Gary's story - The Network of Gratitude
"I would laugh at first, thinking everyone has those things, everyone has health, everyone has a house. But then it started to really hit me that no, not everybody has that, that's not the case."
I was not in a great space. And, at least for me when I get really depressed, nothing is great. The weather, my family, my friends, my career, the food, everything is not great.
And I even went to a therapist, and it didn't really seem like that helped me either. Getting to the root cause still made me sad. And so one day I was on YouTube and I heard Tony Robbins say, "You have to be grateful."
And I was like, What is gratitude? Who cares about gratitude? And he just basically said to write one thing down, and it was specifically in the morning. In the morning, when you did it, it changes your perception for the entire day.
And I've learned over time that what happens in the first 20-30 minutes of your day sets the tone for your entire day. And I was always thinking negative thoughts. I was always looking on social media first thing in the morning, and I started changing all that.
I just started writing gratitude. It was super simple stuff. At first, I wrote: I'm grateful for the fact that my house has heated, I'm grateful for the fact that I woke up, that's how bare-bones my gratitude was, I'm grateful that I have hands.
I couldn't even grasp the concept of how much good there was around me, I just had to look at the very basic. But over time, I started noticing everything, and when I started writing it, I would often look at it the next morning.
I would laugh at first, thinking everyone has those things, everyone has health, everyone has a house. But then it started to really hit me that no, not everybody has that, that's not the case.
There are people who don't have houses or people who don't have health. And I figured that well, at the very least, even if there were other problems in my life, I had these things and that was something to be grateful for.
And, now I can go on for days, I have to stop myself actually. And it's the best, by far the best thing that I may have done in the last three years. I truly think it saved my life. I truly, truly believe that.
And besides writing it, I started to take that out, and not just keep it in my phone. But I started to write little notes and messages to people I cared about, like my wife, for example, "I'm grateful for you".
And, it's surprising, people don't hear that often. Like, I'm grateful for you. You might not be here next week so I'm just going to say, I love you. It became the seed for so many things. I thought people would laugh at first, but no one did, everyone was very pleased and happy.
And it started as a network effect. I talked to people about gratitude. And, everybody had something to share, and my practice ended up becoming someone else's practice.
It didn't necessarily take away the bad things that were happening in your life, not by any stretch, it just gave you something else to combat the bad things.
It certainly helped me to look at all the bad things and be like, alright, well, that's one major bad thing that's happening right now, but there are hundreds of things that I could be grateful for, and those hundreds of things not everybody has.
I thought that perspective was really interesting. And one of the things I learned was that in Roman times when there were big parades, or they made major expansions, I heard the story that Julius Caesar would have someone behind him, whispering in his ear, "You're just a man."
And this idea of humility and gratitude started to stack. Gratitude drove humility, and humility helped me be more grateful.
And when I stopped looking at me, and just being grateful for all the things that are happening, I was like, "Okay, well, you know, maybe what I could do is be grateful enough."
And I'm so grateful that I want you to be grateful, too. So maybe I can start offering my advice, maybe I can start offering a lending hand, all of these things started to get me focused off of me, oddly enough, and that helped me become a less crappy person, you know?
If you'd like to share your own story, send an email over at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "My Gratitude Story". See ya!