In this article, I want to discuss gratitude, and how it (really!) helps look back with a different mindset.
What do you see when you look back? Do you remember everything clearly? What stands out? Do you remember what made you happy yesterday? Last week? What about last month or last year?
If it's all blurry/unclear, don't worry. It's the case for many people. We all forget most of what we see/experience in life. Our brains are filtering machines because there's just too much information to process all the time. It's no wonder that we forget so much. We tend to cling onto the memories of big events, but forget about all the rest.
In addition, as we age, everything seems to accelerate. Our perception of time changes, our memory becomes less and less reliable (whether we want it or not), and we suffer from "tunnel vision".
Keeping a "gratitude log" helps remember more, and feel happier.
It's the small things...
Happiness is not only a transient feeling that we experience from time to time. It's a state of mind. More than that, it's a muscle that we can all train. A habit that we can all develop. We need to pay attention.
It all starts with the small things. We all tend to think that happiness comes from big life events like having kids, getting married, etc. But, in reality, we can feel happy about many more small events than big ones. But for that to happen, we need to:
- Notice those
- Appreciate those
- Remember those
In addition, we need to stop comparing life events to each other. Yes, in the grand scheme of things, the birth of my third son is a huge life event that made me incredibly happy. But eating my favorite sandwich yesterday also made me happy. Of course, if I compare those two events, one "counts" and the other does not. But in reality, thinking about each in isolation brings me joy.
Keep this in mind: comparison is poison!
Being more grateful about the small things can have a huge impact on your mental state. You may have smiled while walking along the beach, felt proud for helping a family member or friend, been glad that you went out swimming or received a package you were impatient to receive. There are countless small things that make us happier every day. Notice, appreciate, take note!
How to be more grateful
We are bombarded with information. It comes at us from all the directions, all the time. It's all too easy to forget about the moments that gave us joy. To counter that, each day, take about five minutes to write down the things that made you happy. It may be tiny or epic, it doesn't matter. What matters is taking a moment to think about it and write it down.
Here's what I wrote down yesterday:
- I read for an hour and felt relaxed
- I enjoyed going out to ride my bike. The wind felt so refreshing
- I recorded the intro for my course and felt good about making progress on that project
At the end of the week, during my weekly review, I love looking back at all those moments I've captured, no matter how important or insignificant. Those often make me smile, remind me of the good stuff, and make me happier.
Being grateful about the small and big events in our lives is not that complicated and has big upsides. Instead of letting your lizard brain run the show and ruin your mood, take some time to keep track of the good parts. Notice those, take note, and go back to those whenever you need to boost your morale.
What are you grateful about today?
Hello everyone! I'm Sébastien Dubois. I'm an author, founder, and CTO. I write books and articles about software development & IT, personal knowledge management, personal organization, and productivity. I also craft lovely digital products 🚀
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