Method #3: Be Grateful
When you realize you are winning a game or race, you lighten up. The fact is, you probably ARE winning. You just need to realize it.
You can lighten up your career game, relationships games and life games by being more grateful. In fact, the more grateful you feel, the less serious you are. The less serious you are, the easier it is for you to win your games!
“Practicing gratitude” (being grateful on a constant, regular basis) is an easy, fast tool you can use anywhere, any time and under any circumstances. It makes you feel better about anything at all.
For example, you feel stressed and serious about money. Instead of diving into endless worry and planning, you take a second to lighten up with gratitude. “Even though I can’t afford a better place to live, I’m grateful that I have a warm, safe home right now.” “I just lost a big income source, but I’m grateful I had the opportunity and I’ve learned a lot.” “He might not be the best provider in the world, but I’m thankful that he’s honest and willing to work long hours for the family.”
Once you shift your mental attitude from fear to gratitude, your mood improves. You think better. Your plans are more effective. You operate with more personal power.
Gratitude can also help you live longer.
In a $5.6 million research project by the University of California, research scientists found that people who practice gratitude on a daily basis have stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, higher levels of positive emotions, fewer feelings of loneliness and better sleep.
If gratitude was a drink or a drug, it would be quite popular!
To see if gratitude will help you lighten up, think about something for which you are grateful, right now. Take your time.
If this does not make you feel a little bit happier, think of something else that makes you feel thankful. Keep thinking of things that make you feel grateful until you experience an improvement in your mood.
At first, it might take you a long time to feel grateful about anything, but it’s worth the effort. Find one thing at a time without rushing.
Do you feel a little more joy and satisfaction? If so, this Action Step works for you. Imagine feeling this way all the time!
The more often you feel grateful, the more often great things will show up that also make you grateful.
Eight Ways to Practice Gratitude
1. Gratitude helps shift your thinking.
Gratitude can put bad situations into a new light. You think of a problem and then you think of some aspect for which you are grateful.
“I’m so mad about my taxes . . . yet, I am grateful that my income is higher than ever before.”
“I wish Joe would stop asking me for loans . . . but I’m grateful how he gives me favors and he always pays me back.”
“I have too much to do . . . but I’m grateful for the pay that comes from the work.”
2. Gratitude reduces your need for more, more more.
One of your games might be, “Get lots of new stuff.” You’re not exactly proud of this game especially as you don’t need any new stuff right now. Being grateful can dissolve this need so you can lighten up and focus on better games.
“All my friends have giant TVs and mine is only 32″ so I need a new big one . . . of course, my TV works perfectly and I enjoy watching it. I’m also grateful how it does not dominate my living room. I’d have to add more debt to get one, so to heck with it. I’ll save the money so I can get a new car.”
“I really want a new car so everyone thinks I’m successful . . . but I am grateful for my old reliable car. Best of all, it’s paid off! I think I’ll give it a good washing, inside and out.”
“I sure want a new boat . . . of course, I’m not spending much time in my wonderful RV, beautiful swimming pool or exciting vacation condo. Forget the boat!”
3. Gratitude strengthens your relationships.
When you and another person thank each other, you cannot help but smile and like that person a bit more.
Chris tells you, “Thanks for helping me move last week!” You say, “Of course. Thanks for making it so fun!”
You say, “Pat, I want to thank you for listening to me last week. It really helped me come up with a new plan.” Pat says, “Sure! Thanks for trusting me with the private details.”
Your spouse says, “Thanks for washing the dishes.” You say, “You’re welcome. Thank YOU for the great dinner.”
4. Gratitude improves your opinion of your body (and can improve your body).
Whenever you feel unhappy with your body, look for things you are grateful for with your body. You will soon lighten up and feel cheerful, no matter what condition your body might be in.
You worry your body is too fat or ugly or old. So you ask yourself, “What about my body am I grateful for?” You discover you are grateful for your terrific hair or your straight teeth, your excellent hearing, your endurance, your ability to sleep well, etc. Pretty soon you lighten up and stop feeling fat, ugly or old. You look in the mirror and think, “Oh, that’s not so bad. I don’t mind it.”
You are suffering from pain or illness. You ask yourself, “Despite being sick or in pain, what about my body can I be grateful about?” You discover you are grateful that your left foot has no pain, your breathing is in good shape, your illness may not kill you and you have excellent poops. You continue until you lighten up and stop taking the pain and illness so seriously. Your body might recover from just this one improvement.
