Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Beginning Each Day with Gratitude

I am a firm believer that our thoughts guide our choices and actions, which in turn have an influence on the results we produce in our daily lives. Though I am a Life Coach, I must admit I have my own difficulties at times maintaining a positive and open mindset, especially with regards to beginning each day with gratitude.

But let's take a step back. What exactly does that mean? I have to admit even I feel a bit hokey saying that you should wake up and just be happy to be alive, or to love and be loved, or just that the sun is shining. I think that one should eventually strive to be happy for such things upon wakening, but I think it takes a little practice to be that Zen about everything. So where do we start?

A little daily exercise that I learned from Dr. Seligman of Authentic Happiness has helped me tremendously with starting out my day with positive energy and happiness, especially on days when I don't feel I have a lot to be happy about. First, buy yourself a nice notebook. Pick out one that speaks to you, with a design your like our your favorite color. Every morning, as you start your day, open that special notebook and write the date. Then write the phrase, "5 things I am grateful for". Below that, list 5 things that you are thankful or grateful for as fast as possible. Don't think too much because you will second guess yourself. There are some days when, "My pen is not running out of ink" is the best thing on the list. Other days it's, "I got 8 full hours of sleep" or "my coffee tastes really good this morning."

After you list out your 5 things, read over them and refer to them throughout the day if you start to lose steam. No matter how your day goes, these 5 things were good! Also, do your best not to repeat the same things in your list on consecutive days. Dr. Seligman suggests not repeating the same things at all, but baby steps, I say.

Once you have done this for several days and listing 5 good things gets easier, I invite you to increase the list size, to 8 or 10 or even 20 things!! It's also fun to go back through your lists to read about what has made you happy in previous days for an extra boost when you need it. Imagine how great you'll feel when you have 365 days of various good things to be grateful for in your life! What an energy boost it'll be to look back on your year and celebrate all you have to be thankful for!

I hope this exercise works for you and brings you joy in your everyday life. I also ask that you share you experiences with me on how this affects your mood. As always, I am wishing all of you great happiness and success in all that you do.