Become your best: Maximize your emotional time - The habit of gratitude

Positive Habits
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To really be fulfilled and achieve to your potential, you need to do the things that inspire, drive and energise you. Most of us know that.   The real challenge, is how do we achieve it?  How do we manage to find a career that ideally fits in with the things that our closest to our heart?   In his book "Emotional Time: The importance of Gratitude" Carl De Wet looks at a number of things we can do to focus our time on the things that will make us energised.

Build the habit of gratitude

Time management is a very useful practice, and ideally we should all be focused on the right things, those that are important, those that are urgent, and those that will lead us to long term success.  The time management habit is one that we need to build, but let's first make sure that the time we have available to us is maximised by doing the things that energise us.  Some key messages from his book that we can build into our daily habits are:

Identify the things that give us inner strength and drive.  Note that these aren't the external things like wealth , prestige or fame.  Inner satisfaction comes from being aware of our needs and following those.  To become aware of your needs, start each day with gratitude time.  Create a habit of mindfulness, or meditation at a time which suits your lifestyle, and be grateful. Learn to say "thank you" for small things, and large, for things that people do to you, and for the unique gifts that you have.  We all have gifts, and we are all unique. 

Take time during this period to write down the things for which you should be grateful.  It may be useful to think of the areas of life which we identify in the Life Habit, and find something to be grateful for in each area of life.  Some examples could be:

  • Social: Be grateful for your friends and family, and most importantly your partner.  Gratitude is an extremely powerful force in any relationship.
  • Spiritual: If you are religious, be grateful to your creator, and build thanks into your prayers or meditation.  Even if you aren't religious, meditate and create a peaceful, aware state of mind.
  • Health: Give thanks for your health, and the food that you have to eat.  Not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to follow a rigid diet or eating regime, but there is still much to be grateful for.  If you can go for daily walks, enjoy the fact that you can do so, and enjoy the environment in which you walk or exercise.  One of the side benefits of a habit of gratitude is significant improvement in your state of mental health.  The concept of being grateful is becoming recognised as one of the key determinants of happiness. These are the habits of a healthy person.
  • Finance: If you are financially stable, you are in a better situation than the majority of people on earth.   If you are able to save, give thanks, and instill the savings habit in your children, friends and family.
  • Career: Few people are in their "ideal" careers.  But now is an ideal opportunity to change your thinking about this.  Be grateful that you have a job, and in doing so, you will perform better, and be recognised for it.  You could get better job opportunities which could lead to a move towards your perfect job.  Even more surprising, you may find that you'll enjoy your current job so much that you'll realise that it is in fact "your ideal job".
  • Personal growth:  The habit of gratitude, and daily meditation and reflection are key aspects of your personal growth.   Learning about yourself is a significant first step in acquiring new skills.
  • Recreation:  If you are having fun, you definitely have much to be grateful for.  It is also a self-fulfilling prophecy.  By being grateful for the things you do, chances are you'll end up having fun doing them.

 As you look for things to be grateful for, look to the past; those things that have happened: the "now", the immediate future and current experiences: and to the future with anticipation for things to come.   As Carl says:

Practicing gratitude daily is important because the intentions you hold for your day influence your day.

Focusing on the things for which we should be grateful has an additional benefit in that it prevents us from worrying about the future.

Build the gratitude habit into your daily routine.   It may be one of the most important positive habits that you develop.

View the authors website and additional thoughts on emotional time

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