The Be Grateful Module: Overview & Plan
By Leo Babauta
When I first started changing my life, about 8 years ago now, one of the most important changes I made wasn’t physical or financial, but mental.
It was such a small change, but it really affected everything else. I learned to see the good things in my life, the good things every day, the good in others, the good in seeming problems and “disasters”.
I learned to be grateful, instead of complaining.
Why was this so important? A few key reasons:
- I was happier more of the time — instead of thinking about the things I didn’t like or didn’t have, I focus on what I did have and what I liked.
- When I failed at a habit (or anything else), I focused not on the personal failure, but on what I learned (which is always something to be grateful for), and so it helped me with future habits.
- It made my relationships better, because I thanked the people close to me, saw the good in them, and didn’t take them for granted or complain so much.
- It made all my other changes better. Instead of complaining about how hard exercise was, or how much I missed the junk food I was used to, I became grateful for a lovely run, and for delicious healthy food.
The list goes on, but you can see how powerful this one change is.
However, mental habits are often harder to change than positive habits. Complaining happens all the time, in ways we often don’t recognize, and being mindful of something all day long is really hard. Thankfully, we don’t need to change everything at once.
This is a habit I recommend you start with just for a small time each day, and slowly expand each week, and each month. Keep at it, and you’ll see amazing results.
For this module, pick one of the following habits:
- Write in a gratitude journal each morning. It can be in any old notebook, a text file, a computer journal program, a blog — it doesn’t matter where. Write down 3-5 things you’re grateful for each morning.
- In the evening, say 3 things that were good about your day. If you have a significant other, do it with him or her.
- If you already do one of the above, try thanking at least one person each day, with specific reasons you’re grateful. More than one person is a bonus!
- If you already are good at the ones above, an advanced habit is to be mindful of complaining (even just in your head), and when you catch yourself complaining, find something good in what you’re complaining about.
- If you’re good at all the ones above, then find something good in seemingly bad things each day. From war in another country to someone dying to a loved one getting diagnosed with a disease, find something to be thankful for.
OK, have you picked one? If you’re not sure, pick one of the first two. Only pick the others if you’ve been doing one of the first two for awhile.
Now that you’ve picked your habit, here’s the plan:
- Pick a trigger. When are you going to do that habit? If it’s morning journaling, pick a trigger that’s already in your routine, such as having coffee or taking a shower or waking up. You’re going to do the new habit right after the trigger. No waiting or doing anything else.
- Make a commitment. Tell your friends and family you’re going to do this. Blog about it, post it on Facebook or Twitter. Join an accountability group on the forum, and commit to your accountability group. For extra motivation, set a consequence if you don’t do the habit for more than one day in a row, and/or a consequence for getting 30 straight days.
- Set reminders. You don’t want to forget to do the habit after the trigger, so you’ll need to be reminded at first. Later it becomes more automatic. But at first, put paper reminders near where the trigger happens, and reminders on your phone or computer to go off before the trigger normally happens, and even ask those around you to remind you. Do what you have to in order to remember!
- Do the habit, and report. Do your habit, and log it on Lift and/or your accountability group, or your blog or Facebook or Twitter. Having daily accountability helps a lot.
- Be grateful you’re doing the habit. Smile, take a deep breath, and give thanks that you’re able to do this habit. See it as something you get to do, not something you have to do. You are lucky to be doing this, and it’s a miracle you’re alive.
Add extra accountability if needed — ask a friend to hold you accountable, or do a challenge with a friend or group of people, set stronger consequences for missing even one day (a week without alcohol or coffee or sweets or something you’d miss a lot).
Good luck, my friends, and thank you for being here.