Alright, I know, you’re probably sick of hearing the word gratitude. It’s everywhere and starts losing its meaning. But before you give up, let’s take a step back. What is gratitude? It’s being happy and excited for the things you have. It’s taking the most ordinary things and making them feel like magic. It’s about changing your mindset. For example, you have a choice to be grateful for the water that instantly comes out of your faucet, your car that takes you from A to B or being able to buy whatever food you need from a grocery store. These all might seem like mundane things, but what if they were taken away from you? Is that the only time you would appreciate them? Well, that sucks because you’re missing out on some major joy.
If you look at some of the most renowned books like As a Man Thinketh by James Allen, Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill, and even A Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, what do you notice these books have in common? Answer: Mindset. However, a mindset shift isn’t an overnight thing. It takes practice, perseverance and tools to be sustainable. If Vicktor Frankl can find purpose and meaning by changing his mindset while he’s in a concentration camp, you don’t really have an excuse.
So how do you change your mindset? How do you get it to stick? Gratitude. Gratitude is the smallest and most effective thing you can do to change your mind. In this post i’ll go over the gratitude vs scarcity mentality and a practice that works for me.
My First Dance with Gratitude
It was the end of my trip to India and I was heading to the New Delhi airport from another city a couple hours away. I had my window down and was taking everything in. The farmland, the animals, the trees and the people. In the last hour of our drive, the air suddenly became thick and heavy. My eyes started burning, my throat felt weird, and I let out a cough. WTF? Were we driving by a fire? I didn’t see anything. I quickly rolled up my window. I made a comment about the air to the driver and he explained, “We’re heading into New Delhi and they have the worst air pollution. It’s like this all the time.” Say what?? Wow! Apparently breathing the air in New Delhi is the same as smoking 44 cigarettes a day. Insane. New Delhi has a population of 21.75 million people and this is a day to day reality for the people that live there.
How many of us take our clean air for granted? How many of us acknowledge how lucky we are when we take a deep breath of fresh and clean air? How many of us have thanked the trees for producing oxygen and gravity for keeping it here? How many of us have thanked the government agencies and environmentalists that fight to protect our air? Well, after my trip to New Delhi, I definitely had a new appreciation for the air I breathe. Like damn, I couldn’t even imagine living in New Delhi. The slightest pollution makes my head hurt. However, I will admit, this appreciation lasted for a week or two and I forgot about it. Fast forward, the 2020 California fires happened. Here I was living the reality of terrible air pollution for 2 months. I suddenly missed the days when I could step out for my walk and my head wouldn’t hurt. I laughed at myself for not thinking anything of the AQI being 15 I saw on my watch all these years. Once my air was taken away from me and I suddenly longed for it. When they fires were gone, I literally danced when the AQI went to 30. This also happened to be around the time when I started practicing gratitude and I thanked the air daily when it was back. This time, however, my gratitude didn’t fall off because it was consistent. At least a couple of times a week when I take a deep breath, I say “thank you thank you thank for this beautiful clean air.” We’re so lucky.
Ponder This: “Whoever has gratitude will be given more, and they will have an abundance.
Whoever does not have gratitude, even what they have will be taken from them.“ – Rhonda Byrne
What does this quote mean to you?
I love this quote because it says, you can have it all (I.e. millionaire, dream job, great group of friends etc.), but if you’re sitting there focusing on what you don’t have, you will feel like you have nothing. However, if you’re grateful for what you have, no matter how big or small (I.e. warm bed, sunsets, food on your table), you have it ALL because you have the gift of realizing what you have. Think about it, the United States has one of the highest rates of depression, yet we’re a first world country. How can this be? We have access to a lot of things people in third world countries don’t have access to, but yet we’re still unhappy. You see people in third world countries with just their basic needs met and they are happier than us. So, if it’s not about stuff, what is it?
