If there's one thing I'd like like to tell my younger self, it is this: Be aggressively grateful.
You will face difficult colleagues and bosses, frustrating office politics, career setbacks and redundancies, periods of wealth and periods of poverty. Be grateful, nevertheless.
It may all sound very hippy dippy, but really, what's the alternative? Be aggressively bitter and unhappy? How is that going to serve you? It'll certainly not make you happier.
The fascinating thing about gratitude is that the more you do it, the more it becomes second nature.
Here's a confession: I was aggressively ungrateful a few years ago. I saw only clouds and lightning in everything. And as a result, I felt as if the future was bleak.
It's best to be prepared for bad things, I figured, because I'd be prepared when it actually happens. Hope? Hope for what? What if hope doesn't come to pass? Then you'll be disappointed. Better to expect the worse than to hope, I reasoned.
It seemed like a good strategy, but it led me down the rabbit hole of sadness and despair. I have developed the muscle of "expecting the worse in everything" and I could not switch it off.
Who's the captain of your ship?
Around 2010 I decided enough was enough. I learned about something called cognitive behavioural therapy and it was revolutionary. I didn't realise, until then, that our thoughts were responsible for our moods.
So I changed by switching the way I thought. It was simple at first. Whenever I had dark thoughts about something, I'd append my negative thoughts with "but the good thing is...". For example, I may think, "Ugh, I hate how my home looks. But the good thing is I have a home, and that's so precious."
Doing this for years has turned this into a habit and a natural state of being.
So much so that I'm often taken aback when someone refuses to see the positive in things. To which I say, please be careful of these people. They may be good souls but they will drag you down into a dark tunnel with them if you're not careful. Misery loves company.
It's not that I no longer have difficult experiences at work. I do, but I no longer linger on what I lack and what's wrong in my life. I no longer fall down the rabbit hole of despair because gratitude always pulls me up.
So, be grateful; life will be sunnier as a result because you'll end up realising how blessed you truly are.
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