Note from Mike: Expressing gratitude can really make a difference in your productivity so rather than speak to it myself, I went to the expert, my good friend Karl Staib. Karl dedicates his attention and focus to helping others display and share gratitude. He is the author of Bring Gratitude and the creator of the 30-Day Bring Gratitude Challenge.
There were 3 important things I needed to do and I wasn’t doing any of them.
I just kept ignoring my “to do” list.
I was stuck and not used to feeling this way.
As I sat there I realized I had fallen into bad habits. I was letting my worries get the better of me.
A few years ago I added a gratitude journal to my daily habits and my procrastination significantly reduced. I had been forgetting to do this lately and I needed to get back to it.
I pulled out my journal and wrote down why I was grateful for each important task.
- I’m grateful for wanting to write a blog post because it will help me reach more people with my message.
- I’m grateful for the email I’m preparing to send to a potential client because I can help them bring more gratitude to their company culture.
- I’m grateful to record a video for a course I’m building for my audience.
This exercise helped me bring gratitude to each task that I wanted to do. I just needed to appreciate that these were tasks that I wanted to do, not something I had to do.
In the past, I have struggled with my health (Cancer, ulcer, stress, migraines, etc.) and it put a strain on my productivity. As I dealt with these issues, there have been lapses in my ability to get things done. As I recovered from each health issue, I realized that it was often my mindset that was holding me back.
My belief in myself suffered because I wasn’t allowing myself to see the potential positive outcome in each of my projects. I focused on all the negative that might occur.
When my father went into the hospital and eventually passed away, I saw how he struggled with his outlook and his complaining increased as he got older. I wanted to do something about it before I became a grumpy old man that everyone avoided. I wanted to be the guy people gravitated towards.
By this point, I had already read a lot of books on meditation, happiness, and self-improvement. The concept that moved the needle the most was gratitude.
I had kept a gratitude journal in the past and it helped a lot. Keeping a gratitude journal helped me focus on appreciating what I had in my life instead of worrying about what I didn’t. As I started up my gratitude journal again, I began to see my mindset shift. I could feel that gratitude was helping me not just at work, but in my relationships.
That’s when I started turning my journal entries into stories, which helped me go deeper into gratitude. These stories turned into the book Bring Gratitude, which has spurred a gratitude movement.
Choosing to be grateful for what I have and not feeling like I need more has resulted in a big improvement in my outlook and overall happiness.
In his book, Why We Do What We Do, researcher Edward Deci explains that when someone has six positive interactions to one negative, they are 31% more productive.
When you have positive thoughts and interactions, it’s easier to focus on what matters. That may be spending time with your family, traveling, or writing. Positive interactions free you up to have the energy to do what matters to you.
It’s this energy that will spur you to take on projects that might take you out of your comfort zone. Too often we procrastinate because we don’t want to deal with the feelings that will arise when do the work.
Positive thoughts will also make the things you don’t love doing, but are necessary to reaching your goals, a little easier to tackle. I want to be a best selling author. I’m not there yet, but I maintain confidence that I’ll be there someday. I attribute a lot of this confidence to my gratitude journal. Because I take the time to appreciate the good things in my life I notice the snowball effect of this attitude. It has helped me overcome obstacles that I wouldn’t have previously been able to overcome.
I want you to take that first step toward strengthening your mindset, so you can be more aware of bad habits and use them to grow your happiness. Start with a gratitude journal and find a support network to help you keep building the gratitude habit. Keep it simple.
Just write what you are grateful for and why every day for 30 days. I suggest something like this:
- “I’m grateful for the fresh water that comes out of my sink every morning because it makes a great cup of coffee.”
- “I’m lucky to have three favorite pairs of jeans because they all fit me well.”
- “I appreciate my neighbor because he always smiles and waves when he sees me.”
The “why” is important because it helps deepen the gratitude journal experience. Within a few days you will begin to see improvement in your outlook.
If you are interested, join my free 30-Day Bring Gratitude Challenge running March 1st through 30th. It’ll help strengthen your mindset. Join and you’ll get email updates and access to a private Facebook group. If you have any questions, I’ll be available 7 days a week during this time. My goal is to get the smartest and most caring people together to create an amazing community so we can help each other learn from our mistakes and build a life that we love.