In the middle of the shit storm that was 2020, like many people, I was struggling but compared to many I was very very fortunate. I had a full-time job I kept through the pandemic (but I was miserable going into work everyday when we started back in person), I didn’t live alone and therefore saw people and had a support system every day, and I had more time than ever to spend building up my business, working on myself and my mental health and to just, you know, have fun and relax.
I have read for several years now about morning routines, and gratitude practices and yada yada yada and always thought it sounded a little woo woo and not grounded in reality. But, in the middle of the lockdown while worried, tired of being cooped up, and anxious, me and my roommates at the time started a routine where during dinner, we would go around and say one thing we were grateful for that day and in time, it helped us to appreciate the small things. Soon after, I finally devoted a journal to a gratitude practice and every morning, I woke up and wrote down 3 things I was grateful for.
I have done this almost every single day since and it has changed my life. The one habit I started that has changed my life is having a consistent gratitude practice. I have to admit, but all those life coaches I follow on instagram or people that told me I should start one, were right. And I truly believe everyone should have a gratitude practice in some form or another.
For me, my routine looks something like this. I wake up, chug water and go get the coffee (that I set the night before because I’m addicted like that). Then I meander back into bed with my cozy string lights on, or sometimes I’ll sit outside for a bit, and pull out my journal where I write at least one thing I’m grateful for at that moment. I reflect on the day or day(s) before and just write a few quick notes. And sometimes, the thing I’m grateful for is just to have a quiet moment with coffee in my hands and to be cozy in my bed (and that’s already a lot to be grateful for when you really think about it).
That’s it. Done. Takes all of 5 minutes max! Nowadays, I also read for 10 minutes after and since adding that to my routine, I’ve finished more books in the last year than I probably did in the last 5 years combined – all in 15 to 20 minutes each morning.
I think everyone could use a gratitude practice of some sort, especially entrepreneurs. Have you heard of the term hedonic treadmill? Yea, me neither until a few weeks ago (which is why I decided to write this blog) but anyways. The hedonic treadmill is the idea that us humans tend to stay at a pretty steady level of happiness despite major fortunes or achievements in life. Basically, we adapt quickly to the good things that come our way and our accomplishments and return to our previous level of happiness. The result? We’re chasing rainbows. Always.
I feel this to my core. I’m an enneagram 7, which means my innate desire is fulfillment and avoid any boredom. I’m always looking for the next best thing. And that can make it difficult for me to actually feel a sense of accomplishment or realize the improvements and blessings in life. For example, when I ran my first half marathon, I was proud of myself for one day. The next day? I had already set my eyes on a full marathon. Same goes in business and so forth.
Enter gratitude. Every since I’ve started sitting down and thinking about what I’ve accomplished – what’s good in my life, the support and important people I have, the blessings and opportunities I’ve been giving – I’ve become much happier with where I am in the present. That doesn’t mean I’m not still chasing achievements and dreaming of rainbows. It just means I’ve learned to enjoy the race to the rainbow a lot more and I remember to thank the people and things that help me reach them.
Entrepreneurs are a special kind of person. We’re driven, energetic, often outgoing (in our own way, not to be confused with extroverted), less risk-averse, and I find that at the core, we’re dissatisfied, at least in part, by the system and have a nagging urge to do something different, something that lights our fire inside. For me, that’s photography – serving others and documenting time and I chose to start my own business because I wanted control over my own time. I’m not a big fan of being on someone else’s clock.
Between social media and societal pressures, there’s a constant need to grow, scale, do more, take on more, make more and in that process, it becomes all too easy to forget to pause and reflect on where you’ve gone. There are days when I stop to think about what my life was like 12 months ago and it blows my own mind.
When I started being more grateful, I also learned to give more grace, especially to myself. I’m a tough judge for myself, and I’ll bet you’re pretty hard on yourself too. But when you start making it a habit to, what’s the saying, stop and smell the roses… and become grateful for those roses, you also become a nicer person to yourself and then to others. I’m not perfect. Never will be and I definitely still get sad, mad and depressed. But I’m definitely a much happier and reflective person since starting a consistent gratitude practice.
I know, it sounds woowoo and life coach-y. But seriously, just start. You can write something down every night, or every morning or heck, start with once a week. Or maybe you don’t even write it down and instead, every night after you lay in bed, you think about what you’re grateful for. All you have to do is start.
Starting a gratitude practice has truly changed my life. It’s nothing wild, deeply profound and book worthy, but it has made me happier and I think that’s worth 5 minutes a day, hands down. The practice of showing gratitude for things in my life led me to ultimately quit my full-time job and make the leap to full-time photographer and work for myself. It was a scary leap but deep down, I knew I had it good and could make it work. That has been the best move of my life and so many things have continued to change and flourish since. That’s not to say there haven’t been any bad days. Ohhhhh have there been! But thanks to the bad days, I’m soooo grateful for the many more good days (and don’t dwell in the bad nearly as much).
There you have it. Gratitude. The one habit that changed my life. Do you have a gratitude practice of some sort? I’d love to know! Hang out with me over on the ‘gram and let me know!