Gratitude is a Superpower
I recently saw a short video clip by Steve Harvey on gratitude. He told the story of his mother’s funeral in a compelling way. He said his mother’s death, he thought at the time, was the worst event of his life. He was sitting at the funeral service depressed. The minister began to talk about his mother. He spoke about how many people had shown up because his mother meant so much to so many. He spoke about how his mother, a veteran Sunday School teacher, had touched so many people, which is why the church and overflow were packed. As he talked, Steve began to smile for the first time in the days since his mother’s death. And then, the minister highlighted an important principle. He said, “Joy and depression cannot reside in the same space.” Steve went on to say, “When you get depressed and discouraged, you gotta replace it with joy, and what is more joyous than gratitude.”
Steve Harvey may seem like an unlikely life coach. However, his words on gratitude ring true with what many of us already know, the expert research of our times, and even the timeless wisdom of the Bible. Gratitude changes our outlook. If gratitude is so powerful, how do we create gratitude in our lives?
Here are 10 gratitude hacks that will change your life:
1) Create a gratitude discipline. Each morning, remind yourself of the things you are grateful for. Steve Harvey has a list of 75 things he is grateful for, and he works through the list each morning. He says that even when he gets up on the wrong side of the bed, he can’t get to number 10 without having a smile on his face.
2) Write down things you are grateful for. My wife, Vicki, has developed a habit of writing 3 to 5 things that she is grateful for each morning. After several years, she has multiple notebooks filled with these things. The exercise of looking for something to be grateful for sets her mind in the right direction each morning. I’m hoping I am on that list at least once or twice!
3) Express your gratitude to others. Being thankful is one thing but expressing that gratitude to others takes it to another level. I’m working on being better at this hack and learning to express gratefulness to others in a very specific and purposeful way. It truly adds value to people to identify specifically and thoughtfully what you are thankful for about them. And sometimes, expressing this thankfulness in front of others makes it even more impactful. John Maxwell says, “There is something about expressing gratitude to people that is essential for them to hear and for us to give.”
4) Express gratitude toward God. James wrote, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Expressing gratitude toward heaven changes your perspective, which sometimes is what most needs changing.
5) Gratitude reminders. We are all busy, and it is easy to trend toward negativity. If you need help with this, create reminders. An alarm on your phone, a note on your monitor, or a post-it on your dashboard can help remind us to stay out of that negative funk with a proactive moment of gratitude. Take a minute to say it out loud. “I am thankful that I have my choice of food every day. I am thankful that I can drive a car. I am thankful that I live in a country where freedom of choice is still alive.”
6) Be on guard against gratitude killers. These look different for everyone. What do you have to get rid of to stay positive? I can tell you that I had to get rid of talk radio. I also avoid too much news. These things sway negatively, so I must limit them. It could be something entirely different for you. It could be just cutting out sarcasm, certain video games, or avoiding social media.
7) Remember from where you have come. Sometimes, a short look backward is all it takes to inspire gratitude. Look back at the journey and remember to be thankful for every step, but also be grateful that you are not where you once were. If you are in a season on the journey where your path is fraught with pain and trials, hang in there and work even harder to find moments of gratitude.
8) Consider where you could be. Sometimes, we overlook the greatest successes because once trouble is averted, we move on quickly to the next challenge. What if that problem had not been resolved the way it was? What if that health issue was not in the rearview mirror? What if that business crisis had swayed the other way? Don’t stay here too long, just long enough to remember, and let gratitude rise in your heart! Sometimes, I think we will look back from heaven one day and see how many times we were rescued from trouble we didn’t even notice.
9) Remember those who have helped you. Success comes from the assistance of MANY other people. Self-centeredness is a gratitude killer. Make a list of who has helped you on your journey. Be sure to acknowledge and appreciate those around you. The benefit to you is profound, but you also encourage and build up those around you.
10) Take positive actions to counter negative tendencies. The human status quo is to be negative. To counter this negative slant, find positive actions to sway the balance in the other direction. Drop someone a kind note. Volunteer at an event to welcome people. Look for someone to encourage. Send a note of thanks to that teacher, that friend, that person who made a difference. There is nothing like positively engaging with others to create gratitude in both of you.
Gratitude is a superpower. It changes who we are and impacts those around us as we express our thanks. Keeping our gratitude superpower charged isn’t easy with the kryptonite of negativity at every turn, but it’s worth the hard work. Let’s take time today to stir up gratitude and express it to those around us. It will change things!
Scott Hirschfeld is the President of CTaccess, a Brookfield IT support company that has been helping businesses stop focusing on IT and getting back to doing business since 1990. Under his leadership CTaccess provides the business minded approach of larger IT companies with the personalized touch of the smaller ones. Connect with Scott on LinkedIn.