Are you the kind of entrepreneur who wakes up every day and anticipates problems? Do you check your phone first thing to see what emergency needs your immediate attention? Many might say that’s a good trait to have. After all, solving problems is critical to entrepreneurial success.
But, what happens when your focus is so intent on problems, so routine in searching them out to fix that you become really good at looking for, finding and solving them? There is a saying: what you focus on expands. It means, whatever you put your attention on, you get more of. The focus on problems begets more problems!
I don’t suggest you stop solving problems or try to be bad at dealing with them. But, consider this. In Daniel Coyle’s book, The Talent Code, he talks about habits, what they do to our brains and their effects on our lives. Very little of what we achieve is by accident -- it is by repetition. Make a habit out of something, and see yourself succeed in that something because you keep doing it. It’s the same way with problem-finding. You’ll be really good at that, too.
A great way to counteract this -- and add some other benefits to your life -- is to make gratitude and optimism a habit. If you’re always looking for the bad, you could be missing out on what’s good. What are the good things in your life that you are grateful for? What goals do you want to achieve today? Who are the people in your life that you need to reach out to?
Start adding gratitude as a new habit into your daily routine, so that you can attract positivity, create some wins and build your confidence -- all while building and growing your business towards success.
Practicing gratitude enhances your happiness
The biggest benefit to gratitude is what it does for your overall happiness. There are plenty of studies that show the direct correlation between happiness and success. But, what is happiness and how do you achieve it?
"Use your signature strengths and virtues in the service of something much larger than you are." – Martin Seligman
Martin Seligman, who is considered to be the father of positive psychology, spent his career researching how and why people are happy. His studies concluded that there are three dimensions of happiness that can be cultivated: the Pleasant Life, the Good Life and the Meaningful Life.
In the first stage, humans live in the Pleasant Life through basic and often tiny pleasures that may increase happiness, but do not last very long. This can be indulging in chocolate or retail therapy.
In the Good Life, we humans engage our unique strengths and talents to creatively enhance our lives. This could be exhibited through your work and getting paid for it or playing sports with your children. The joy here may not be euphoric, but the experience helps you feel present and fulfilled within the moment.
The last stage, the Meaningful Life, is where we find true happiness. Modern theories of self-esteem say that life is truly fulfilling when we discover the value within ourselves by contributing to the happiness of our fellow humans. Essentially, doing something for someone else and expressing gratitude for it is where we can find that seemingly alluring happiness.
So, how do you put this into action? One of the best ways I make this work for me is by using a gratitude journal on a daily basis.
Writing in your gratitude journal
You can begin by avoiding the cell phone and laptop, and instead grab a physical, paper journal. Maybe put on some uplifting background music. Then get writing.
Take a moment to reflect on the things you are really grateful for in your life right now. When my son was young, he said air, ice cream and hugs. I have a friend who really appreciates indoor plumbing (guess that wasn’t always an option for her). Others focus on their family, friends, financial situation, health, funding -- you get the idea.
What if not everything is going the way you want it to? Well, be grateful for what you are working towards, what you desire most. Be grateful that because of your efforts and focus, the payoff is on the way. Think about that retirement account you are working on, the vacation you want to take, the beach house you are planning for and that perfect soul mate you know you are going to meet. Focus on these things like they will be presented to you at any moment and feel the gratitude for their arrival.
The more you can train your brain to seek out the good in your business and in life, the more fulfilled you’ll become and the more positivity starts to build around you. It’s always great to be able to prepare for issues before they happen, but you’ve got to be prepared for the good that is coming, too. Start by being able to see the positives instead of just the problems that you can now identify so easily.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors.