Gratitude is an emotion that expresses appreciation for what we have. Sometimes that’s difficult to do in a culture of consumerism. We are constantly being bombarded with messaging telling us the camera on our phone is too small, our car doesn’t have the latest features, or our kids need just one more plastic thing to make them happy. The messaging always tells us that these “things” will make us happier. The crazy thing is, I don’t remember being less happy 20 years ago when I didn’t even have a cell phone or a video camera on the back of my car.
About a year ago I ran across The Minimalists, who reminded me that the most important things in life aren’t things at all. The most important things are people, and the experiences we have in our lives around those people. They also taught me that much of the stuff in my life got in the way of the important.
So, we started getting rid of stuff at our house, we had a big yard sale, sold a bunch of stuff on eBay, and took truckloads of stuff to Goodwill. We haven’t gotten to the level of minimalism these guys have, but we eliminated enough stuff to make our lives a lot less stressful.
Why is this important? Our approach to exercise and health is Simple—20 Minutes A Week, eat more fruits and vegetables, get more sunshine and sleep, walk more, and simplify your life. The last step in The Simple 9 has to do with simplifying your life by reducing stress. The leading cause of stress in America is money. More than half of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings, and 78% of American workers live paycheck to paycheck. For many of us, all this stuff we think we need keeps us on edge and up late at night. It’s really ironic that Americans spend an entire day being thankful for what we have, then the next day we trample people to buy things we don’t need. Did you know Black Friday is an official holiday on the Apple calendar?
Press pause. Start making a list of the things that are really important in your life. You will probably be surprised that most of those things don’t cost money, and the things you’ve spent money on are not providing nearly as much pleasure as you thought.
More importantly, take some time this week to make a list of the things you are thankful for in your life. Focus on what you have, not on what you don’t have. One of the simplest, most effective things you can do to be happier is focus on what’s good in your life every day.
Want to really change your outlook on life? Every day when you wake up, write down three things you are thankful for. If you do this for a week, I guarantee your stress will start to go away. If you do this every day of your life, you will begin to transform those around you. I recently starting using The Five Minute Journal to help me become more mindful and live with intention.
Don’t just be grateful, live it. Spend time this week writing a hand-written note to someone you really appreciate in your life. It’s easy to say thank you in a text or an email, but there’s nothing like a personal note written with real ink on paper.
Do something to show the people around you they are appreciated. At Exercise Inc we are currently reading The Go-Giver, which is, in my opinion, one of the most powerful business books ever written. By the way, it’s only a two-hour read. But reading is never enough, I asked everyone at Exercise Inc to take action on the book. We noticed that just doing little things like warming up someone’s car, or pulling their workout charts for them, makes a huge impact.
At Exercise Inc we are truly grateful for the success we’ve had this year. For the 16th year in a row we’ve grown. We appreciate each and every one of our current and past clients for making that happen. We are thankful for the opportunities we’ve had to help some of you Change Your Life in only 20 Minutes a Week.
As we take time this week to be thankful for the blessings in our lives, remember to do some small things to show others how much you care. Gifts are hardly ever as meaningful as time. Instead of shopping on Black Friday, spend some time with a friend or family member. Call an older friend or relative who might be lonely. Spend so much time face to face with people that you forget to check your social media for at least 24 hours.
Find something to be thankful for every day, not just one day a year, and you will be a happier person.