“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
Practice gratitude and you’ll be more grounded and grateful in life.
When I visited my parents this past Christmas and New Years, I reconnected with someone whom I haven’t seen since high school.
It was early afternoon and I decided to go for a run in my neighborhood.
There was a lake that I used to run around when I first started running.
This was the place when I cultivated the fondness for running.
As I was running back home, I saw this man standing on the sidewalk holding a pen and notebook in his hands.
Feeling curious, I paid closer attention to him and I immediately recognized his face.
Although I haven’t seen him in ten years, I knew exactly who he was.
I stopped running and stood next to him.
I called out his name just to verify and he said: “Oh my goodness, Perry is that you?!”
After a few minutes of conversation, I found out he was there writing his motivational and inspirational poems.
He told me that there was a man who was involved in a car accident at the traffic intersection a few days ago.
Living in the neighborhood, he took some time out of his busy life to visit the accident scene to get some motivation for his writing.
As I later found out, there is also a tragic story behind my friend.
A few years after high school, he got into a serious car accident.
His friend and he went out to have a few drinks.
Thinking he can still drive, his friend took the wheel and started their way home.
During the drive, the car crashed into the freeway railing.
As a result, my friend was in a coma for months.
He was extremely lucky to even be alive.
But the price was heavy as he experienced memory loss and permanent brain damage.
These behaviors were clearly evident during my interaction with him.
But I praised him for having a strong and positive attitude on life despite what happened to him since most people would have the victim mentality mindset.
They would ask “Why did this have to have to me?” and “Why I am the one who has to suffer this?”
He honestly told me that he was in that state as well shortly after the accident; he lost the drive to live because he didn’t have his “why” and purpose.
But then he realized feeling sorry for himself was a waste of time and what has happened can’t be undone.
Instead, he chose to focus on the present moment and plan for the future.
Now he spends most of his time writing poetry aimed to motivate people and shed a light of inspiration in their lives.
He carries around his notebook and writes down important things that he sees and hears so that he doesn’t forget.
Running into him that day was not a coincidence.
I took it as a sign for me to share this story with you.
Often we’re busy chasing what we want that we don’t appreciate what we already have.
Occupied chasing that new shiny object, we start to neglect the things that truly are important such as our family and friends.
We start to take things for granted!
Those things include your health, relationships, and all materialistic things that you have.
They all serve a purpose in your life.
If they don’t, then remove them from your life.
For materialistic things, donate or give them to someone who will find value in them.
Be grateful and practice gratitude on the things you do have because you already have more than you’ll ever need.
Everything else that you want in life is just a bonus.
Be grateful that you’re alive this moment, your relationships with your loved ones, and your bed so you can have a restful night of sleep.
When you practice gratitude, it grounds you and makes you realize everything you need is right in front of you.
Here are three gratitude acts you can start implementing today.
1. Appreciate the Simple Things
After you wake up, think of five things that you are thankful for.
These can be experiences, people, or physical things.
One that always makes my list is my bed.
Without it, I wouldn’t be to able enjoy the sleep that I just had.
You can simply say them out loud to yourself.
If you want to take it to the next level, then you can write them in a journal.
After initially disciplining yourself to write your gratitude in a journal, you will eventually build the habit of doing it daily without thinking about it.
It becomes automatic and second nature, just like brushing your teeth in the morning.
Performing gratitude act first thing after you wake up will increase your success rate because that’s when your willpower is at its highest.
2. Thoughtful Messages
Another simple gratitude act you can start doing is to send quick and thoughtful messages to people that have done something nice for you.
For example, if you’re about to go out for a run and just put on the pair of headphones that a friend gave you as a gift.
You can send your friend a thoughtful and specific message like below.
“Thank you for the headphones! I’m about to use them for my run!”
Your friend will appreciate you for sending that message!
To take it to the next level, you can go more in depth in your gratitude by writing a longer and specific message in the form of an email.
One of my major influences for the love of math was my high school math teacher.
He had a different teaching style than most teachers that I have encountered.
Rarely using the math book, he taught his classes with impromptu lesson plans and would sometimes go off on tangents about interesting past stories.
He made the class fun; something that I didn’t experience in my other classes.
Math concepts were presented in simplistic ways that were easy to understand and grasp.
I was fortunate he taught both my trigonometry and advanced placement statistics classes.
About a year ago, I sent him an email thanking him for the difference that he made in my life.
By focusing on the specific details such as him giving me encouraging words despite my average performance on my exams, I wrote a thoughtful letter about the impact that he had on my life.
He was the catalyst for igniting my spark and interest in pursuing a college major (chemical engineering) related to math.
Although I didn’t get a response, the simple act of thinking of someone and writing out what I was exactly thankful for was the main purpose behind it.
It trained my mind to recognize gratitude whenever I see them.
3. Gratitude Visit
This practice is extremely beneficial for both the giver and the receiver.
How this works is you write a letter to someone that has made a significant impact on your life.
It has the same idea as the email that I wrote for my high school math teacher.
But instead of sending the email, you read the email to your benefactor in person.
I have done this recently with a close friend and he absolutely loved it!
He said it was humbling and touching to hear a thoughtful letter about him from a close friend.
It definitely brought us closer as a result and I have inspired him to carry out his own gratitude visit in his life.
How many times have you heard of this story?
A man finds out he has cancer with six months to live.
He quits his job and travels the world, something that he has wanted to do for a long time.
His friends think he’s crazy but he himself has never been happier.
Most of the time, we procrastinate because we think we have an infinite amount of time to do something.
We think that because we don’t know when we’re going to die.
Most of us think we can live forever.
But in reality, that’s the furthest thing from the truth.
Death is inevitable and it happens to all of us.
No one has escaped death and no one ever will.
Do you honestly think you can start going after what you truly want after you retire?
If you’re still alive at age 65, will you still have the energy and drive to chase what you truly want?
Most people say life is short.
That’s because most people spend most of their life doing things that they don’t want to do.
It doesn’t leave much time for the things that they want to do.
Even when they do have time, they rather spend it doing other mindless activities such as watching Netflix marathons instead of pursuing their hobbies or goals.
Life is plenty long if you spend most of your time doing what you love.
Do you really need to know that your days are numbered before you take responsibility for your life?
If you were to die next month, would you still be doing what you’re doing?
Would you still go work at the same job, be with your partner, or watch porn and masturbate?
If not, what would you do instead?!
Whatever that is, start doing more of it now!
“If you live each day as it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.”
― Steve Jobs
I’m not recommending you to live each day like it’s your last by blowing all your money on useless things and eating junk food.
I’m talking about the things that you spend most of your time doing.
Are you proud of how you’re spending your time?
Would you be content with yourself if you were to die tomorrow?
Would you go to the grave with a smile on your face?
Don’t take your life for granted because it’s ending one second at a time.
Go live a life that you will be proud of and smile about when you lay on your deathbed.
Please share this article with anyone who you think may find it valuable.
If you have any questions and/or comments on gratitude practice, please leave a comment below or send me an email.
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