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A Simple Exercise for Gratitude

Scientific research has shown over and over again that people who practice gratefulness and gratitude are happier than those who don’t.

This sounds obvious, doesn’t it?  Yet, most people find it challenging to make gratitude a regular part of their lives.

If you've developed the habit of complaining, or if you've developed a jaded, ornery spirit, always looking pessimistically at life, then yes, practicing gratitude sounds ridiculous to you.

A grateful spirit needs to be NURTURED by practicing gratitude.  For some, this is difficult, and for some it's not difficult at all.

Whoever you are and wherever you currently land on the "gratitude spectrum", let me make a suggestion:  develop a HABIT of gratitude.

One thing that helps us develop a behavior or mindset into an actual habit is to create a ritual that ensures that we practice the behavior/mindset.

Here’s one ritual for you to try:  at the end of every day, write down 3 things that you feel grateful for.

Yes, actually write them down.  You may want to keep them in a notebook or journal.

Here are my suggestions:

1-at the end of every day, write down 3 things that you’re grateful for.

2-commit to doing this for the next 30 days.

3-if you miss a day, don’t freak out, don’t shame yourself, and don’t quit.  Just move on and resume the next day.

4-don’t write the same thing down every day.  It’s ok to repeat things now and then, but don’t be lazy with this.  Otherwise it’ll be a meaningless exercise.

5-think about experiences you have during the day that you’re thankful for.  You can list that experience, or it may connect to a larger category or theme.  Or, specify what it is about the experience that you're grateful for (e.g., "I met some new people who seem like potential friends.")

6-you don’t always have to do this, but if you’re specific, you may open up an entire “treasure chest” of gratitude topics.  For example, if you say you’re grateful for “family”, that’s good, but if you ask yourself “why?” you’re grateful for your family, you’ll discover much more to be grateful for.

Adjust these recommendations accordingly, or come up with your own format.  Whatever the case may be, give this a shot for 30 days.

It's nearly impossible to do this exercise for 30 days straight, and not be lazy about it but engage with it in all seriousness, and not experience a more positive, grateful spirit.

Anyone out there willing to accept my challenge?

Let me know the results!

-Sean Cox, Chicago

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I’m Sean Cox,

I write these articles to provoke you to look at your life–to consider where you currently are and where you could be in the future. I want you to break free from the status quo, pursue your potential, and become a razor-sharp asset.