What a Scarcity Mindset Does to You
If you’re not grateful for what you have, no matter how big or small it is, then what’s the alternative? The alternative is thinking of all the things you don’t have. This is called a scarcity mindset. With a scarcity mindset, you take this for granted. You sit there focusing on what so and so has and how you don’t have it. You’re so focused on what you don’t have that the things you do have don’t even matter. What’s worse? Suddenly when something you took for granted is gone, you jump into victim mode and go down a rabbit hole of feeling sorry for yourself, creating more scarcity. For example, say you wanted X for Christmas (fill in the blank) and you didn’t get. Instead, you got 10 other gifts on your list. The scarcity mentality person would sit there focusing on the gift they didn’t get. They can’t even help it because they’re so used to thinking of what they don’t have. The 10 other gifts even got the joy sucked out of them.
What does a scarcity mentality eventually do to you? Your confidence would go down the drain, you’d sit there comparing yourself to other people, you wouldn’t appreciate your health, you would take your friends and family for granted, you would develop a negative attitude, and you’d basically be the person who could never be happy. I’m telling you, no one wants to hang out with that person. No one wants to date this person. No one wants to marry this person. They drain your energy. If you have people like that in your life, they’re bringing you down. I’ve become so distant from all the complain-y people I used to have in my life. Misery loves company, right? I think i’ll take my joy elsewhere.
Being ungrateful is terrible for your relationships too. Think about it, if you’re so focused on scarcity, you’d pick fights with people you love because you’re so focused on what they can’t give you. You’d be so busy trying to change people and not appreciate who they are. Every little thing that person does would annoy you. You would sabotage your relationships and never make any deep connections. Instead, imagine focusing on how much joy that person brings into your life? All the good things they do. What you love about them. How much would your relationship change once expectations went out the door? Think about it: your friendships, your relationship, your work relationships and your interactions with your family would completely change. This would result in having a clearer head to express any behavior of theirs that makes you feel sad (vs lashing out).
Exercise: Think of a friend that sometimes annoys you (we all have one). Okay, got them in your head? You might feel the annoyance come up, it’s okay. Now pause. Think of 5 things you love about this person. It might take a while to think of these things and that’s okay. Is it their loyalty? Creativity? Sense of adventure? Humor? Say the 5 good things out loud or in your head. Now, feel the good things they bring into your life and friendship. Sit with it. Do you suddenly appreciate them a little bit more? Magic.
FOMO and Social Media
I was personally called out for taking things for granted. I deserved the call out. This call out also changed my life. It seemed like I was never satisfied. I was always chasing new experiences, people, material things and dopamine hits wherever I could find them. I was chasing and chasing to the point where if I missed out on something, the jealousy monster would come out. Why didn’t I get invited to such and such place? They hung out without me? Everyone is having fun except for me! This turned into me feeling like I was always missing out on stuff. It was exhausting! Where did all these emotions come from? This is not me! I’m usually so happy for people. It got to the point where I could be having a great time, then I see a photo of someone having a great time in Hawaii and there goes my joy. Why wasn’t I in Hawaii?? Mind you, this happened to me while I was on vacation in a different place! Jeez Louise! Don’t you just want to shake me? But how many of us can relate to this? This is the problem with comparison, which has been made worse by social media. You start comparing your life to others every time you hop on. We’re not meant to know what this many people are doing with their lives at a given time. This is SO dangerous to your mental health and any gratitude you naturally had is out the door in seconds. Social media creates scarcity. Comparing yourself to others creates scarcity. Not appreciating the present moment, no matter where you are or what you are doing, creates scarcity.
Just imagine how unhealthy this lack of appreciation is and what it can snowball into. Imagine how exhausting it is to keep chasing and chasing, but never being satisfied. Well, this is what we’re doing to ourselves when we don’t appreciate what we have. We chase and chase and chase and never take a moment to stop and smell the roses. Instead of sitting there wanting to be in Hawaii, what if I looked around and appreciated my surroundings? The beautiful Autumn day I got to spend watching the leaves turn colors. The river that I could watch for hours. The people I was with. Look, days go by once in a lifetime, meaning once they day is gone, it’s never coming back ever again (thanks time). Why are we wasting any day, let alone any moment, wishing we were somewhere or someone else? Thank the day you had because it was yours.
If you don’t set up mental boundaries , social media will create great scarcity in your mind. Instead of just consuming, create. Create art. Create music. Create writing. Creation is an excellent way to counter scarcity and FOMO.
