Gratitude leads to a great life
Updated: Oct 20
"Always have an attitude of gratitude." - Sterling K. Brown
The most difficult season of my life was the fall semester of my junior year in college.
I was filled with anxiety about what my career would look like. Wondering: Would I have a job after graduation? What if no one hires me?
I was struggling at my current college job. Frankly, I should have gotten fired. More details in my post on work ethic.
My mom passed away 7 months prior in the spring.
I was battling through a breakup and some friendship issues.
And, to top it all off, my grades were slipping mightily. Likely as a result of all my anxiety.
In short, I was struggling... really struggling.
Knowing this, I'm a person who prides himself on taking control of situations and making the most of them. Yet, no matter how much effort I put forth, I could not get out of the funk I was in.
I felt like I was in a constant state of sadness. I had no motivation, drive or desire to do anything of significance.
This led me to do some research. And if I remember correctly, I literally googled "How to be happy." Which is actually sad looking back, but I assume some of you reading this may empathize with what I was feeling.
What popped up was a Ted Talk by Shawn Achor titled, "The happy secret to better work."
Yes, technically it is about happiness at work. But he applied his principles to everyday life as well.
I watched the talk probably 20 times in a row. The information he provided was life-changing for me and I believe will be for you.
He called it "positive psychology."
He talked about how the secret to a great, fulfilling life is gratitude. Money, significance, popularity, accolades, or even relationships don't bring lasting happiness. Instead, it's a sense of thankfulness for what we have in our lives already.
He says that 90% of our happiness is not about what happens to us, but how our brains process what happens to us. It's less about our circumstances and more about how we see our circumstances.
Happiness is primarily about perspective.
Now, don't hear me wrong: this is not some "speak it into existence" jargon. That is false and flies in the face of what the Bible teaches. God is the giver of gifts and blessings, not our affirming mindsets (James 1:17).
This is all about being content with what we already have - which is the only way to be truly happy.
Here's how he recommends getting to that place. I call it the "gratitude challenge" and will be doing it daily for the next 3 weeks. I highly encourage you to do it with me, it will change your life!
1. Write down three things you are grateful for. This can be anything you are thankful for. Your car, your spouse, a productive day at work... anything!
2. Journal about one positive situation from the past 24 hours. This involves writing one-two sentences about something good that happened in the past day or so. It helps us relive that happy time.
3. Encourage someone every day. This can be an email, text, handwritten note, phone call, or even face to face. Just be intentional about encouraging or complimenting one person every day.
4. Get some exercise in. Lift some weights, go for a run, CrossFit, or even take a walk around the block.
After doing a month of this gratitude challenge, I was in a completely different state. My problems were not gone, but I viewed them through a much better lens. It was incredible for me and I know it will be for you.
Give this a shot! You can even throw it into your quiet time.
I'll be posting a template on my social media that you all can just copy and start writing on. But, you are welcome to create your own template. Excited to hear how it helps you all!