It only takes a minute each morning. Before I open my email, before I get started with my work, I stop and write down three (or more) things I’m thankful for.
It’s a simple thing. Just a brief pause in an other wise hectic day, but there’s some kind of magic in practicing gratitude. As business owners we have a lot on our shoulders. For many of us it’s not just our business, but we also have a lot of responsibilities at home; we are active in the community; we try to have a life… It can get overwhelming.
When I get overwhelmed my family tells me that I’m “getting grouchy”. I start feeling a little selfish, a little bit of a martyr. “Why can’t I just get a break? What do these people expect of me?” It can feel like it’s me against the world. Everyone just keeps piling it on. It’s up to me to just throw it on my back and battle my way out! So, like The Incredible Hulk, I get kind of ugly. It’s not a pretty picture.
It’s in these times that gratitude has been so powerful.
That 5 minute pause for gratitude helps me to see that I’m not actually alone. There are a number of people — my staff, my spouse, my friends and community — who are all pitching in to help me. Maybe not always in the perfect way that I want them to, but they are there. I’m not alone.
Practicing gratitude for those 5 minutes each day also helps me with perspective.
When I think about how thankful I am that my family is safe and healthy I don’t feel so panicked about the emails piling up in my inbox. When I’m thankful for the clients who have put their trust in us, and who give us interesting work that challenges our abilities, I’m not so grouchy about the long drive out to meet with them. When I’m thankful for the many mentors who have taught me how to be a leader I’m not so frustrated with my young staff member who’s constantly coming to me for direction.
You don’t have to take my word for it. One control group study showed not just a marked improvement in happiness but more frequent exercise and fewer doctor visits for those who make a conscious effort to be thankful. There’s actually a lot of research about why this may work. Maybe you want to give it a try? (It works for Oprah).
How do I keep a “gratitude journal”?
1. Pick a regular time — I do it first thing in the morning. Oprah does it before bed. But make your time consistent.
I challenge you to try it out.
So before you start work each day, write down at least three things you are grateful for. Keep a running list so you can go back to it on especially tough days. Write it down, or use an app.
(And if the journal idea isn’t for you. Here’s 8 other ways to amp up the gratitude.)
Before we go, I want to say how grateful I am for you.
My readership has been pretty stable over a long period of time and I’m grateful for those of you who are on this entrepreneurship journey with me. Knowing that you are reading, and taking action on what you read, makes this all worthwhile. Thank you!