crossed a quiet road and didn’t see their car coming, stopping them short. Day ruined.
But it shouldn’t be. You had a fantastic day, so many things went beautifully. Basing your day and your worth off one silly incident with someone who clearly doesn’t practice daily gratitude shouldn’t ruin that for you.
This is where the practice of daily gratitude is so powerful. You may have had a great day and you may have experienced a real bummer of a moment right at the tail end. But sitting back and going over the good things that happened will turn it around for you. Being grateful for those heartwarming moments help remind you that it isn’t all bad, in fact you’re one lucky son of a gun. You’re here, you’re living and breathing, you’re one of the lucky beings on this Earth that got to become a human rather than a leaf or a slug… or a rock stuck 2km under the Earth’s surface.
I find that the more I practice gratitude, the more I can find it on my worst days. The days when serious shit actually goes down. Because you know what, no matter how horrible it gets, you were lucky enough to be here in the first place.
In recent months we have implemented sharing our gratitude once every week or two at the gym. As much as it can sometimes be met with a little discomfort or awkwardness by some, it always ends in warm fuzzy feelings had by all, as well as a greater connection felt between our members. We find that those that were uncomfortable the last time look forward to sharing the next time. Last Friday our 9.30am crew were in such a great way that they actually requested we do gratitude together before the class, it lead to a bumper session that meant so much more to everyone than just a workout.
On occasion we have the odd grump, who is clearly going through something, decides to say in front of everyone, “I’m grateful for nuthin’ today. Everything sucks.” As much as all you want to do it say “Hey! We got people starving in Africa and kids dying in hospitals! You’re really not grateful for anything!?!?” We don’t. Everyone’s problems are their own and we aren’t to judge on the degree of trauma they are experiencing. But we do hope that the point of practicing gratitude eventually reaches them when they are ready to take it onboard. I only speak about this as I am certain that if you decide to implement this in your home or at your work, that you will be faced with resistance, and snapping back at them your judgement is not the way to go about getting your homies onboard.
Today I am grateful for my sleep in ‘til 8am this morning. That is some sort of record! I am grateful for this beautiful winter sunshine that allowed me to write this out in the sun with the perfect filter coffee. Lastly, I am grateful for bagels. I just love them.