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How Are You?

When someone asks you, “How are you?” how do you respond? For many years I would answer this question on auto-pilot. I was either “Fine,” “Busy,” or “Crazy-busy.” The phrase had simply become another way of saying hello. Once I became aware of my automatic response, I began to take the question more seriously. I committed to always considering how I felt and providing an authentic answer.

How Are You

So I pose this question to you, not by way of greeting, but rather to genuinely explore. “How are you?”

There is a lot going on in the world right now. We continue to face new and unique challenges that tax our well-being. Whether you are “Fine,” “OK,” “Busy,” or even “Great,” you probably would not mind being a little happier. After all the pursuit of happiness is an unalienable right. Right?

I am sure everyone’s path to happiness is different. I believe it starts with getting enough sleep, as I shared in a previous blog post. Today I’d like to share another simple technique that can significantly improve your happiness.

Practicing Gratitude

You’ve heard this one, right? I imagine so. Are you aware of the research behind it? It’s staggering. In his book Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier, Robert Emmons shares some mind-boggling research. People who maintain a gratitude journal are 25 percent happier than those who do not. They also sleep 30 minutes more per day and exercise 33 percent more. Practicing gratitude has to be the highest ROI (return on investment) activity for your well-being that’s out there.

My practice is straightforward and takes only 60 seconds per day. Each morning I start the day with a mindfulness practice. In that practice, the first thing I do is to think of at least three things I am grateful for. I haven’t even written them down in the past, but recently, based on this research, I’ve started to maintain a journal. That is helping me get more creative about what I’m grateful for and reduce the repeats.

Dive Into a Gratitude Infinity Pool

This daily practice has strengthened my gratitude muscle and makes it easier to take a “glass-half-full” perspective on life. When someone close to me does something that irritates me, I instinctively draw upon that reservoir of gratitude I have for that person, and it’s easier to get over my irritation and keep it in perspective.

I find myself naturally recognizing gratitude everywhere I look. I think about the “infinity pool” construct that apps like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram have that keep serving up a never-ending chain of things to keep you in the app, and I apply that concept to gratitude:

  • I am grateful that you are reading my blog.
  • I’m grateful that Microsoft has developed Word and Windows and all the technology that makes it easy to write and edit this blog.
  • I’m grateful to Grammarly for helping me be a better writer.
  • I’m grateful to the close friends who read and provide feedback on my blog entries before I publish them.
  • I’m grateful to LinkedIn for making it so easy to make this content available
  • …and so on…

Can you see how easy (and enjoyable) it can be to dive into a gratitude infinity pool?

Your Turn

I hope you will join me in practicing daily gratitude. Start simple. Each morning before you start your day, think of at least one thing you are grateful for. Consider expanding that list to two or three things over time and adding a journal where you write them down to reinforce them. Sixty seconds a day will be well worth the investment.

How I Am

If you’d like to know how I am, schedule time with me!

Want to comment? Join the conversation on LinkedIn.

P.S. I have one day left in the Love in Action Challenge, honoring the memory of my friend Jack Grubbs and raising money to help SHADE build a new cafeteria at their school. We are very close to our $15,000 goal. If you’d like to contribute, please visit my fundraising page. I’ll share more about this journey next week.