I SOMETIMES get discouraged in this publishing business. Like any other business, it has its ups and downs, and sometimes my emotions go up and down with it. My wife, Klassy Evans, gave me a very simple suggestion awhile back that really helps. She said, "Whenever you feel discouraged, think of something you're grateful for."
I've done it many times now, and every time it is surprisingly easy to think of something I'm grateful for, and it makes me feel better every time.
I've read the studies on gratitude, but I've always thought of it as a project. It seems like work. I feel like I "should" sit down and write in a journal for a specified length of time, or try to write down a specified number of things I feel grateful for. That's how they do it in the experiments, but of course that's because it's an experiment. They have to test quantifiable, measurable tasks in an experiment. That doesn't mean I have to.
And as I found out, generating a little gratitude works well on the fly and in my head just as well as it does writing it down in a journal. It's not a chore at all — just a simple question to ask myself. It only takes a few moments (just long enough to think of something). And as soon as I think of something, I feel noticeably better.
I've found that if the first thing I think of doesn't raise my mood enough, I can easily ask myself what else I'm grateful for.
You and I naturally have our attention on our goals and what we'd like to attain in the future, and the mind naturally compares our goals to what we have now. It compares what we have with what we want to have. That's motivating sometimes, but it can also make you feel demoralized or frustrated.
It is equally legitimate — and ought to get equal billing — to think about what you have (compared to others or compared to your past), or what you have gained, or what you are just plain glad about.
Try it the next time you feel discouraged or frustrated. Ask yourself, "What one thing am I grateful for?" And see what happens. It's a simple, all-purpose moodraiser you can keep in your back pocket and use the hell out of.
When you do, you'll be happier.
Learn more about how comparisons alter how you feel: Change The Way You Feel By Changing One Simple Thing You Already Do In Your Mind.