photo: Jessica Tam on flickr

photo: Jessica Tam on flickr

When you think of your life, how often does the word “awesome” come to mind?

All the time? Sometimes? Never?

No matter where your life is on the awesome spectrum, you can make it even awesome-er. And it only takes a few minutes a day!

In spite of my current happy-peppy outlook on life, I wasn’t always this way.

In fact, one of my childhood nicknames was Eeyore. And it wasn’t because of my tail. Or my bulky grey physique.

eeeeeeeeyore!

It was because, no matter what was happening, I created a little rainstorm over it. The rainstorm was my mind, and my mind was determined to find all the bad, gloomy aspects of every situation.

As I got older, things didn’t get much better.

In my junior year of college, I overheard one of my roommates saying that she didn’t like to hang out with me because I was too negative.

Ouch.

Sometimes the truth hurts.

I’d like to say that overhearing my roommate’s comment transformed me, but it didn’t. If anything, it cemented my negative view.

It wasn’t until I was in my early 20’s that everything changed. That’s when I stumbled upon the notion that consciousness is creative.

What we believe has a powerful effect on our lives.

Positive thoughts influence our lives for the better. Negative thoughts influence our lives for the worse.

This isn’t to say that becoming a positive thinker means nothing bad will ever happen to you. But it does mean you’ll be a lot more resilient when challenges arrive.

(See?! I called them challenges. As opposed to horrible, rotten things that happened to me because my life sucks. Just sayin’.)

They’ve done studies showing that some people are born pessimistic. I don’t know where I would fall in those studies, but I do know that my tendency from childhood was to gravitate to the gloom.

photo: Captain Ted on flickr

photo: Captain Ted on flickr

My wife Melissa, on the other hand, is a natural optimist. She got it from her mom, who was the same way.

But here’s the cool thing. No matter where we fall on the doom dial, we can make things better.

How?

With gratitude.

And I’m not talking about a generalized, look on the bright side outlook, although there’s nothing wrong with that.

I’m talking about a systemized way to inject gratitude into your life.

That’s right, I said inject. Like a pill or a drug, but with no side effects. Except lots of smiling.

photo: manduhsaurus on flickr

photo: manduhsaurus on flickr

Like so many other awesome things in the world, this one started with Oprah.

I’m not saying she invented gratitude. Although I wouldn’t be surprised.

A few years ago, I read an interview with Oprah where she said she started keeping a gratitude journal. Every night, she would write down five things she was grateful for that day.

She said this practice changed her life.

I was already completely woo-woo by this point, so I said Why not?

I took her practice a step further and started listing ten things I was grateful for. I’m not much of a journaler, so my practice was to list the ten things in my mind before I fell asleep. (I’m also not someone who falls asleep right away, so I always listed at least ten things.)

Then I met Melissa, and we started doing our gratitude practice together. Because we’re both so happy-peppy, we expanded our practice beyond the starter ten.

Every night, we each do ten gratitudes in the area of prosperity, and then we do ten “regular” gratitudes.

When we’re done with that, we do another practice called the Magic 5, where we each list five things we’re going to be grateful for in the future. We list these 5 things as if they’re already true now.

magic magic magic magic magic

Yes, it’s hard core. But it keeps our Awesome-Meter in a groovy place, even when things are challenging.

In fact, we’ve gotten so accustomed to speaking in “gratitudes,” sometimes we can’t tell if the other one is simply talking, or doing the gratitude practice.

If you already have a gratitude practice, good for you! Thank you for injecting your positive vibes into the world.

If you don’t have a practice, now is the time to start. Really, like, right now!

List one thing you’re grateful for.

Then another.

And another.

Then start keeping a list every night. Or every morning.

Or, better yet, get a gratitude buddy and do the practice with them. Every day, if possible. It will keep you accountable and it will spread the gratitude a little further.

photo: Bev Sykes on flickr

photo: Bev Sykes on flickr

Here’s the best part of this whole gratitude gig:

It barely takes any time.

In as little as 3 minutes a day, you can totally turn your life around!

There are so many practices that help balance our minds, our bodies and our spirits: meditation, exercise, healthy eating. They’re all valuable and most of them take time. Time worth spending.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t commit to these time-filling activities. I am saying that no matter what else you’re doing, you always have room for gratitude.

Oh, and one more thing:

I’m so grateful you read this post!

Oh, and one more:

If you’re not grateful, you’re not paying attention!

photo: Living in Kuito on flickr

photo: Living in Kuito on flickr

How do you practice gratitude? What role does it play in your life? Share your comments below!

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