Mental Focus Through Gratitude
The process of developing efficiency, clarity, and insight can be as simple as writing a list of 10 things that you appreciate.
Gratitude is one of the trendiest words in use today — being grateful, practicing gratitude, appreciating, etc. — but don't skip over this practice because of its simplicity and commonality. Many great truths are hidden in the obvious.
I begin and end every day by writing a list of 10 things that I am grateful for, and I often write several more lists of 10 throughout the day. To develop and maintain order in life, we must first order our minds to think clearly and focus. In this way, we are not swayed by joy, excitement, anticipation, anger, fear, anxiety or any other emotion. We feel these and accept them, but they do not pull focus from the task at hand, distract from daily or long-term goals, or serve as an excuse for behavior that doesn't reflect who we want to be. Part of the process by which we gain this level of control over our emotions is gratitude.
How Gratitude Works
When you focus your mind on what you are appreciating, it serves as a meditation on only what you want. We personify what we focus on, so if we regularly focus our minds on what we want, we can't help but become more of what we want.
Gratitude can also keep our mood up by maintaining a sense of fulfillment from ourselves, our current circumstances, and daily successes. Without practicing gratitude regularly, it is inevitable that we start feeling annoyed by daily interactions or circumstances. Thinking in that way often spirals — one negative thought leads to another and eventually impacts our actions, behaviors, and relationships.
When faced with a challenge or hardship and we choose to practice gratitude, we are focusing our minds on the solution and not the problem. This empowers us to believe that a solution does exist.
Writing Your Gratitude
I have experienced the positive impact of living with a focus on gratitude. In writing a gratitude list, I always write at least 10 things that I'm grateful for. By the time I have sat down and written 10 things I am grateful for, no matter how busy, rushed, angry, or excited I feel, I am calmer and have more clarity on what the best next step is. Writing 10 things that you are grateful for serves as a short meditation that you can practice throughout the day. Some of the things I list are repeated throughout various lists, but I push myself to find three new things to be grateful for on each list.
The physical act of writing is in itself very important because it takes what exists in our minds and brings it into tangible reality. This is what we want to do with our goals, and writing gratitude is a powerful tool in achieving our goals.