It’s Thanksgiving here in the USA, but I bet many of you struggle with gratefulness regardless of the season. Let’s face it, when surrounded with the daily challenges of life, it’s easy to forget to be grateful. In fact, you may not even want to be grateful because it may feel out of place with the challenges and stresses of your busy life. I definitely get it.
Despite how it might feel, I’ve discovered gratefulness is a powerful weapon in the fight against procrastination and for peak performance. Peak performance requires visualization of success, calm confidence and a willingness to take risks. If you struggle with procrastination, you know it kills all three of these elements of peak performance.
Practicing gratefulness improves overall health, confidence and the ability to live in the moment, which together crush procrastination and unleash peak performance.
I want us all to operate at our peak, so let’s dive into:
- The science behind gratefulness
- 10 ways to practice gratefulness on a regular basis
My goal is to help you see the importance of gratefulness as well as provide easy ways for you to begin this key practice of success.
The Science Behind Gratefulness
First, gratefulness isn’t some mystical, zen mumbo-jumbo that’s only useful for monks. Science has proven that gratefulness can dramatically improve both your daily life and your productivity.
In a study in 2003, one group of young adults was instructed to keep a gratitude journal and another group was told to keep a journal of all the things that annoyed them. The results were rather shocking:
The young adults assigned to keep gratitude journals showed greater increases in determination, attention, enthusiasm and energy compared to the other groups.
Gratitude has also been shown to improve the quality of sleep, reduce depression and anxiety, increase blood to the brain, improve relationships, enhance empathy, improve self-esteem, improve mental strength, and increase dopamine levels in the brain.
As Amy Morin wrote in Forbes:
…gratitude may be one of the most overlooked tools that we all have access to every day. Cultivating gratitude doesn’t cost any money and it certainly doesn’t take much time, but the benefits are enormous.
Clearly, gratefulness is both a tool and a weapon.
If you find yourself operating at less than peak performance and procrastinating about important projects, the solution may be as simple as increasing the amount of gratitude in your life.
10 Ways to Fight Procrastination with Gratefulness
It’s one thing to know that gratefulness improves performance and helps you fight procrastination, but it’s another thing altogether to practice gratefulness on a regular basis.
With that in mind, here are some simple ways to incorporate gratefulness into your daily life:
1. Keep A Gratitude Journal
Take a few moments every day to write down a few things for which you’re grateful. Consider people, circumstances, personal strengths, challenges overcome, and things soon to come. Sometimes, just waking up on this side of the dirt is worth appreciation. Also, don’t feel the need to write in beautiful prose; a few simple bullet points will do.
2. Make A Promise Of Gratefulness
Research has shown that when we make a promise or vow, that action is more likely to happen. Therefore, write the following vow and post it somewhere you are sure to see it: I promise to be grateful today and to count my blessings. This simple note will always remind you to be grateful. No excuses.
3. Speak Words Of Gratitude
Using words of gratitude, such as blessing, gift, fortunate, and thanks, increase the amount of gratitude in your life and put your focus on what others have done for you rather than what you’ve achieved. Thank somebody for something. It’s easy.
4. Live In The Moment
Settle in your mind that living in the moment gives you the best chance of success.
[pullquote align=”right”]Settle in your mind that living in the moment gives you the best chance of success.[/pullquote]
Planning time is critical, but once engaged in an activity, constantly looking to the future or regretting the past kills both gratefulness and productivity. Instead of always wanting to be somewhere else, savor every moment of every day. Make a concerted effort to be mindful and present even if you’re in the midst of a task you don’t particularly enjoy.
5. Highlight The Positive
With every person and in every situation, emphasize the positive rather than the negative. Be thankful that a cold room will keep you refreshed and awake. If a person laughs in a way that annoys you, focus on how much joy they have.
6. Make A Gratitude Board
Gather pictures, quotes, and anything else that inspires you to gratitude. Put these items on a board and then put the board in a place where you can see it. Start small just by remembering to save these items. Once you have enough for the board, add to it on a regular basis and you’ll soon see just how many things you have to be grateful about.
7. Refuse To Compare Yourself To Others
Teddy Roosevelt famously said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” All of us face the regular temptation to compare ourselves to others. We compare our looks, wealth, jobs, cars, and just about everything else. Few things increase unhappiness and decrease performance like comparison. Instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on the blessings in your life.
8. Focus On Helping Others
Instead of always thinking about yourself and what you don’t have, take the time to help others. I’m serious. Schedule it and get it done. Not only does this increase your own motivation, but it also reminds you of all the wonderful joys in your life.
9. Give At Least One Compliment Every Day
Charles Schwab said, “The way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement.” At least once per day, compliment someone. This practice will dramatically improve your relationships, which in turn can have a positive effect on your career. Plus, it takes your focus off what annoys you and puts it on why you do appreciate people. If you take your eye off of deficiencies, there’s lots to appreciate.
10. Go Through The Motions Despite Your Feelings
There will be times when you don’t feel like being grateful. Frankly, complaining can be a release, but it’s a release that deflates and destroys. Despite the temptation, it’s in those moments you still need to go through the motions of gratitude. This will keep gratitude at the forefront of your mind even when you don’t feel it in your heart.
Legendary basketball coach John Wooden said, “Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out.” Wooden may not have known the science behind gratefulness, but his 10 NCAA championships prove that he understood the close tie between gratefulness and operating at peak performance.[pullquote align=”right”]“Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out.” — John Wooden[/pullquote]
Procrastination will slow you down, kill your performance, and make you an unhappier person in general. Gratefulness, on the other hand, empowers you to get more done, live confidently, and enjoy every moment.
Yes, gratefulness is a choice, but when you consider the benefits, why wouldn’t you choose it?