Why is expressing gratitude so hard, and why does it matter?
This month I started the Last 90 Days challenge with Rachel and Dave Hollis, along with 350k+ people all over the world. This challenge is all committing to living the last 90 days of the year as hard as the first 30 days. So many of us lose ourselves in the Kit Kats and Reese’s, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pies (multiple), egg nog, and other delicious temptations over the holidays. With the stress of year end at work, and the family around the holidays, we do it and excuse it because January 1 is the time you can start over.
What does this challenge consist of? The baseline is to do the below every day:
When I asked a few friends if they wanted to do the challenge with me, I was shocked by the response of almost everyone re: #5: Write down ten things you're grateful for every single day. They all said they didn't want to do it! That it was too hard to think of ten things they're grateful for every day. That it would just depress them to see the seemingly little things they were grateful for.
I thought if anything, this would be the easiest thing to check off the list. I mean, just LOOK at the other things on the list. Take five min to write some stuff down, or wake up an hour earlier than you normally do??!
I think the reason people responded like this is because unless you make it a habit, you don't actively express gratitude for day to day life. We think being grateful for something has to mean that it is some grand event. We take for granted that we have a home with AC and heat, a significant other to love and be loved by, our health, supportive friends, family, access to clean water, Google, podcasts on every topics imaginable, free books from the library, access to fresh fruits and veggies, or the ability to move our bodies however we want. If you really take a good look at your day, you'll see there is no shortage of things to be grateful for. Turns out they are actually grand events, even unattainable, for most people in the world. So many of us, including myself, have lost perspective and need to get it back.
Ok, so you have your list. Now you're wondering, "But why is expressing gratitude important?? I'm just writing down the same stuff every day."
For me, it's about energy. Not just physical energy, but mental and emotional energy as well. Is your mind slow and foggy? Are you physically exhausted? Do you have a bunch of negative thoughts bringing you down? The lower your energy, the lower you perform in all aspects of your life -- work, personal, relationships, health, happiness, etc.
So how do you increase your energy? We waste so much of it every day bitching about everything - our commute, boss, coworkers, clients, bad service, bad products, just life in general. By making it a habit to express gratitude daily, you start searching for the good in each day. You slowly shift your focus on the positive, which will start to crowd out the negative.
Changing the way you think, and thereby changing how you feel is not easy. You have to be intentional about it and work at it every day. You have to actively choose positivity and happiness.
But writing down ten things you're grateful for every day? That should be easy. And if it's one step in helping you increase your happiness -> energy -> performance, why not just do it?