I was recently asked to write a chapter for my good friend John Bardos’ ebook Change Your Life.
“Is there something specific that really helped put your life on a better path? Can you talk about a transformation that occurred because of one particular strategy? Is there something you do every day that is critical to your productivity?”
Rather than the typical personal development tips you hear, beyond practicing meditation and establishing a morning routine, my answer is the same one I give to people who ask how they can find more happiness in their lives. It’s incredibly simple advice, but requires great discipline to implement:
The secret to life is deceptively simple: choose carefully what you focus your attention on.
Namely, focus on the things you genuinely and deeply want more of. Look for what makes you happy.
Don’t obsess over the things that frustrate you. Don’t let anger, or resentment, become the center of attention.
Because as the saying goes, what you focus on grows. When I started to focus on cultivating an attitude of gratitude, my whole life transformed. And I find that when I consciously acknowledge the experiences, the people, and events I’m grateful and thankful for, somehow I tend to find more and more similar things that inspire gratitude.
Whereas, when I focus on my problems — when I go into emergency mode fighting fires and looking for every little detail of what is wrong with my work and family life — then I’ll find plenty of problems.
Seek, and you shall find. So seek the right things, and discipline your mind to search for opportunities rather than limitations.
I highly recommend any ambitious young person in the world today develop a regular gratitude practice as part of your daily rituals – write your answers in some kind of journal, or keep an ongoing note on your computer — but start the day with 3 things you’re thankful for, and end your day with 3 amazing things that happened for you. (If you have a hard time getting started, I recommend trying The Five Minute Journal: A Happier You in 5 Minutes a Day)
You’ll be surprised how quickly this daily practice can change your outlook, and even your circumstances.
Count your blessings, not your problems.
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