A few weeks ago, I was talking to a friend who admitted he felt that everything had gone wrong for him his whole life. Granted, he was having a difficult week and it was overshadowing everything in his life. It was all doom and gloom, and as I was listening I realized he wasn’t looking at his life through the right lens.
When I asked him to list at least one thing that had gone well for him, he was at a loss. He said there wasn’t anything he could think of. So I pointed out that he was happily married, with two healthy young children, and had recently moved into a new home his family loved. He sat there quietly for a moment and I saw his demeanor change instantly. The reality set in that he would never be happy with anything he accomplished in his life if he hadn’t been able to acknowledge the things he was grateful for first.
It’s likely you’ve already heard about the benefits of a gratitude practice. Research has found that people with a regular gratitude practice express higher levels of contentment and satisfaction with life. Which makes sense, and gratitude is also a critical part of reaching your goals.
With that being said, there are some common misconceptions that come along with a gratitude practice. And these misconceptions result in resistance to developing a regular practice of gratitude.
So let’s address those misconceptions here to help you start your practice today. First of all, practicing gratitude doesn’t mean ignoring your problems or the things you need to work toward. Instead, gratitude helps you acknowledge that there will always be problems present in your life. But you can find contentment and happiness despite them.
Any type of goal setting should start with a focus on what you already have and what’s going well. It’s not possible to make progress forward in your health unless you acknowledge what you’re grateful for. If you are always focused on what you can’t do, you’ll perpetuate a cycle of self-defeating thoughts and you won’t get anywhere.
Reaching your goals in anything require you practice gratitude and your health is no exception. Without a focus on gratitude, you’ll just keep spinning your wheels. Nothing will ever be enough. Health goal setting is messy enough already. Don’t complicate it further by starting in the wrong place.
There is even plenty of research to show that those who focus on gratitude are not only more likely to meet goals, but also live a more fulfilled life. There will always be unmet goals on your list, which is important to acknowledge. As you reach your current goals, the goalposts will move. Life will never be without problems so by focusing on gratitude you can train your brain to be equipped to be in this constant state of growth and problem-solving.
So where do you start? It’s simple. Write down at least one thing today that you’re grateful for. It can be as simple as being grateful that you got out of bed this morning. And repeat this practice again tomorrow. The more you repeat, the more you condition your brain to focus on gratefulness all throughout your day. Just like any practice, it gets easier with time. And before you know it, you’ll cultivate regular feelings of thankfulness with very little effort.
What can you be grateful for today?