Gratitude

Oh it's been such a bad day. I'm sitting here on the train, looking back at all the things I wish I'd done differently. Stewing over things that just didn't go my way. Wondering why some people act the way they do.

Sound familiar?

I'm sure it does. I'm happy though, happy because I know this feeling isn't going to last much longer. It's fleeting, because I haven't had my 'grateful thoughts' yet.

Grateful thoughts? What is this hippy talking about?

Well, whenever I'm feeling low, or in one of those dark ruts that we all find ourselves in from time to time, I simply look back on something that I grateful for. In fact, I have an Omnifocus task that repeats daily, prompting me to enter three things that I am grateful for into Day One, my journaling app of choice.

So, what are my grateful thoughts for today? Well, I'm sitting here typing this on a nice MacBook Pro. Yes, that's a material thing, but I'm still grateful for it. It's in lovely condition, I look after it and I know that I am privileged in being able to own one. I'm grateful for that.

I'm also heading home, which I am grateful for. I have a nice house, I don't mind admitting it because I have worked very hard for it. So many people would love to be able to say that. Well, I can, and I'm grateful for that.

I'm grateful that I have been given the strength and patience to deal with issues that would prove too much for other people. I have had a disc removed in my back and another is herniated at the moment, which causes me chronic pain, yet I'm grateful for the family I have that supports me through the difficult times, that helped me through my operation, for the hospital staff that cared for me. I'm grateful.

We take so many things for granted. Working in the city of London is an exercise in gratitude. When I receive my coffee in Starbucks, I express my gratitude by simply thanking the barista by name for my drink. Each time I do this, you can see the happiness and, I'm sad to say, the surprise, on their face. Too many people find themselves too busy to express this common display of gratitude, yet I find the fact I have made somebody happier than before I met them - well - uplifting I guess is the most accurate word.

I'm grateful for so many things and taking the time to recognise this is one of the most important parts of my day. I look forward to it.

And I'm grateful for that.

My Thoughts on Regret

There are so many things that each of us can look back with more than a tinge of sorrow. It could be the high school sweetheart that slipped through your fingers. It could be the conversation with a loved one that didn't turn out the way you would have hoped. What about the job opportunity you missed out on, or those words you shouted out in the heat of the moment that haunt you to this very day. Maybe you didn't get to give someone that special message before they departed.

Regret is all around us.

It's a negative emotional state. We blame ourselves for outcomes that didn't go our way and feel a sense of sorrow, or loss, for something that might have been. We can tear ourselves up wishing that we could undo a decision we have previously made.

In the cold light of day, does any of that make sense? We lose out on things that might have been every minute of every day, with each decision that we make. Cause and effect, or causality, is the relation between between one process and another, where the former is understood to be partly responsible for the latter. Our lives and paths are organic, being changed with every decision and action that is made. To rue past mistakes is an exercise in futility as we can't turn back around, re-trace our steps and make a different choice. We have to face the path that is now ahead of us and take the most sensible action we can. My favourite band, The Flaming Lips wrote a great song entitled All We Have Is Now and the title resonates with me because it's so true. The past is gone and the future is yet to come. All we have is...now.

That is not to say that regret can be an exclusively negative emotional state. If you can leverage these feelings into ensuring you refocus and take corrective action down your new path, then it can be embraced. You have to see it for what it is though - a window into something that you have relinquished control over.

Remember - every day is like being reborn. You have a new day, with new opportunities and decisions to make. What you do today is what matters most.

My Mantra Sheet in Evernote

I'm a morning guy and one of the things I try to stick to, more than anything in my day, is a powerful morning routine. Now, being a human being, this doesn't always go according to plan. Sleep patterns can vary for any number of reasons when you're a father! However even if I oversleep and find myself struggling to squeeze the time in for my morning routine, there is one action that I carry out regardless, because it is so quick and easy to do.

Over the course of my daily reading, I look for inspirational quotes and record them in Evernote. These can be from self-improvement books, web articles, sometimes even conversations I have with people as I go about my daily business. All of them are recorded in an Evernote I have named "My Mantras. I like to think of this as a list of qualities or values that I would like to live my life by. Examples include:

You achieve greatness by becoming the highest and best version of yourself every single day - From The 5AM Miracle by Jeff Sanders

If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants - Isaac Newton

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit - Aristotle

Vision is not enough, it must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps, you must step up the stairs - Vaclav Havel

With this note in Evernote, I need a way of being able to get to it quickly. There has to be a trigger that encourages me to look for it, which for me is OmniFocus. I have a Morning Routine project which outlines the steps I need to follow and Read My Mantras is the closing part of the process. In the Notes section of the action, I have a direct link to the My Mantra Sheet in Evernote, saving me from browsing for the note itself within the Evernote application. I can just use the one application as a central hub, which is the simplified way I like to work.

Adding the link is easy and I covered this in a separate post last year. Check it out.