Gratitude. You hear and see slogans everywhere these days touting “choose happiness”, “happiness is a choice”, “be grateful.” But is it that easy? Can you just flip a switch and MAKE an emotion happen? When things are going well in your life its easier to feel that. Sometimes everything is going right yet we still can’t tap into that emotion. “What’s wrong with me? AM I BROKEN?” There’s a missing piece here. We can have everything in this world handed to us on a platter and still be void of happiness if we’re not reflecting on our life and what a blessing the little and big things can be.

So what do you do when everything is going wrong? Maybe you don’t think you have anything to be grateful for? Maybe the world has taken everything from you. Sometimes when we’re down the last thing we want to do is be positive. It seems fake, unrealistic, and downright annoying. You want to listen to that depressing song, treat your body poorly and numb it with vices. Sometimes it feels good to relish in those terrible feelings whether we realize it or not.

Some people have it rougher than others, there’s no getting around that. Its true that ALL of us will experience ups and downs in our life. But how to do we cope with the bad. How do we “choose happiness” when everything is dragging us down? Well, we can train our brains to think. We train them to be depressed, we train them to be happy. The training is a daily practice. If everyday we are reflecting on the bad, the negative and depressing, it starts to become our reality. Those synapses in our brain become stronger and stronger until its a constant wheel in motion. The negativity train starts to run without us even conducting it anymore. Its a common human trait to complain. We think its conversation. Its normal. But who has a daily conversational habit of gratitude?

What if every day you got out the pen and paper and wrote down the things that you were grateful for. The little, the big. Maybe your life is so shitty that there’s only 1 or 2 things on that list? Well…focus on it. Get creative with the detail. Don’t just say “your family.” Write my uncle Larry is hilarious when he embarrasses my aunt and I get a kick out of it. I’m grateful for pumpkin spice everything. I’m grateful that i’m not in physical pain today. I’m grateful that I have 2 legs to stand on. I’m grateful that I didn’t live through WWII. I’m grateful for little kids laughing, or my favourite song. Don’t be fake about it. If you’re not actually grateful for that thing, don’t put it on your list. If your family pisses you off, emit it from your list. Be true, be authentic.

The options are limitless.

Personal development guru Tony Robbins was beaten relentlessly by his mother when he was a boy. When the now billionaire shared his gratitude list he mentioned his mom. He told her he was grateful for her because she made him the man his was today. An initial reaction to that statement is usually met with anger. When you think about it, it couldn’t be truer. She was responsible for turning him into the man he was today. He set out a new path for himself and his future family to do better, to be better and to help others who needed help. Not only did he find forgiveness for her, he found gratitude. “Gratitude is the antidote” he says and includes this ritual into his life daily.

Slowly but surely you’ll start to grow new eyes. Your positive synapses in your brain will get stronger and that old train will crash. A new technology will emerge in your head and you’ll be headed in a new path. Maybe you only have ONE thing, or ONE person that you’re grateful for. Maybe thats all you need. That’s the starting point to a new understanding and new you.