Anthony’s Note: This is a guest post from Karl Staib, author of Bring Gratitude.
Last summer I was at lunch with a friend. I fell back into an old habit.
My friend went to the bathroom and I did what I always do. I pulled out my phone.
I already had Amazon open and I was flipping through some of the books I was interested in buying. Then I saw the book I wanted was $2 cheaper than last week. Tap and it was on its way. I got my little dopamine rush just before my friend came back to the table.
He sat down and I put my phone down. Just like that, I was $12.76 lighter and a proud owner of a new book. It was a book I wanted, but I have a queue of 6 books waiting for me: 2 on my phone and 4 on my nightstand.
Have you done this before?
It’s so easy to buy something now. We don’t take the time to really make sure we truly want it. I’m guilty of doing this way too often. I realized that I wasn’t enjoying what I had in my life. I had been distracting myself instead of appreciating the things I did have.
I decided to make some changes.
The key to eliminating this bad habit for me was learning to appreciate what I did have instead of wanting more. The ability to tap into gratitude when you notice yourself going to your phone for a pick-me-up is so important. You are making time to pause and not be reactive.
When you pause and feel grateful before you act, you will create positive emotions that will help you make smarter choices.
How you manage your feelings directly affects how successful you are at dealing with your life. You can start by understanding the stories that are going on in your head. Do you say to yourself, “I need to hop on my phone real quick to check my email?”
You don’t need to hop on your phone. You “want” to hop on your phone. You have options.
Instead of hopping on my phone while my friend went to the bathroom, I could have enjoyed the moment around me. The nice interaction between the man who ordered a sandwich and the woman who complimented him on his choice and the dark brown jacket he was wearing. I think she was flirting with him. I was only halfway paying attention. I took multiple sips of my drink and I couldn’t really remember a single one.
Each choice we make in a situation helps us build habits. Good and bad. It’s up to us to build habits that support our health and happiness.
We can start by doing little things to help us improve our habits.
It’s OK to pick up your phone and play a game or jot down a note, but absent-mindedly making these choices will not help you in the long run. In my case, it led to the purchase of a book that I didn’t have time to read. We need to be aware of our personal goals and values and build habits that help support our growth.
That’s why I lean on my gratitude journal. I am far from perfect, but my gratitude journal always brings me back to center. This routine has helped me reduce the need to purchase things that I don’t want.
When I work with a client, I suggest that they keep a gratitude journal to help build a more resilient and happier mindset. Go ahead – start your own gratitude journal and see how it can help you.
Just write what you are grateful for and why you are grateful for it every day for 30 days. I suggest something like this:
- I’m grateful for my bed because I slept well last night.
- I’m grateful for a delicious burger because it truly hit the spot and made me feel satisfied.
- I’m grateful that my dog encourages me to take a walk each night because it helps me process my day.
The “why” is important because it helps deepen the gratitude journal experience. Within a few days, you will begin to see improvement in your outlook.
If you are interested, join our free 30-Day Bring Gratitude Challenge running March 1st thru 30th. It’ll help strengthen your mindset. Come join us and you’ll get email updates and a private Facebook group. If you have any questions, I’ll be available 7 days a week during this time. My goal is to get the smartest and most caring people together to create an amazing community, so we can help each other learn from our mistakes and build a life that we love.