What is the one positive habit you have formed that changed your life?

I start each morning by expressing gratitude for what I have in my life. It’s my way of saying thank you. It takes less than 5 minutes, but it impacts my entire day.

 

Here are a few things I am grateful for:

My family; my home; small things like the sunny morning (or hearing the birds singing outside); the wonderful breakfast that I will prepare; having food in the fridge; something in particular that I am looking forward to (meeting my best friend, going on a long walk, writing a letter); having the opportunity to write, which is what I love to do.

These are the changes I’ve noticed since starting my practice of gratitude about a year ago:

  • It helps me see my life as plentiful. I’ve found that there are always new things to add to the list, in addition to the ones I’m grateful for on a regular basis. For example: today, I am grateful for having running water at home, because I realized how tough it is to be without it yesterday (because it was turned off due to repairs in the area where I live). Also, today I am grateful for several kind comments I got regarding my writing on Quora. It made me thing how wonderful it is to share experiences with each other, even when we live in different time zones all over the world.
  • It trains my brain to think about positive things. When I start the day thinking about the positive things I have in my life instead of problems and things that are more negative, I notice that my brain stays focused for a longer period of time on the good things. Devoting those 5 minutes to being aware of the good things sets the tone for the rest of the day and keeps me in a good mood, even when my busy schedule kicks in.
  • It impacts how I communicate with other people. I’ve noticed that I am more relaxed, open, and communicative. I like to get into conversations, ask how things are going, and whenever I get the chance I like to point out the good things I hear from people about something positive happening in their lives. This in turn helps them to feel good about that one thing, even if they feel rushed or overwhelmed with juggling responsibilities and their busy lives. This subtle change shifts the tone of the conversation and helps us enjoy our time spent together even more.

Here are a few tips for starting this simple 5-minute daily habit:

  • Do it early. When you start your day with gratitude, you will feel the effects throughout the day. You can say it in the shower, as you’re making your bed, getting dressed, or preparing breakfast. If you have a few minutes, sit down and close your eyes as you’re saying thank you. It won’t affect your schedule but it will make you feel more calm and happier right away.
  • Start small. Focus on three things you are grateful for today. It can be the simplest of things: having a warm bed to sleep in; a roof over your head; a family that loves you; friends or a partner who you trust and who help you become the best version of yourself; food in your fridge; a dog or cat that you have as your pet; an education that allows you to read, write, etc.
  • Be specific. If it’s a family member or friend, emphasize which of their qualities you are grateful for (they’re warm, gracious, kind, loving, incredibly funny). If it’s having a warm bed or your own room, point out why this is important to you (you can have quiet time in the evening to read, play guitar, or work on a project you love).
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