I have long practiced the kind of gratitude exercises that I described in a recent post. Recently, at an iPEC seminar for professional coaches, I learned another gratitude exercise so powerful that I’ve incorporated it into my daily gratitude routine. I think it can change your life, too.
“Change my life?!” I can already hear the skeptics. Yes, it’s that good. I know some people wonder how gratitude can help. I was once in the same boat—running around like a chicken without a head, or a hamster on a spinning wheel, whose off button disappeared. Sure, I did some meditation and yoga. But running seemed to be the only way to really destress.
If only I knew then that there was another way, that the path to happiness did not involve trying to bend time to meet milestones that couldn’t physically be met—but rather by embracing what I have and knowing that happiness is within reach and within me.
This change of mindset starts with acknowledging what we have. This not only brings us joy; it also creates a feeling of abundance within us, and abundance attracts abundance.
If we open our eyes, we can see it…This is why I love this gratitude exercise so much.
First, about an hour after you wake up in the morning, jot down three things that you’re grateful for. Don’t overthink. These do not need to be complex: having breakfast with your children, having time to go to the gym….
Start with the #1 thing you’re most grateful for, then list #2 and #3.
Next, throughout the day, keep your eyes open for more things and experiences that you’re grateful for. This will sharpen your eyes, senses, and gratitude antennas. And continually re-rank your gratitudes. At the end of the day, re-rank your gratitude list. (Did anything new make it to #1?)
By following this gratitude routine, instead of looking for problems to happen, you will see coincidences, happy surprises, gifts, serendipities, and beautiful synchronicities showing up in your life. The reason is simple: you have refocused your mind away from your problems, real and imagined, and shifted your thoughts to all the beautiful things—big and especially small; in the future and especially the present—that await you.
This routine, unlike most other gratitude exercises, requires us to keep our eyes open throughout the day, greatly increasing our chances of recognizing and appreciating the wonderful things that constantly happen. We are more upbeat, more creative, more energetic, and more open.
Life, of course, is filled with hardship too, as well as joy. But by encouraging us to focus on the positive, this routine can make your life still more joyful. Gratitude really does open eyes.