I’m writing from a hotel room in India. My last trip to India was September 2000 and I went back to read about that trip, a whacky board meeting in Mumbai.
To appreciate my good fortune, there is nothing as effective as a trip through Asia. My life in Boulder compares very favorably to the best that Asia has to offer. Time spent in China and India put the ‘hardships’ of the West into perspective. I am very fortunate.
On the flight over, I read Towards a Meaningful Life. Although I was raised Catholic, my kids are Jewish by birth and we’ve been discussing their spiritual and religious education. The book, written generally, covers the spiritual aspects of Judaism and was recommended as an introductory text. The book contains chapters about a father’s role and provided inspiration to improve my game!
Another source of recent inspiration has been James Altucher’s Blog. Somewhere in his archives was a mood management tip to create a gratitude list. On many levels, feelings of gratitude are good for me.
As a novice coach (2000), I used gratitude to help athletes improve their self-image. We’d get a small notebook and, each night, write three good things about the day. The idea was to start a habit of positive thinking. In addition to the nighttime technique, the athlete would add items across the day when she noticed that she was in a good mental state.
Of late, certain aspects of being a father were getting to me. Even when my daughter was behaving great, I wasn’t enjoying her. I realized that it was time to heal myself. So I created a Gordo Gratitude List in google.
Here’s what I’ve noticed:
Gratitude has a physical sensation – I experience a release around my heart when I feel grateful. It feels very similar to love.
Writing in my list leaves a mental marker for the experience of gratitude.
Returning to my list, lets me return to the physical sensation. Reading the words triggers a physical memory in my body.
The more I trigger the sensation, the more natural it becomes. Seems that gratitude is a free, pleasurable habit.
As you’ll see from my list, most of my triggers are simple items. One of my favorites is “almonds and cashews.” Since starting my list, I get a little hit from each nut. This gives me an incentive to eat more slowly – always a good thing!
If you tend towards pessimism (which you’ll tell yourself is merely realism) then a gratitude list can improve your life experience.
Cultivating gratitude at home is a lot easier to achieve than scheduling a trip through the Third World, which I also recommend.