If you had met me a couple of weeks ago I would have probably told you about my impending trip to India to deliver some training there. While you might have thought that sounded exciting I would have quickly reassured you that it REALLY wasn’t so.
For weeks all I could think about was the 15 hour flight to get there, the jet lag and the pretty demanding client I was going to be working for. I kept telling myself I shouldn’t have accepted the work.
It turns out I was dead wrong. My short trip was fantastic. The course went really well and my client was delighted. The hotel I stayed in was an experience in itself. They brought me a free glass of hot milk with Horlicks at night to help me sleep and even ironed my clothes for free! I tasted some of the best food I’ve ever tasted in my entire life and I got to watch some great movies on the way back home. Yes I was exhausted but the trip felt like a real triumph and I’m so glad I got to go.
This got me thinking about how easy it is to be distracted by what’s wrong instead of paying attention to what’s right. As humans we’re hard wired to look at what’s not working around us, and it is so easy to find fault with whatever we’re involved with, whether it’s a job, a relationship, a neighbourhood or a project. In doing so we end up ignoring the good stuff, or we take it for granted.
How sad is it that I wasted weeks worrying about India when I could have spent my time feeling excited about the adventure that awaited me. And knowing that I’m normally a naturally positive person, makes me think that all of us can fall into this trap, making us think that life is merely ‘meh’ while we’re ignoring all the things that make it great.
So I decided to be a little more mindful about the good stuff in my life and I did a couple of experiments.
The first was with the hubby-to-be. I got us a little notebook each and every night we wrote down 3 things we appreciated about what the other half had done that day.
It was an exercise in getting us to focus on the good stuff in our relationship and we were quickly reminded that there was a lot of it. This simple exercise helped us pay attention to all the little things we do for each other, from making cups of tea to a welcoming hug when one of us gets home.
It’s a great exercise and even though it only takes us a minute to do at night, it is having a fantastic effect. We feel more connected and happier together, even though we were already starting from a good place.
The second experiment was to start the day thinking about 3 things I was grateful for. Again it got me focusing on the good stuff in my life and cheered me up no end. There’s quite a bit of research that shows how expressing gratitude can make a person feel happier and it was nice to feel the effects for myself.
The experiment can be applied to any area of our lives whether it’s our job or our new business venture, our big dreams and projects, our friendships and even our abilities.
So if there’s a part of your life which feels a little ‘meh’ right now, try your own experiment. Find 3 things you appreciate in that part of your life every day for a week. I have a feeling that by the end of the experiment you’ll be feeling a lot better about it.
I’d love to hear how this worked for you. What changes did you notice?