It’s all too easy to get caught-up in the day-to-day routine of life. High achieving students in particular embrace lives that are highly attention-oriented and schedule-driven. Their brains are typically always turned-on throughout the day, as learning, studying, and doing homework requires diligent focus.
In turn, students (as well as educators) can often lose sight of more meaningful aspects of life. Technology hasn’t been much help, either. As now more than ever, we are distracted by our phones, iPods, and laptops as easy outlets to plug-in and connect, all while checking-out from the world around us.
With the new year upon us and stress levels intensified, it’s the perfect time to start cultivating gratitude. In turn, we can experience our days through a different lens and lead more meaningful, enriched lives without needing to acquire new possessions or earn greater respect among our peers. To get the ball rolling, below we share a few powerful ways in which we can all achieve a more grateful state of being, not just during the holidays, but everyday moving forward.
Tony Robbins, one of America’s most popular and successful entrepreneurs, philanthropists and life coaches, shares a 10-minute “priming” routine that he does every morning. This routine is rooted in yoga and mindfulness meditation, but the underlying concept is simple: optimize your physical state.
"Whenever you want to make a change or improve something, the first place you want to prove it is in your mental, emotional state," Tony says. "If you do something from a pissed off state, from an exhausted state, from a frustrated state, from a weak state, it won't matter what you do. The thoughts are weak when you're in a weak place. The actions are weak."
In an article by Business Insider, Tony breaks down his priming routine along with other steps you can take to start your day. This includes: expressing gratitude, experiencing connection, and visualizing success. In a related conversation, Tony told Business Insider "The reason I picked gratitude is because when you're grateful you can't be angry. And when you're grateful you can't be fearful."
The ways in which you can “prime” yourself are limitless. However, the way to get there is consistently rooted to deep breathing, which can often stem from movement and exercise. Maybe for you it’s going for a nice run or lifting weights at the gym. Or perhaps you derive meaning from waking up extra early to attend a 6AM yoga class. Priming yourself can be creative expression that enables you to cultivate greater meaning and gratitude in your life. It’s the process to get there that might not be the most comfortable or easy path to take.
Journal, Meditate, & Practice Mindfulness
Journaling and meditation are two daily practices that are common amongst the most successful people. Both are highly-effective means to cultivate gratitude and lead a more meaningful day.
Fuazia Burke, author and founder of FSB Associates, shares her journaling routine with Huffington Post, along with other gratitude practices that shape her day.
“At the start of each day, I jot down what I am grateful for, even if it’s just a few things. If I don’t journal in the morning, I do so at night. Either way, I spend time each day writing gratitude entries in my journal or recalling my gratitude list in my head — plugging into what I am grateful for and starting my days on a positive note. To be honest, not every day is sunshine and roses, so on tough days I use my journal to vent, which also helps.”
Like journaling, the practice of meditation comes in many free-flowing forms. There’s mindfulness meditation, transcendental meditation, Buddhist meditation, and so on. But with all religious associations put aside, the core to meditation is the same. Through deep conscious breathing and detaching from an over-thinking mind, we can tap into a state of calmness, presence, and appreciation for our being. This is the essence mindfulness.
There are many definitions of mindfulness and how to achieve a more mindful state of being. In essence, think of mindfulness as a present-state awareness that enables you to be non-reactive. Through meditation, journaling, and practicing mindfulness, you might find that you react less, complain less, and more effectively fill your life with what’s truly important and valuable to you.
Try “No Screen Saturday”
It was successful entrepreneur and angel startup investor, Tim Ferriss, who suggested on his podcast to try “No Screen Saturday.” This practice of non-doing may seem rather difficult, or near impossible given your lifestyle, but it can have profound implications on how you view the world.
The idea of “No Screen Saturday” is that you take a break from the incessant stream of content and communication that flows from you phone, computer, or tablet. In turn, you experience the world around you in a more open and embracing manner. It’s likely you will appreciate little things in life that you might otherwise overlook, like the luminous morning fog intensified by the sunrise, the call to action to provide aid or assistance during a time of need, or the sincere eye contact of a good friend while sharing a conversation.
It’s the small and seemingly insignificant things that can culminate into a real sense of gratitude. So on Friday night, make a Facebook or Instagram post to announce tomorrow’s experiment, and test the waters with #NoScreenSaturday as means to help you cultivate gratitude and appreciate the human experience that surrounds you.
There’s no doubt it’s an excited time to be alive. But it is important for us to remember that we are in control of our lives and we can shape our perspective. Take ownership of your day and break the monotony of your daily routine by introducing novelty in fun, creative ways. Priming yourself in the morning, practicing mindfulness, and detaching from your devices, are just a few ways to help you experience more gratitude and thankfulness in your life.