My inner bully was driving me crazy.
My request to be a guest writer for a popular blog was rejected again. That’s 10 in the last 10 days.
“You aren’t good enough.”
“You don’t have what it takes to be a great writer.”
“You should just give up!”
My inner bully had been calm for the past week. I forgot about it and then it came roaring back, knocking me on my butt.
I didn’t feel like tackling anything that day.
I knew that I didn’t want that option.
It just felt like the only viable option.
I took almost a year-long break from writing. I had written almost every day for 20 years. The longest break before this was probably a week. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I had grand plans and I wanted to help people, but I didn’t know how.
It was at this point that my father got sick. He went into the hospital and I felt even more lost.
I stopped working in my company and went to work for a fortune 100 company. Right when I started, my father started getting fevers and visited the doctor. They couldn’t figure out what was going on inside of him. He slowly deteriorated and they figured out he had MDS, a form of blood cancer, before it turns Leukemia. They gave him a round of Chemotherapy and he had a bad reaction and almost died. He stabilized in the ICU and I flew up to see him.
He was tied to all kinds of tubes. I began crying, walked up to his bed and gave him a hug. He looked checked out. I was preparing for the worst.
I still wasn’t sure how to wrap my mind around the whole situation. My father was my rock and now he was dying.
The next day I walked outside with my mom and sat on the bench in front of the hospital. We reminisced about how my dad used to come home and yell out, “Hellooooooo!” and how he used to swat bees with his bare hands, even though he was allergic to them.
He was a crazy tough German.
I remember my brother and my mom went to the cafeteria to get a drink and I was sitting in the hospital room with him. He was weak and dozing in and out of consciousness. I pulled my phone, opened my notes app, and began listing all the things I was grateful for about my father.
Levels of Gratitude
I didn’t know what else to do. I wanted an outlet. I needed a place to put my anxiety.
These entries turned into little stories and I turned them into a book called Bring Gratitude.
It was how I processed my feelings.
I couldn’t give up writing, but I needed a reason to write. I had my reason. I could help people who were struggling in their lives and teach them how to build a gratitude practice to help them build a more resilient mindset.
As I got deeper into writing in my gratitude journal I’ve noticed a lot of nuances like the different levels of gratitude.
Here are the four levels of gratitude:
It gets exponentially harder as you go deeper into gratitude.
I’m notoriously tough on myself. I hated looking at myself in the mirror. I yelled at myself way too much. My internal voice was a big bully and I was tired of it.
When I noticed that my attitude improved with a gratitude journal I began to do research. I found out that…
Optimistic salespeople outsell their pessimistic counterparts by 56%. This comes from their ability to bounce back. People with an optimistic mindset viewed adversity as just being temporary. They thought it would get better. The people with a pessimistic mindset see these events as more permanent. They thought why try, it would just stay the same. Their beliefs dictated their actions. (1)
So how does one go about building a positive mindset?
It starts with understanding that your thoughts create emotions. These emotions drive your actions. We take action on things that excite us, not things that scare us.
You have to be nice to yourself, so you have the confidence to tackle a difficult problem. If you don’t believe in your abilities then you’ll give up before you even start. You have to build this foundation. It starts with being grateful for who you are and remembering things that you did well.
At the end of the day, use your gratitude journal to look back on what you did well:
- I did a great job creating that report to show my client how they could fix their website.
- I did a great job showing my oldest son appreciation when he showed me his artwork he made at school.
- I did a good job letting go of the stress from work, so I could relax before going to bed.
You learn to appreciate what you’ve done well and encourage yourself to do more of it. It’s a mini celebration at the end of the day.
The second part is being grateful for who you’ve become:
- I’m grateful that I don’t give up easily because it’s helped me succeed in my career.
- I’m grateful that I enjoy writing because it’s helped me connect with other amazing people.
- I’m grateful that I like to work out because it helps me stay healthy.
This is important because you’ve grown a lot in your life. You have to recognize where you’ve grown and this will encourage you to keep taking chances because we grow the most when we are challenged. If something is easy there isn’t much growth there.
You have to celebrate yourself!
This is how you become your greatest advocate.
Before you start on the hardest part of gratitude, I suggest you start small. Start with Surrounding Gratitude and work your way to Self Gratitude. You can join the next Bring Gratitude 30 Day Challenge and start building your grateful mindset so you can be a little more resilient and bounce back from anything.
If you are interested, join our next free 30-Day Bring Gratitude Challenge. It’ll help strengthen your mindset. When you join us, 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.
- Peterson, C., & Barrett, L. C. (1987). Explanatory style and academic performance among university freshman. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 435-442. Seligman, M.E.P., & Schulman, P. (1986). Explanatory style as a predictor of productivity and quitting among life insurance sales agents. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 832-838.