training your gratitude muscle
In a day and age where mental health, self development and wellness are all shining brightly under the spotlight, we’re hearing the word gratitude more and more each day.
Growing up, I heard it all the time and still do; be grateful, have gratitude etc. At face value this seems pretty basic, but without a solid practice, you may notice minimal change in your day to day life. Living in a state of gratitude is a habit, a muscle of the mind that you have to train regularly. If that muscle becomes weak, you're more likely to experience feelings of defeat or devastation when one small thing doesn't go your way, or if you make a so-called "mistake!”
FIND GRATITUDE IN HARDSHIP
One of my long-time mentors always told me “there are no mistakes”.
As a 14 year old it was hard to wrap my young mind around that statement. It wasn’t until I was a bit older when I started to notice myself looking back on the “mistakes” I made in the past and all the hard times I went through. That’s when I started thinking to myself “I’m glad I went through that.” Sound familiar?
These "mistakes" put me back into the classroom of life and I was coming out of each situation a smarter person. “No mistakes” all made sense from that point on.
So I started thinking, how are these actions considered mistakes if I'm growing as a person? It’s all a switch in your brain and a choice you make to see your mistakes as opportunities. As an athlete, I’m always interested in learning about the best athletes and how they think and I’ve noticed this is what separates the good from the great. The best of the best are grateful for their failures and downfalls, they capitalize on them. This keeps them in a constant state of gratitude. It's easy to be grateful for simple pleasures in life, but if you can thank the dark times, that action truly has the power to elevate your life.
This practice of learning to find wins in your losses is what can take your gratitude practice to the next level. It's a great opportunity to dig deep into your mind and thank things that you didn’t even know existed in your life.
3 GRATITUDE PRACTICES TO START YOUR DAY
Start and end the day with gratitude.
How we start and end the day can have a true effect on your life. Start each day by writing down 3 things you’re grateful for and repeat the same at nighttime. It’s easy to say you’re grateful for the basics (friends, food, etc) so get creative with each. For example, “I’m grateful I have time and headspace in the morning to reflect and give thanks to all I have.” Make your mind dig deep!
Reflect and journal on your hardships or low points in life and define what you gained from them.
Think about how you’ve used those gains to succeed in other areas of life. If you see for yourself how your hard times have indirectly helped you, you can’t help but to be glad those hard times happened! Then, you can really give thanks to those things with clarity. Rather than just saying “thank you,” understand why you’re giving thanks. It may take some time, but repetition is everything. If you can stop staring your problems in the face and see past what went wrong and notice even one small win or gain, you’re making progress. Make it a habit to turn your losses into wins and find yourself finding thanks for just about everything in your life.
Mediation can really help you tap into that endless pool of things you can pay gratitude to. Meditating teaches you to become aware of your mind and observe it from a bird's eye view. That sense of awareness is what will help you become aware of all that life gives you, from the big things to the small. You’ll go from being thankful for the simple go to things that come to your mind always, to becoming aware of how much every experience, person, etc serves you.
Like I said, gratitude is so much more than just paying lip service to yourself. It's a habit that has to be developed, but one that is well worth the effort in developing. Rewiring your brain to think this way is something that will truly change your perspective on life. Implement these practices and notice a good chunk of your "problems" fade away. Last I heard, they call it a blessing in disguise!