Can you list 10 items you are grateful for?
Are you, in true winner style, beaming and bursting at the seams with appreciation for all the beauty your life is filled with? Are you thankful for certain things but still wish for more? Or are you finding it hard to think of even a few things to be pleased with?
The more you express gratitude, the more likely you are to live in a positive state of mind, be more optimistic, and attract more goodness into your life. But if you are the type of person who generally views any situation as “glass half empty”, and who finds it difficult to see the “silver lining” in bad experiences, there are ways to improve that outlook. Gratitude-giving is a practiced skill, and can certainly be mastered with time.
In his 2013 TED Talk “Want to be happy? Be grateful”, Benedictine monk David Steindl-Rast says,
“We tend to expect that being happy will make us feel grateful, but actually it’s the other way around. Gratitude is a choice.”
Making the choice to be grateful
How can we make the choice to be grateful, you might wonder? Simply by reminding ourselves of all the blessings in our lives. After his mission in Africa, Steindl-Rast was so thankful for his water faucet because it was something so rare where he had been. He even put a sticker on it to remind himself of how fantastic this invention is, as over time it started to seem common to him again.
In my eyes, gratitude is the number one quality of people who live happy, accomplished lives. The world can be a daunting and intimidating place sometimes, but it’s all a matter of perspective. You are the one who ultimately chooses what you want to focus on. The opportunities, ideas, inspiration, love and beauty in the world – or problems, obstacles, lack, inabilities and injustice. If you fall down and scrape your knee, are you angry and frustrated that it happened? Or are you grateful that it wasn’t anything worse?
The 90/10 Rule
You can be in control of how you perceive situations when they happen, especially to you. Stephen Covey popularized the idea of the 90/10 Principle in his best-selling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People where he suggests that 10% of life is made up of what happens to you, and 90% is how you react to that which occurs. He poses the idea that what sets humans apart from animals is self-awareness and the ability to choose how we respond to environmental and circumstantial stimuli. He states that we do not have to be affected by internal or external conditioning. And that we alone have the power to decide how we respond to any given situation.
I strongly believe in the 90/10 rule. If you choose to react to any circumstance with a positive mindset, then you make your own luck, and leave very little to chance. If you allow your mind to feel sad and sorry for yourself, that is no one else’s fault but your own. You have to learn to change your mindset from complaining to praising, from moping to rejoicing, from self-pitying to self-congratulating, and from jealousy to admiration.
Be a “glass-half-full” person
I want to leave you with a quote to ponder and keep as a reminder that gratitude is an essential part of your winning mindset. It was my final answer in the 2005 Miss Universe pageant, which helped me claim the title, to the question, “what is the biggest challenge in your life?”
“The biggest challenge in my life is always trying to think positively. I consider myself the kind of person who sees the world as ‘glass half full’, instead of ‘half empty’. And even though, sometimes in difficult times, it’s hard to look at life this way, I always try to maintain the positive side in life.”
Yes, it can be a challenge to always keep a smile on your face and peace in your heart, but you should never stop trying to do that in spite of the difficulties you may be facing.
“Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.”
Read the winner stories from the winners featured in my book “I AM WINNING”.