" When it seems like everything in your life sucks and everything is falling apart, gratitude will be that major vibe-shifting force that really does work wonders because if you want to attract more into your life to feel good about, then you gotta learn how to feel grateful for the good that is already present." - Nathalie Thompson
You know that moment in Monopoly when you pull the card that says, "advance to go collect $200 dollars"? Well, gratification can feel like that. You get to bypass all of the circumstantial pitfalls and land in a neutral place where you finally get a reward. While feeling #blessed is gratifying, gratitude is not just a momentary high. It's an emotion, and more importantly, a mindset that lasts long after you've received the initial jolt of joy and fulfillment that accompanies being thankful. And before you roll your eyes and think, "Oh crap, another annoying article about how to be grateful by going out to pet puppies and pick up babies in my spare time," stop and ask yourself if you truly believe you're incredibly lucky to be living your life right now. If the answer is no, then it's definitely worth the next 3 minutes of your time to read this post to the end.
Similar to meditation, the concept of gratitude is deceptively simple but can be difficult to consistently cultivate in our lives without very real intention. Unless of course, you're a naturally chipper and grateful person. If that's the case, awesome and keep it up! For those of us who need a bit of help in this area, we've found that small changes in perspective can push our minds to experience gratefulness more organically over time.
What keeps many of us from feeling ecstatic about our lives is not that we don't find enjoyment in certain aspects of it but that we get stuck on focusing on the things that aren't working (ex. how slow our progress seems to be, the significant other who's on some nonsense right now or the co-worker who came out of pocket). Even these situations, with the right lens, can give us something to be grateful for. The significant other may actually be great 9 out of 10 times and today (or this week/couple of months) is just not them at their best. Remember the other 9 times and focus on that. Use the co-worker's bad attitude as a reminder that no one has the power to steal your joy (remember that awesome article?). And that slow progress, that's just a nice reminder that we may need to course correct, try something new or double down on where we are seeing growth.
While it may seem a bit counter-intuitive to think about life's little grievances as things to be thankful for, the point here is to shift our perspective from being annoyed to being grateful. It turns out we can re-wire our brains to be more joyful when we do! If you don't believe us, check out The Grateful Brain written by a UCLA neuroscientist who backs it all up with great research and even explains how gratitude has been shown to have a direct affect on depression symptoms.
Essentially, when we think differently about where our happiness can come from (we're looking at you gratitude), we open the door for so much more joy to flow into our life. And the greatest joy we find in being grateful may just be that the feeling wasn't as far away as we thought. It was hidden under all our complaints, covered by an inability to see the good in every circumstance and camouflaged by our perspective.
THE BLACK ZEN TEAM