It’s so easy to get “lost” while chasing our goals.
To start neglecting everything around us, eventually, sacrificing it for the one thing we crave so badly.
The success we believe will finally fulfill us.
Now, if you’ve ever stuck to this approach long enough, reaching the objective that was going to provide for endless fulfillment, then you know how mistaken you were.
There was no endless fulfillment, no peace of mind, no joy.
For some of you, if not most, there probably was a feeling of emptiness. Like this sacrifice was all for nothing.
I’ve been there myself and while going through it I must admit that my life suffered from all of the above, leaving me in the worst state I’ve ever been.
Of course, that is all in the past and I was able to reach the other side as a stronger, healthier person. Both mentally and physically.
With that in mind…
Where does gratitude fit into all of this?
Gratitude, for me, is the antidote for the “I’ll be happy when I achieve it” mindset.
Gratitude is what forces us to, like the word says, be grateful for what we already have. To know that there is more we want to achieve, but simultaneously, that we can also enjoy our daily life on the way there.
“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing.” — Seneca
At the end of the day, the moments of glory, the ones when we can say “I did it!” are few and far in between.
Most of life is spent on the way to those moments, on improving our habits, analyzing our mistakes, failing and trying again. Here, is where we must find our happiness, and even more importantly, our meaning and fulfillment.
When we are able to take our eyes from the top of the mountain and focus them on the next step ahead, to do it as best as we can, not because it will bring us closer to our goal but for the pure sake of the task itself.
“To extract some simple pleasure from the execution of a task well done.”
Then, I truly believe, we will start to see what life really has to offer.
The things that are easy to forget when we don't make an effort to remember, the ones that, only once taken from us, do we start regretting not valuing more when we had them.
You know what I’m talking about, a nice lunch surrounded by your family, a pleasant evening reading, the smile of the one you love in the morning, and above all of those, the joy of being alive.
Those are all things that, for the most part, we can enjoy in our lives right now, but so often we forget to do so. To really be there in those moments, knowing that they won’t happen forever, but while they do, we choose to appreciate them.
With that in mind…
How do we start practicing this gratitude?
Like all things we want to make a habit out of — Slow and steady.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to implement 3 new habits at a time, all with max intensity, to see the most results in the shortest amount of time.
I strongly believe that is the wrong approach for pretty much anything, but especially here, where the focus is on enjoying what we have.
That being said, there is 1 crucial habit that I suggest you implement in your life.
Journaling For Gratitude
All you need for this is a piece of paper and a pen.
Once you have those, write at the top of the page:
“3 Thing I’m Grateful For Right Now”
Make sure these are things that you can enjoy at this very moment, for example, your coffee, the sun outside, the comfort of your chair, etc.
What this will do is shift your focus from all the things you are missing, to all the ones you already have. The ones you forgot to enjoy in the past.
Once you have these, write the following headline:
“3 Thing I’m Grateful For In My Life”
These should be broader and focused on things that you value above all in your life, for example, your parents, your sibling, your girlfriend/boyfriend, etc.
You know if they suddenly disappeared, you would have a hard time dealing with it.
They are what matters.
And the reason they matter, above many other reasons, is because we know, that one day, they will be gone from our life.
There is a set amount of days we have to share with them, which may be a lot right now, but eventually, they will end.
And when they do so, will we be able to say to ourselves “I’m sad, but I really made the time spent with them worth it. I have no regrets.”, or, will we realize that we were delaying something that now, not only cannot be delayed but also, has no possible solution but to come to terms with the regret we feel.
And if this sounds too serious and depressing, well, that’s because it will be if we do nothing about it.
“Death smiles at us all, but all a man can do is smile back”
Make sure you do it in time.
One More Thing…
If you would like to set your morning routine according to Marcus Aurelius, I have created something for you…
It is called “Marcus Aurelius Morning Routine”.
I took 4 practices that the emperor would have approved of (by following his texts) and how you can best apply them to your life!