With Thanksgiving approaching, I thought it would be especially appropriate to discuss a defining characteristic of successful people that I’ve met worldwide. I’ve found that successful and joyous people are usually very skilled at counting their blessings. They focus on what’s right about their life instead of what’s wrong.
Why is this important?
It goes back to the incredibly simple but undeniably profound thought expressed in Earl Nightingale’s great album The Strangest Secret. He said that “you become what you think about all day long.” If you think about that, you’ll realize it’s true. The dominant thoughts that live in your mind will definitely manifest themselves in your life.
Nightingale was certainly not the first or the only one to express this thought either. It’s been reflected in most of the great wisdom literature throughout the ages. The Book of Proverbs says “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” William James, the father of 20th century American psychology said that “if you change a person’s thoughts you change their life.” There are countless quotes and examples that tell us the same thing- the things we dwell on mentally are what we attract into our lives. So when you learn to consciously focus on the things you are thankful for, you get more of them!
So how can we systematically direct our thoughts to these kinds of things? I’ve got three tips for you:
1) Write out a “gratitude list”. Sit down with your family or some friends and simply create a list of things in life that you are thankful for. Don’t rule anything out, big or small. Even if it seems silly, put it on the list. Just this simple act will do wonders for your attitude. It’s a great Thanksgiving activity, plus you can look at it later for an immediate gratitude boost.
2) Watch your self talk. Your brain is talking to you 24/7, so monitor and exercise some influence over what it’s saying. Especially first thing in the morning, when you tell yourself “This is gonna be a great day!” it has an immediate and profound effect on your mindset. If you need a little reminder, refer back to your gratitude list.
3) Do something nice for someone else. Abraham Lincoln said that “It is impossible to lift the burden of another without also lifting your own.” So go out of your way to do someone a favor- even a small one. Send a card to a co-worker, open a door for a stranger, pay the highway toll for the lady behind you. Anything of that nature. The smile you get in return will remind you of the things that are great about people.
Above all, keep in mind what Thanksgiving is really all about, giving thanks. When you focus on the things you are thankful for, you attract more of them into your Life. Try it out, and…