What Scarcity Looks like Day to Day
So, how do you know if you take things for granted? If any of the emotions below apply to you, it’s saying something. It’s not a big deal and don’t be hard on yourself, it’s just information to know what you need to work on. Thank yourself for recognizing them and accept them. Acceptance is the first step to change.
The Signs of Ungratefulness:
– FOMO (fear of missing out)
– Scarcity mentality
– Always chasing the next best thing
– Unable to receive (love, appreciation, compliments etc.)
– Living a fast-paced life
– Feeling like everyone is having fun except you
– Being wayyy too in your head
– Feeling like you’re living on autopilot
– Feeling like time is flying
– Feeling like you’re spending life lost in thought
– Always feeling annoyed
– Expecting negative things to happen to you
– Not being able to see the lesson in the mistake
– Not accepting why something happen to your benefit
– Anger/lashing out
– High expectations of everything and everyone
– Focusing on what you don’t have
– Filling voids with material objects
– Feeling the desire to numb yourself constantly (i.e. drugs, alcohol, distractions etc)
– Always pointing out flaws in experiences, things or people
– Being dismissed by others for being “negative Nancy”
– Feeling the need to run away from “everything”
If a specific point stood out to you, focus on that area.
Alright, now it’s time for the solution…
The Attitude of GRATITUDE!
The smallest step you can take to have a mindset of abundance is gratitude. Make this a DAILY practice, otherwise, you’ll fall off. This is supposed to be fun, I promise. You will notice a change in your mindset in one day, you want to keep building on this until it’s a habit.
There is some SERIOUS magic to gratitude once you learn how to do it the right way. Yes, I said it, there is a right way to feel gratitude. And if this practice keeps falling off for you, it’s because you’re not doing it right. You’re not feeling it. You’re not swimming in it. You’re not basking in it.
So what is “the right” way to show gratitude you ask?
#1 Don’t go for low hanging fruit
My friend Janet gave me the best gratitude tip – go for something so dear and personal to you. It could be your shoes that let you walk 5 miles without hurting your feet. It could be your favorite pair of silky smooth PJs that make you feel like a goddess. It could be a certain friend that never judges you. It could be your morning cup of single origin coffee. It could be your growth mindset. It could be that you discovered a new brewery that specializes in sour beers. I don’t care how small or silly it may seem, all that matters is it means something to YOU.
Don’t fall into the autopilot trap of “my friends, my family, my health…” yes, these things are super important, but guess what? They get boring to repeat over and over everyday. It gets to the point where you don’t even feel anything once you say them. Of course you can say “friends, family and health”, but say which friend, which family member, which body part. I want you to really feel the gratitude. And don’t you dare feel guilty for picking something materialistic. It’s totally okay! The point is to spark joy and maybe your new sweater does the trick! Own it! Thank you cashmere sweater for being so soft and cozy!
#2 Say WHY you’re grateful for it
Saying and really feeling “the why” is SO important. Imagine saying, “I’m grateful for my eyes” *crickets*. Now imagine saying, “I’m grateful for my eyes because they let me see my favorite flowers during my morning walk. The pinks, blues and yellows make me so damn happy.” Oh yeah, feel that gratitude. See the difference? Next, bask in the why. This is when I put my hands in prayer and say “thank you thank you thank you thank you” (say it however many times you need to). You can literally feel your brain changing as you say thank you. Think of the flowers, the trees and all the colors your eyes see. Here’s another example: “I’m so grateful for my hot shower every morning because I can just turn on the tap and I get this beautiful warm water flowing all over me. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you to the beautiful pipes that carry the water. Thank you to my water heater.” Thank whoever and whatever you want. When you’re in the shower, feel the water. Be present. Appreciate it. Can we say dopamine hit?
Tip: Being present while you’re in shower makes time go by slower. When your mind is lost in thought, time is flies! This goes for everything you do. If life feels like it’s going too fast, you’re not in the moment often enough. Think of the Mr. Rogers’ 1 minute of silence – turn on your timer and just sit there for one minute fully present. Feels like an eternity, right? But wondering why 1 minute in your shower feels like 10 seconds? You’re in your head too much.
