There are two gratitude exercises so simple and so powerful that they could completely shift the course of your life.
“Gratitude” can mean a number of different things depending on the context. It’s a specific feeling, a broad feeling, an expectation, a form of etiquette, and a cultural tradition. But did you know that practicing gratitude exercises can actually rewire your brain for happiness and success?
If you can capture the feeling you get during a holiday dinner and spread it throughout the days of your life, you’ll be amazed at the transformations that take place.
In this blog, I’m going to talk about some of the scientifically proven benefits of gratitude and then I’ll share two gratitude exercises that will change the way you see the world – and therefore what you see in your world.
Let’s dive right in…
If Gratitude Was a Pill…
If a scientist somehow found a way to put the mental and psychological effects of gratitude into a pill form, every person in the world would be rushing to their doctor to get it prescribed. That’s how powerful it is…
Raising your overall levels of gratitude is scientifically proven to:
- Raise the happiness you experience in everyday life
- Increase productivity by 31%
- Deepen your social bonds
- Decrease stress
- Contribute to a longer, healthier life
- Boost energy
And the list goes on and on.
It doesn’t require a prescription and it doesn’t require a lot of effort, so why wouldn’t you take it? And if you’re worried because you don’t naturally feel grateful, don’t worry, because gratitude is a skill that develops rapidly. The keynote speaker at my recent Success Summit, Shawn Achor says that genetic pessimists who practice gratitude once a day for 21 days test as optimists by the end of that period – and if they keep going beyond 21 days, the improvement keeps going.
But what if you feel like you don’t have much to be grateful for? Well… you do. I’ll let you prove it to yourself as we jump into the exercises.
Gratitude Exercise No. 1: The Power of Scanning
This exercise comes directly from Shawn, one of the leading researchers in the field of positive psychology. He’s used this technique with some of the top corporations in the world and had stunning results.
All you have to do is take about ten minutes a day to write down or say out loud three things you’re grateful for that happened within the last 24 hours.
Does it seem a little too simple? It’s not. What makes it so effective is the 24-hour window which forces you to scan for things to be grateful for. When I ask what people are grateful for, the overwhelming majority say things like, “my health,” “my family,” or “my friends.” And yes, of course you’re grateful for those things, but that “of course” makes the exercise ineffective.
The power is in the scanning, which rewires your brain for happiness and positivity. Try to do this exercise every day for 21 days without repeating the same thing twice. You’ll be amazed at the number of blessings in your life.
Gratitude Exercise No. 2: Playing with Time
While the first exercise is about increasing your general level of gratitude and reaping all the benefits that come with it, this one is more specifically geared toward increasing your productivity and achieving your goals.
Your subconscious mind is like a hunting dog that can track down anything in the world you want. It’s smarter than our conscious minds, more complex than the most advanced supercomputers, and capable of seemingly impossible things. All you have to do is train it what to look for.
Here’s the key… It looks for things it already believes are already real. Time and space don’t exist for the subconscious, just like they doesn’t exist for your thoughts and feeling, and gratitude makes things real because it programs your mind to them. So this exercise is about making the future seem real. Let’s make this simple…
What you’re going to do is write a list of 15 things you’re grateful for:
- Five from the past
- Five that you have right now
- And five that haven’t happened yet
But the real trick is that you’re going to mix them all up. Maybe start with two from the past, one in the future, one in the present, two in the future, one in the past, etc. Any order you want.
When you do this, you’re putting yourself in alignment with what you desire and programming your subconscious mind to guide you toward it. If you want, you can even write them out separately and then jumble them together and read them out loud.
Take This Weekend to Begin Your Transformation
Remember what Shawn Achor said can happen when you practice gratitude for only 21 consecutive days. It will transform your life.
Right now, you have more than 21 days remaining before the end of the year. If you get started practicing these two exercises this weekend, you’ll step into the new year as a new person – sharper, clearer, healthier, and most importantly, happier.
I hope you take this to heart and know that I am grateful for you.