If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness. It will change your life mightily. ~Gerald Good
Growing up we are always taught to be grateful for the blessings in our lives. We are told to take a few moments each day to reflect on those things that we appreciate. However, that is not very practical. That may sound a bit harsh but it is true. We have busy lives. Sadly, it is rare that a person will randomly stop what they are doing in order to look at the good things in their life.
Occasionally, someone does something extremely generous, all your plans fall into place or some natural beauty will overwhelm you and you will realize how lucky you are to be alive. Those extravagant moments don’t happen as often as we would like. We have too many wonderful things in our lives to sit back and wait for them to slap us in the face in order for us to show our appreciation. We are greatly underutilizing the power of gratitude by waiting for those moments. We must turn gratitude into a habit if we are to fix this problem.
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” – Cicero
I was first introduced to the idea of a Thanksgiving Journal by Darren Hardy. The basic concept is to identify something in your life that you are struggling with. This could be anything from a lack of motivation at work to a struggling relationship. At the end of each day, write one thing that you are grateful for about the situation. For example, if you are married then you might be grateful for the dinner that your spouse made or the beautiful smile that you are so attracted to. This can be any tiny detail that you are grateful for. The more specific, the better.
When you always focus on the positive aspects of the situation, your mind will begin to find them automatically. Your whole perspective will shift. You will realize what drew you to the situation in the first place and remember all the great things about it. What you give your attention to will become the reality of your world. Why not make your reality positive?
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer
Each night when I journal, I have one relationship (friend, family, etc.) that I am focusing on and one situation (project, goal, lifestyle change). I rotate the person and the situation each month. This has greatly helped me to change the way I see friends and family members. It has also helped me to stick with goals and projects I probably would have given up on.
To fully take advantage of this practice, you will need to step out of your comfort zone. At the end of each month, send this list to the person that you have been writing about. The easy way to do this is through email. An email will have a tremendous impact on the person, but you might as well go one step further. If you are not very artistic or creative, like me, then write your list out by hand on nice paper or in a small journal and send it with a card explaining what it is. It doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that. If you have the creative ability to make your list into a book with pictures (or something similar) then I definitely recommend you utilize those skills.
This could be the best surprise that anyone received on a random morning as they start their day. You can also be strategic. If you know someone has a birthday coming up, then start writing what you are thankful for about them. Maybe you do this for an entire year and give it to your significant other on their anniversary. Guys, I promise that no amount of jewelry will create the same reaction that this will.
Don’t be afraid to do this with any relationship in your life. This does not only need to be something between those who are married or dating. It might feel uncomfortable when you give it to a friend or co-worker, but if you approach it in the right way then it will go over great. You can easily find 30 things that a co-worker has done well throughout the month. They will be so shocked and appreciative that awkwardness won’t even be a factor. It might even inspire them to work harder or be kinder since they now know that others are watching.
This one simple task that takes less than five minutes each night can completely change any relationship in your life. People want to be appreciated. Why don’t we give that gift to them? Remind them (and yourself) why they are so special.
Challenge: Start out by choosing ONE RELATIONSHIP in your life that you think needs improving or revitalizing. Each night for the next month, write one thing about that person that you are grateful for. At the end of the month give the list to them in any form that you would like. How do they respond? Now repeat that good feeling in someone new EVERY MONTH. (If the first month goes smoothly, then add a situation but ALWAYS include a relationship)
What other techniques have you found to revive a struggling relationship?