“If you are always grateful for the little things, it is hard to avoid happiness. It is a lack of gratitude that often makes us feel down.
There is a little ritual angel and I practice every day, which can turn difficult days into simpler and extremely difficult life situations into much better – and it won & # 39; Don't surprise you either. It is the ritual of gratitude.
Of course, this is such a basic ritual, and yet it is one that we often forget to practice. But exercising carefully can quickly change both our minds and our lives.
Let me give you a quick example. Just over a decade ago, I remember one specific evening that I struggled with grief and felt very stressed about being broken, without work and unhappy with my life. I was depressed and very lost.
But that night I pushed hard to put things into perspective. I printed out a list of everything I was really grateful for, even though everything in my life seemed to go wrong. It ended up being a pretty long list, and I still have the list hanging on my home office bulletin board today. Some of the most important things about it include:
- I am married to a loving, encouraging, beautiful woman named Angel.
- I live.
- I have a relatively healthy body.
- I have a roof over my head.
- I have loving parents and other family members that I love.
- I have some close friends.
- I have the ability to learn new things and grow.
- I can read.
- I can hear music.
- I can see the sun rising and setting.
- I can run on the beach (when we lived in San Diego, walking distance to the ocean).  I can taste delicious homemade food (Angel is a pretty darn good cook).
The list goes on and on, of course, but you get it. The small, yet wonderful things I took for granted each day were now in black and white right in front of me. The difficult times I struggled to manage did not suddenly disappear, but things were put into better perspective. I no longer focused solely on the difficult times of tunnel vision, but instead broadened my focus to the periphery of my life where there was a whole list of amazing things that could nurture my inner spirit.
Yes, there are incredibly painful parts of my life, and it's OK to feel the pain they bring. But it is also important that I also remember the rest of my life, and that I also remember that even the painful experiences make life as intricate and remarkable as it is. Life would be impossible without challenges. There is no happiness but some sadness – one requires the other.
The perception of my way of thinking and how I felt about my life at that moment, on the really hard night, was extraordinary. And everything stemmed from going back to the basics – I found some gratitude.
I have used the same process several times since that night, and it continues to make a world of difference:
- When someone upsets me, I try to find one thing about them that I am grateful for.
- When I take myself to postpone a task, I look at why I am grateful for an opportunity to complete the task.
- When I get sick or hurt my body, I focus on how grateful I am for living and being able to heal.
- When I lose someone I love, I grieve, but I am also grateful for the time and experience I shared with them.  When something negative happens with the work I do, I remember being grateful for the ability to work and serve others, and that these challenges allow me to be wiser.
- When someone doesn't like me or judge me unfairly, I do my best to be grateful that they care enough to even pay attention to me. Attention is time, and time is a gift.
First of all, the art of being grateful on really hard days is with you. And make no mistake about it: The secret of being grateful is no secret. You choose to be grateful. Then you do it again and again. If you forget, start again.
A few minutes a day spent journaling a gratitude list, or just reflecting on what you are grateful for right now, can change your life. Do it every morning or evening, by setting a reminder alarm if you must, and see how it affects you.
Don't rush through it either – don't make it sloppy. Really try to feel genuine gratitude in your heart and mind for everything you list. Focus on the little miracles in your life. And appreciate all your progress as well. You have gone through a lot, but you have grown a lot through the ups and downs. Give yourself credit and gratitude for your resilience and how far you have come.
If you want further support with this ritual or want some more perspective, I invite you to listen to a recent podcast episode Angel and I recorded for you, titled …
How to find gratitude when everything goes wrong:
You can also subscribe to the entire podcast, THINK BETTER, LIVE BETTER (yes, it shares the title of our annual live event), and you can then listen to the first season (30 episodes) on your favorite podcast player right now (M&A on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts).
Now, it's your turn …
Please let us know …
Which point mentioned above or in the podcast section resonates most with you today, and why?
Anything else to share?  We would love to hear from YOU in the comments below.
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