Note: This is a guest post from Karl Staib, author of Bring Gratitude.
I felt stuck.
I was stuck.
The screen glowed white and I had no idea what to write. I hung my head. I had so many good ideas and now they felt so bad.
So very bad.
I looked up at the ceiling and growled.
I got up to go to the bathroom. I looked up what time the basketball game would start tonight. Then I hopped on Instagram and before I knew it a half hour was gone.
Poof! A half hour I can never get back.
Why was this so hard? Then I remembered the secret to my focus. It’s funny how we forget the most basic things at times.
I opened my Gratitude Journal in my Google Doc and began listing all the things I was grateful for. I could feel my energy rising. I could feel myself getting back on track. After just two minutes of writing, I had an idea.
I could write!
By taking a moment to pause and appreciate, I was able to get my focus back on track. I got back on my computer and you are now reading the article that came out of this frustrating moment.
Anyone can use this tool to keep their focus on what matters. The hard part is remembering to do it.
Building the Habit
It takes time to build the gratitude habit. It wasn’t until my third try that it stuck for me. Part of the reason why it took me so long to catch on was because I didn’t fully understand the benefits.
When I first started my gratitude journal I didn’t realize that I would become more productive and build better relationships. I just thought it would help me with my mindset.
Then as I dug deeper into the research, I found there were heart health benefits too. Gratitude journaling lowers your heart rate because you are pausing to remember the good things that happened to you within the day.
I also noticed that people worked harder when I appreciated them. That’s when I found Dr. David DeSteno’s research. He found out that when people feel proud of their work they will work 40% longer. This happens when a boss or coworker shows gratitude for their hard work.
The benefits were racking up. I began to take it more seriously.
I suggest to most people to keep it basic. Don’t go nuts with your gratitude journal. Take just two minutes a day to do it.
Those two minutes will eventually build into something great.
Most of my clients that came to me for help didn’t want to spend 2 minutes on writing in their gratitude journal every single night. They liked the idea of it but didn’t want to actually do it. Once they did, they saw the power in it.
It requires a mental shift. Giving yourself time to process the day from a place of gratitude doesn’t happen naturally for most people. You have to put systems into place.
I’ve given talks to groups and the feedback was amazing then when I followed up to see who actually started and maintained a gratitude journal, it was probably less than 5%.
Of those 5%, the results were amazing. They got the productivity boost, the health benefits, and the improved leadership skills they sought. The other 95% got the short term boost that they wanted from the talk and went about their lives.
If you truly want improved focus, you have to start with your mindset. When you start with being grateful for what you have you plant the seeds that will help you stay focused on what matters to you. The repetition of keeping a gratitude journal helps you pause and appreciate what went well, then your subconscious goes to work trying to make this happen more often.
If you made it this far, I’m asking you to pledge to start a gratitude journal and keep it for at least 30 days. It’s literally 2 minutes a day for 30 days. That’s less time than it takes to watch a movie.
Keep It Simple
When you start your journal focus on your “what” and your “why”. The why is important because it reinforces your ability to store it in your memory.
It should look something like this:
- I’m grateful for my 20-minute walk today because it allows me to slow down.
- I’m grateful for my bed because it allows me to wake up without back pain.
- I’m grateful for the Rolling Stones because their song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” helps me remember to enjoy the present moment.
By doing this every day you are infusing gratitude into your attitude. This leads to the endorphin boost that helps you stay focused on what truly matters to you.
If you’re looking for a way to build a more resilient mindset, join the free 30-Day Bring Gratitude Challenge running May 1st thru 30th. You’ll get email updates and 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.
Karl Staib is the author of Bring Gratitude and the Creator of the 30-Day Bring Gratitude Challenge.