#3 Be Grateful for things you don’t even have yet
Want to start a business? Want to find your soul mate? Want to buy your dream house? Cool, say thank you in advance! The beauty of gratitude is you can plan out your future and say thank you for things yet to come. The beauty of this part is your mind starts seeing opportunities to get you closer to what you want in your life. Don’t worry too much about the “how” in the moment, those will come right at you. The simple act of writing something down (I.e. your goals) is SO powerful because you’re more likely to accomplish them. You’ll start seeing signs, meeting the right people, getting recommendations, noticing certain things more, have opportunities pop up and see through the lines. For example, if you’re grateful for the new home you will buy this year, you’ll start second guessing impulse shopping so you save more towards your downpayment or you’ll might even notice a side gig to get you more cash. The mind works like magic once you let it.
Ponder this: Did you know only 3% of Americans write down their goals? AND only 1% review and rewrite their goals? WTF?!
Tip: In the “Awakening” post I had a journaling prompt of how you want your ideal life to look like, use those points in your “things you want” gratitude practice. Look at them often. The more you look, the more you will be reminded of what you want. Read them often to steer your mind in the right directions. It feels so good to read them and see the magic unfold.
#4 Have a dedicated journal for your gratitude
I have a journal dedicated to gratitude. In it, I write down 10 things every morning of what i’m grateful for and why. After I write it down, I re-read the points and say “thank you thank you thank you thank you” and really feel the gratitude. This makes me so happy and excited. Even if I wake up grumpy, it shifts my mind. I’ll even do fun exercises like writing my top desires and feel gratitude for them. I love my gratitude journal! It’s a written vision board.
Here are some examples of my gratitude journaling to help get you started:
I am grateful for my friend April because I feel like I can open up to her about everything and anything. She makes space, listens and offers the perfect wisdom. I’m so grateful we’ve grown closer this past year.
I am grateful for my morning coffee because it wakes me right up and helps me get energized for my day. Whoever came up with the idea of coffee, thank you thank you thank you, you’re the real MVP!
I am grateful for my ability to change and grow because I know not everyone has the capacity to be like this. Thank you to myself for understanding my discomfort is telling me I need change. Thank you for my self-awareness!
I am grateful for water because water is life. I love drinking it, looking at it, bathing in it and swimming in it. I’m so happy I can live near water and get fresh water out of my taps whenever I need it. Thank you rain, thank you snow, thank you bodies of water!
I am grateful that the universe will give me my dream salary. I am open to receiving all the signs and opportunities that come my way. I trust following my passion will get me there. Thank you in advance!
If you still need helping cozying up to your gratitude practice, I HIGHLY recommend The Magic by Rhonda Bryne. The way I came across this book is a fun story in itself. I was hopping on a call with my friends Alex & Mariah and the first thing I blurted out was “ladies, I need to figure out a gratitude practice that works for me. I know I need one, but nothing is really sticking.” Right then Alex said, “Omg, I have the perfect a book for you!” and recommended The Magic. I’m so glad I asked for what I needed and my friend had the perfect recommendation. Note: I have a choice to say this is a coincidence OR I can call it freakin’ magic – magic is so much cooler.
The Magic by Rhonda Bryne is a great way to get your gratitude practice off the ground. Now, if “The Secret” brand throws you off, I would suggest to look past that part. This book has been awesome in terms of figuring out how to have fun with gratitude. The book takes you through a 28 day gratitude practice, each day offers a different practice. It has honestly helped me develop a sustainable gratitude practice. Keep the parts you love after the 28 days and ditch the ones you didn’t. It’s all about trying it and see what sticks.
Dedicate a journal to your gratitude. Everyday, write down 10 things you are grateful and why.
Have fun with it. Be grateful for what you have and what you need in your life. Feel gratitude for each thing you write down. Read it. Close your eyes. Say thank you! I put my hands in prayer and put them on my third eye (middle forehead). It helps me focus on the gratitude.
Next time you sit down for dinner, offer thanks to all the people that made it possible to have dinner on the table. Think about the plants, sun, water, farmers, truck drivers and grocery store staff. It’s pretty awesome how lucky we are once we see it. Share this practice with your family, it’s great table talk!