You wish you had more energy, better sleep, more strength and so on. “Despite being tired all the time, what am I grateful for?” You answer, “I can take all the naps I want, I’m not eating sugar and carbs all day and I do get energized when I need to.” You suddenly do not care about being tired and later, you notice you actually have more energy!
5. Being grateful reduces fears of the future.
You are afraid of flying, spiders, injections, bullies, etc. You ask yourself, “What about ____ am I grateful for?” With flying on a plane you might answers, “I’m grateful I’ll be home in two hours instead of two days.” “I’m grateful they are tough about keeping us safe.” “I love airport food.” “I enjoy meeting people.” “I’m thankful for all the safe flights I’ve had before.” “I’m happy the pilots are very experienced.” You keep finding things about flying (or spiders, injections, bullies, etc.) until you lighten up and reduce your fear.
You constantly think, “I have no savings. How will I be able to retire?” You then look for things you will be grateful for in the future. “Of course, I’m thankful that I can get paid to do house inspections, even when I’m 90.” “I’ll be grateful that I paid off the mortgage last year.” “I’ll be grateful for my wonderful family.”
As another example, you are afraid of an upcoming business talk. “I’m scared of freezing up and getting ridiculed when speaking at the conference . . . however, I’m really grateful they want to hear from me. I’ll be grateful for all my preparation. I’ll really be grateful when it’s over!” You then lighten up about the whole thing and start practicing your presentation.
6. When you thank someone, he or she is more motivated to do more of the same.
Airlines use this technique to calm down passengers. “First of all, we want to thank you for your patience as we repair the plane. We will leave just as fast as we can. Thank you again for your understanding and patience.”
Jill refers someone to your business or practice so you send her a note. “Hi Jill, Thank you for recommending me to Jack! He and I both think you are awesome!” Jill then sends two more people to you. You send Jill a coffee mug full of candy with another note, “Dear Jill, once again you have made my day! Thank you so much for sending Fred and Wilma to me. We promise to take good care of them.” Over the next many years, she keeps sending people to you. As long as you keep thanking her, she keeps recommending you.
Your daughter sends you a stupid video. While in the past you might have ignored her or made a sarcastic comment, you send her a silly thank-you emoji. She then sends you more funny videos for which you thank her each time. While you don’t care for the videos, you enjoy the constant messages and feel lighter each time you thank her.
You arrange an important meeting with a potential client, customer, partner or employee candidate. You start by saying, “Thank you so much for seeing me! I really appreciate you taking the time.” You repeat your bottom-of-the-heart gratitude at the end of the meeting. As a result, these important people are happier to see you again as they know you’ll show them your gratitude.
7. Gratitude helps you lighten up in stressful situations.
You work with Kenny who is a total jerk. Every day you hear complaints and criticism. He steals the credit for your great ideas and makes you wrong whenever possible. He stabs you in the back and secretly undermines your best work.
So even though it is not easy, you ask yourself, “What am I grateful to Kenny for?” It takes a while but you find five answers.
“He is good at sales and I need the money right now.”
“He only criticizes me for two of my weaknesses; he doesn’t know anything about my other five.”
“He makes it hard for me to stay calm. Fortunately, I enjoy a good challenge! This is good practice for me.”
“I haven’t really thought about karma before, but I see an unhappy future for Kenny.”
“I’ll be grateful for my new life once I no longer work with him.”
You lighten up and feel fine about Kenny. You stop taking him seriously and he mysteriously picks on other people, but not you as much.
As another example, you feel panicked about a legal problem that is not going well. During your next call, you thank your lawyer from the bottom of your heart. You feel much better.
Your production and income statistics are dropping and you do not know what to do. You ask youself, “What about this statistical drop can I be grateful for?”
8. Practice gratitude to improve your overall mood, every day.
The more you practice gratitude, the easier it gets. If you keep at it, gratitude becomes a wonderful new habit.
At least once an hour, find a reason to thank someone. Tell them why you appreciate what they do. Give details and be sincere. If you do not really feel grateful, fake it until you make it.
Create a gratitude journal. Once each day, enter everything you are grateful for. Add new reasons to be grateful as you notice them. If you can’t think of anything, think of what it would be like if you lost some of the things or people you have in your life.
Fill your mind with gratitude for three full minutes. Think of nothing except for people and things for which you are grateful. Each time an ungrateful thought jumps in, replace it with some gratitude. After you can easily go for three minutes, go for four minutes, then five, etc. This is a great way to occupy your mind and lighten up when waiting in a line, stuck in traffic or during any boring activity.
Add an Action Step
What can you do to be more grateful?