What do you want that you can’t have?
A trip overseas? The latest piece of tech? Cake? Someone else?
Why do we get all kinds of crazy when we can’t have something?
What is happening to us?
Can we control it?
I believe Gratitude is key to achieving a beautiful life today.
I want to share some ideas which will help you to practice gratitude.
This will help you focus on what you have right now and why this is far more important than what you don’t have.
But first, 1983.
Santa – You Are My Only Hope
I would have been around four years old. My parents worked hard and money was often a struggle. My Dad was a welder, building tanks for the British Army. My Mum stayed at home in the early days so it was a single income house.
I never recall wanting for anything but also knew we did not have a lot of money.
Christmas was coming and there was only one thing I wanted, a Millennium Falcon. Return of the Jedi had come out the previous Summer and although I don’t think I had seen the film I had seen Star Wars.
The films started in 1977 and the toys were the number one seller, some six years later. The most popular toy was the Millennium Falcon and it was also the most expensive at around £25. Today the cost would be £80+
As a kid I had no concept of my parents struggle and the lack of money. The disappointment was high when I opened my presents on Christmas Day morning.
A few weeks later I went over to see Chris, a friend who lived opposite.
I’d not seen him since before Christmas and was keen to see what new toys he had.
Guess what Chris got from Santa?
I stared with envy as the Millennium Falcon took up a huge space on his bedroom floor.
Chris always seemed to get what he wanted at Christmas and as a four-year old I did not understand why.
I jumped straight in, playing with all his Star Wars toys. I had great fun pretending to fight the rebel alliance and the battle for the galaxy.
This continued for a few weeks and then, after a while, I did not need to play with the Millennium Falcon. I went off it. I’d had my fill and it was boring to play with it. I had my eye on the next toy.
If Santa had hooked me up, I suspect I would have bored with it far earlier.
Hey Look at That Grass
In life we follow the same pattern, whether we are four or forty-four.
We want something we can’t or don’t have..
We get frustrated and unhappy, or we go down the instant gratification route
We then go cold or get bored with what we have.
How crazy is that?
So why do we do this?
1) The Forbidden Fruit
If something is forbidden you pay more attention to it (think about the wet pain sign. how many of you have reached out an index finger and dabbed at the pain?)
2) Supply is Low and Demand is High
Ever seen the panic in a parents eye if they can’t get hold of the latest kids Christmas gift? This.
3) Control Issues
We don’t like to be told what to do or what we can’t do. Our urge to resist is an emotional one and we often think ‘Just try and stop me then!’
The grass is not always greener. We dream of something better, or we fear of missing out in some way.
Once we achieve these things they lose their allure, their mystery and we get bored.
Living a Beautiful Life
So, how can we avoid disappointment in our life and be grateful for what we have. In other words how can we live in the now?
1) Gratitude Journal/Diary
I have developed a daily habit of writing. I write down the things I did yesterday, what I want to achieve today and what I’m grateful for.
You don’t have to be moving the earth. Keeping it simple works best, when identifying what you are grateful for.
For example I’m grateful that I was able to walk my Daughter to Nursery this morning. It is a special time of the day for me.
She is full of energy, in high spirits and I get to chat to her about the exciting things she will do that day.
Being grateful and acknowledging what we have right now is a great anti dote for what we don’t have.
Studies show developing this daily ritual can significantly increase well-being and life satisfaction.
2 Cleanse the Clutter
Most of us, if we are honest, have too much stuff. We have a cupboard or shed that is close to bursting with stuff we either don’t want or we think we will need in the future.
The other example is your wardrobe. Most of us will have stuff in our wardrobe we rarely wear or we have not worn for several months. Getting rid of clutter and things we don’t need is a great way of being grateful for what have.
Anything you don’t want presents a great opportunity to help out a local charity. Check out your CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) team at work. They will have close links with a charity will often have collection points, so you can take stuff into work.
3) Saying Thanks
At work you will pull on different people, depending on your need.
You may need cheering up after a tough meeting. You may need help in keeping to a deadline. You may want to learn something new or have your thinking challenged.
Whatever it might be, we take for granted that people will help. They are part of your team and you would return the favour, right?
A sincere thank you, explaining why you are thankful, is powerful way of showing gratitude.
If you are in any doubt about this think about how you would feel if someone did this for you. Pretty special, huh?
4) A Personal Note
Some of you may find it hard to do the above, so writing a personal note could be for you.
Note/letter writing is going out of fashion, which is a huge shame. You can turn this to your advantage though and something that is out of fashion will stand out a mile.
Taking the time to be thoughtful, writing down why you are grateful, is an incredible way of making someone feel special.
5) Book Club
If you were to recommend a book to someone right now, what would it be and why?
Most of us have a book on the go, whether it be the latest fiction novel or something perhaps business related. Check out my reading list for my latest recommendations.
If you would recommend the book, how about buying the book and gifting it to someone?
This happened to me recently and I thought it was a novel and cool way of passing on knowledge.
The five ideas I have shared with you are just the tip of the iceberg.
There are many ways in which you can show gratitude for the life you have right now.
In doing so it may just temper the frustration and disappointment of the life we think we ought to be leading.
I would love to hear about the ways in which you show gratitude to the life you have, or to others.