A grateful heart is an integral part of a healthy mindset. As I’ve been asked to speak on mindsets quite a bit lately, (one of my talks is entitled Master Your Mental Code (or Mindset), the subject of thankfulness and a grateful heart have been top-of-mind. Negative self-talk, which acts as a mental virus is ever present in our society. When writing the book Bad Code: Overcoming Bad Mental Code that Sabotages Your Life, I compared a mental virus to a computer virus that can completely take over and destroy a computer hard drive, just as a mental virus can keep you trapped in negativity.
So where does a grateful heart fit in the picture of viruses and computer hacking? First, a grateful heart puts the focus outward, on someone or something else. We live in a me, me, me society with selfies, self-actualization, self-promotion, and more. Gaston, in Beauty and the Beast, is a perfect metaphor for this. He was so focused on himself and personal gain that he ended up losing everything, including his life.
Albert Einstein, who developed the theory of relativity (1879-1955), once delivered a speech he titled, My Credo. In it he anticipated our numbness to gratitude. In part he said, I am often worried at the thought that my life is based to such a large extent on the work of my fellow human beings, and I am aware of my great indebtedness to them.
There is so much we have today to be grateful for. If I lived in 1919 instead of 2019, my life would be totally different. I wouldn’t have the modern conveniences that free me up to do the work that I love. For example, transportation. If I could even afford a new Ford Model T in 1919, the top speed would be 40-45 mph. Achieving that top speed would assume the roads were in great shape and with a reasonable route to take me from my destination to my home. The hour drive I took today would probably take me at least three or four hours, assuming no traffic or engine trouble!
A grateful heart is absolutely necessary in order to get beyond the paralyzing feelings of entitlement and of a victim attitude. One of our biggest obstacles is forgetting what we’re thankful for! Even the holiday, Thanksgiving, is glossed over with ad after ad for Christmas gift giving. How many really stop to give thanks on that day? Most would admit the day centers on the meal, including turkey and all the fixings. It’s so easy to forget about being grateful when we get consumed with our challenges and focus only on things in our lives. So how do we obtain a grateful heart? I'm suggesting THREE HABITS to start.
THREE HABITS to Do Every Day for a Grateful Heart
ONE: Look in the mirror when you wake up and say out loud, I’m thankful to be alive! Then say it one more time if you really didn’t mean it!
TWO: Find one new thing to be thankful for in your day and write it down in your journal. (You do have a journal, don’t you?) You should have a running list that will help you create and maintain your grateful heart.
THREE: Post a reminder of one item in your journal in a place where you’ll see it often. You can even create a social media meme. This repetitive process will create an outward emphasis that will allow your grateful heart to be self-perpetuating, just like a healthy virus! (if there is such a thing!)
Here is to developing your grateful heart and ridding you of the damaging mental viruses of negativity!