By Jim Rettew
If you haven’t noticed a theme with me, its this…I get frustrated with the oversimplification of happiness advice. It starts to turn into superficial, watered-down drool. One piece of happiness advice we often hear is about gratitude.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I think gratitude is a KEY to happiness. I just think when experts say, “be more grateful”, that’s not helpful. It’s akin to saying “lose some weight”. Everyone would agree with both statements. The key is always HOW?
Through a regular day, I just don’t remember to be grateful. It’s not habitual. What I found is…I need a trigger, something that 1) reminds me to realize how good I currently have it, and 2) happens when I’m most able to receive it. I’ve found that this can happen when you may be most in pain.
Pain is the trigger. A trigger has to be something disruptive. It has to be something that is currently shaking you down. What if every time you started down the ‘grass is greener’ mental minefield, you were triggered to remember how lucky you really have it?
With that logic, anything could be a trigger, like a ringing phone. Why I like to use times when you’re having negative thoughts is because 1) gratitude disrupts that thought process very quickly and efficiently, and 2) its such a start contrast (a good contrast) to where you just were. It shakes you back to reality. It makes you actually authentically feel the gratitude, instead of it being just window dressing. Something about the stark contrast between the negative and the positive makes it more powerful, like coming out in the sunlight after being in a dark room.
So the next time you’re comparing yourself to someone else and feeling down about it, use that event as a trigger for your own gratitude. Try it out and tell me if you think its more effective.