Mindful Monday: How to Change Your Attitude in 5 Minutes A Day

Happy Monday!

You probably saw my podcast about influencing change in your life by changing your environment, i.e. the people you associate with most often and your physical surroundings and how they make you feel. That can certainly be a catalyst for change, but if all your changes are external, you’ll always be chasing that next thing. Suddenly, that next thing, whether it’s monetary success, a relationship, a finished project, etc, is no longer enough, so we go chasing the next big thing.

We don’t stop to smell the roses or appreciate the abundance in our lives exactly where we’re at right now. We don’t “stop to smell the roses” after we’ve planted and cultivated them. If we can’t enjoy the roses in our lives, then how can we ever expect to be happy?

When I was a child, my brother, my mom, and I always played “We had a Great Day”. I didn’t know it at the time, but my mother was going through a really horrible depression after our (at the time) young family moved to Lowell, Indiana, where our closest relative was 2 hours away. We played this every night to highlight all the great things, no matter how minute, and relive and appreciate them.

I still play this with myself from time to time and I need to make it a daily practice again. I haven’t in a long time. But there is an adult version of this game that we can play. Believe it or not, it even rewires our brain and helps us make happiness and gratefulness a habit in our daily lives. And it’s so simple and easy that you’ll probably think I’m crazy.

There’s research to Support this, Btw.

Shawn Achor, a Harvard researcher and extremely successful author, highlights how our brains perform when they’re happy versus negative, neutral, or stressed. If you haven’t seen his TED Talk from 2011, it’s still very much relevant today and I highly encourage you to watch it. The research, for being nearly 10 years old (or more) is still important even for today. I watched him give this speech live as well and met him. He is truly an inspiration for everyone and I’d like to spread the good word about his work. He also has a book, The Happiness Advantage and Big Potential, which dive deeply into his research and give us a better understanding of how we can cultivate happiness on a daily basis.

Our brains perform up to 30% better when we are happy versus negative, neutral or stressed. (Achor, 2011), so we owe it to ourselves to make happiness a habit and make it contagious for others, so that we can impact ourselves, and the people around us, positively.

There’s also research from as far back as 2003 that highlight the daily focusing on blessings versus curses has a positive impact on our interpersonal and emotional well-being. So, there really is something to the phrase, count your blessings.

Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.

The Solution

What would you do to become happier and stay happier every day? How would your happiness impact your family, your relationship (romantic or platonic), your productivity, or your community?

Do you want to hear the birds singing and wake up feeling amazing every day?

Do this: Build a habit of being grateful for 3 things every day.

Let’s start by making happiness and gratitude a habit. While we’ve all heard that it takes 21 days to form a habit, a little tidbit that Maxwell Maltz, a plastic surgeon, taught us in the 1960’s from his observations of patients and his own experiences. While it makes sense and gives us a tangible goal, the original published quote said a “minimum” of 21 days. More recent research shows an average of closer to 66 days and that messing up once or twice (it happens! That’s life!) doesn’t affect the habit forming process.

So, let’s throw that 21 days and we’re successful garbage out the window okay?

Now, let’s simply commit 5 minutes day out of our lives, whether first thing in the morning, right before bed, or when we get a spare moment to think about it, and write down just 3 things we’re grateful for.

You can handle 3 things right?

It doesn’t matter how minute or insignificant they seem. Sometimes on the really hard days, that’s all we can come up with. But, it doesn’t make those moments any less valuable and they don’t contribute any less to our daily habit.

So, 3 things in 5 minutes a day. You’ll likely do this in even less time than 5 minutes.

My 3 things

I’m writing this on Sunday, but, upon reflecting on my weekend, I can say there are for sure 3 things that I am grateful for:

  • I am grateful for the (almost) daily calls from my mom. I will always cherish her voice and talking to her.
  • I am grateful that my dad has enough of his health to continue 1000-yard shooting competitions (something he LOVES to do)
  • I am grateful for waking up to the fallen leaves on an autumn morning and enjoying coffee on my front porch.

See? It’s that easy. If you can’t find 3 things to be grateful for, be grateful that you woke up this morning; be grateful that you are loved by someone (your parents, siblings, friends); and be grateful that the sun came up and will set again. We often take these things for granted and don’t realize how much of impact they have on us.

I’ll be sharing my 3 things daily and I hope you will too!

Tell me, what are you grateful for today?

Go in love and light,

Les

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