While I’m no fan of the “we live in the best of all possible worlds” view, there’s considerable research that cultivating a positive outlook results in happier, healthier, and more successful and satisfying lives. As Joseph T. Hallinan points out in his book Kidding Ourselves: The Hidden Power of Self-Deception, while the pessimist may be more of a realist, the optimist’s self-deception often gets results, sometimes startling results like the “placebo effect” where patients improve on fake treatment.
There’s also a considerable body of research showing the power of a sense of gratitude in achieving both personal satisfaction in life and success. Every week you can hear some top athlete or CEO giving thanks or expressing gratitude for the support or “lucky breaks” in his or her life. Of course, top athletes and CEOs have a lot to be grateful for, but in actuality studies find the gratitude comes before the big achievements.
Gratitude has also been found to have significant positive affect on health as well. Patients expressing a grateful outlook appear to respond better to treatment, report experiencing less pain, and find it easier to make healthy changes in lifestyle habits.
So how can we develop a habit of gratitude?
Take time each day to write down 3 things for which you are grateful that day. Do this for 66 days in a row. (For more information about why 66 days, and to download your free 66-Day Success Tracker chart, check out this post.)
Why do I need 3 Gratitudes?
We need to write down, and focus, on at least three things we are grateful for because, as Chade-Meng Tan of Google states in his book Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace), it takes three positive thoughts to overcome the “stickiness” of one negative thought. We tend to focus on the negative (more on this in a later post), so we have to work a bit harder to shift ourselves into a positive mindset.
Do I have to write the 3 Gratitudes down?
Yes. Okay, you can type them somewhere if you prefer. But the key is adding a kinetic action that requires you to focus on what you are doing and thinking. If you’d also like to meditate or concentrate on the 3 things you are grateful for each day that would greatly reinforce and enhance your gratitude. (Again, we’re going to talk about meditation and mindfulness (or prayer) in an upcoming post.)
Can I be grateful for the same 3 things each day?
Ideally, you should be finding new things, or at least things that are specific to that day. They can be very small things. For example, on a day that wasn’t going very well (to say the least), I wrote that I was grateful for the clear skies, I was grateful I could walk (someone in a wheelchair had passed by the window), and I was grateful I had a roof over my head. They weren’t much, but just that pathetic list broke my gloomy thoughts and gave me the push to take one more small action.
So take just 3 minutes today and make a note of 3 things you are grateful for.
And let me know what you are grateful for or any results you note in your attitude in the comments below. (And to get notices of new posts and upcoming events, sign-up for the newsletter. No spam and I would never share you email address with anyone without your consent. I promise.)
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