What’s the point of being grateful?
I was in London visiting a friend. The city is big, but I had no space around me. Literally, no space. It reminded me of when I was a small kid in a crowd, and everyone was taller than me. I felt trapped, and I always had to look straight up to find space to breathe. Actually, I was on the underground. You can feel the smell oozing from the person next to you, the man wearing the brown suit. Then someone else’s hand starts covering your hand. No space on the bar. You can’t even see who they are, because there’s no room for you to move your head. Stand still or perish. It must be the woman with the yellow handbag. Your body tenses up. Getting the underground on peak times in London is very annoying.
You know what else is annoying? Being late. Especially if something out of your control happened, and you can’t even blame yourself. (By the way, if that’s every time it’s time for you to be honest with yourself).
The other day I was late, I bumped into someone and we had a brief chat. I didn’t want to be rude, but I also didn’t want to cut the chat short. But when it was over, I was a few minutes late. I hate being late. It just feels uncomfortable, like it’s a permanent mark on my record.
And what about when the wifi is slow? Or when you feel pain? Pain is definitely annoying. The other day I injured my shin and woke up with blood around my leg.
Gratitude is in the eye of the beholder.
Let’s rewind a bit, and go through the same experiences one more time.
Isn’t it pretty extraordinary that there’s an underground train bringing me from North London to Shoreditch in minutes? I could have walked it in hours or be in a taxi stuck in traffic. Without it, I would never have been able to see two friends on the same day, go to the British Museum, and back again to the train station. That is kind of beautiful if you think about it. I’m grateful for that.
When I was late, I actually had a pretty interesting chat with the person I bumped into. It wasn’t in my plans, and so I initially felt bad about being a few minutes late. But the fact that I can just walk around and have a good chat in the streets, that’s kinda beautiful too.
And the wifi is only when I compare it to the superfast connection I enjoy 99.95% of the time, but notice only 0.05% of the time. The internet is kinda beautiful.
And it was incredible to see my leg heal in days, and be able to jump around again. That’s cool too.
Gratitude is a matter of perspective: if you take everything for granted and feel like it’s owed to you, all you’ve got left to focus on is the negatives. But when you take the time to observe the world around you, there’s plenty of cool stuff to be grateful of.
It’s always peak time on Matt’s train of gratitude.
The power of appreciation.
Appreciating the good that’s going on in your life has amazing positive consequences that will ripple through your every day.
Here are my favourite six:
- Gratitude improves overall health and happiness: people that express gratitude suffer from less aches and pains, found a recent study. Unsurprisingly, grateful people are also more likely to take good care of themselves.
Psychological health also improves, with toxic emotions like envy, regret, resentment, and frustration kept at bay by a wall of appreciation.
- Gratitude helps you sleep better: a 2009 study found that those who expressed gratitude more often had a better sleep quality and were able to sleep for longer than those who didn’t.
…something else to be grateful for in the morning!
- Gratitude reduces stress: when all your focus is on what you don’t have, you start stressing. You feel like the clock is ticking… or like someone else is better off than you, and you don’t even notice your own accomplishments. Gratitude keeps these thoughts at bay, and by making you focus on the present moment and on what you actually have, builds a solid foundation for intentional change, and allow you to get closer to your goals.
- Gratitude sustains relationships: when you don’t take people for granted, people notice. You say “thank you”, you smile, you listen, you ask a question. You make people feel appreciated, and you give positivity rather than putting more stress on their shoulders. Plus, nobody likes a complainer.
- Gratitude fights the loser mentality: if you have a negative attitude and feel like everything is against you, you’ve already lost. Period. When you focus on the negatives, you are giving a lot of power to things that are outside your control. Suddenly having to stop at a red light has ruined your afternoon. How can you ever be intentional when anything has this much power on you?
The good news is that by starting to be grateful for a few minutes every day, you can start a positive and long lasting change.
- Gratitude makes you lucky: when you focus on the negative, it looks like the whole world is against you. But when you focus on the positive and don’t take things for granted, you embrace your own luck and will start to notice how many lights turn green in your day-to-day life. It’s like the game is suddenly rigged in your favour.
Pretty incredible right? My favourite thing about gratitude is that it reminds me that the glass is not only half full, it’s also refillable.
How can you start?
You can take 5 minutes every day to be mindful and appreciate the present. Or you can journal every day and list the things you appreciate. You can do it at dinner with your family: instead of complaining to each other, share three amazing things from your day. Or you can write down three things you’re grateful for on a sticky note, and keep it on a wall as a reminder for when you feel down.
It doesn’t matter how you do it, as long as you do it. Don’t miss out on all this goodness!
What goes on the list?
Anything that makes you feel good. From a smile from a stranger in the streets, to a pay rise, all the way through the existence of the internet or your own daily determination. You make the rules.
Let’s start today. What are 3 things you’re grateful for today?
Send me an email and let me know. NOW!