14 ways to change your life with a gratitude practice

gratitude note

I often describe gratitude as the well-being wonderdrug. It has a positive impact in multiple ways, from greater happiness, to better health, to reduced stress.

As part of my series on learning to love your life at work, I was initially going to dive deeper into the benefits of gratitude. Then I remembered the mother of all gratitude posts, 31 benefits of gratitude. So I decided to link to that and focus on ideas for developing a gratitude practice.

Most of the ideas here can be applied during your work day. I’m including a wider range of ideas because you don’t live in a work silo. The gratitude habit you develop in your whole life is the gratitude habit you will bring to work.

1. Take stock of the obvious

The first step is just to sit down and take stock of what you’re grateful for. Look around at your life in 360 degrees. What jumps out at you as obvious things you feel grateful for? Start making a list.

2. Keep a gratitude journal

At its simplest, a gratitude journal can entail sitting down before bed each night and writing down three to five things you can feel grateful about that day. Try to really feel the gratitude, as opposed to making it just an intellectual exercise.

If you want to go deeper, you might try something like keeping a Positive Journal.

3. Keep an ongoing gratitude list

Start with the initial list you made in your initial taking stock. Over time, keep adding new things to the list. You could even try doing a one (or more) a day challenge, adding at least one new thing to be grateful about every day.

These two posts on my Ripple Revolution blog have some good questions to ask as gratitude prompts:

17 gratitude-prompting questions for your gratitude journal

17 more gratitude-prompting questions

Pull the ever-growing list out on a regular basis and review the entire list, pausing to let yourself feel the gratitude.

4. Create gratitude reminders

Put up gratitude reminders to help you remember to look for things to be grateful for. Maybe you put up sticky notes where you will regularly see them. Maybe you print out the words “Thank You” and put it in a frame. Play with whatever will help keep gratitude awareness top of mind.

5. Take a gratitude walk

Go out for a walk with the intention of noticing things to feel grateful for. That might be a beautiful sunny day, or the way the rainy day is making the grass so vividly green, or the feeling of your legs moving, or the fact that your body works as well as it does. Once you start looking, you might be amazed at how much there is to feel grateful for.

6. Take a gratitude drive

This is similar to a gratitude walk, except you do it in the car. You can use any ol’ time behind the wheel – your commute, running errands, taking the kids to soccer practice – to practice finding things to be grateful for.

7. Have a gratitude meal

If you sit down with family for a meal on a regular basis, try making one of those meals a gratitude meal on a regular basis. Each person in turn can share something they’re grateful about, maybe even why they’re grateful, and what it means to them.

I love the idea of making this a frequent occurrence, especially with kids. The more our minds know they’re going to be called on with a “gratitude quiz,” the more they start to take note throughout the day. Imagine planting those seeds with your kids!

8. Find a gratitude partner

Just like having a workout partner helps you stay committed to going to the gym, having a gratitude partner can help you stay engaged in your gratitude practice. That might look like, for example, a weekly meeting over coffee where each of you share the main gratitude themes you’re noticing in your lives.

9. Use complaints as gratitude triggers

Want to feel more gratitude, but really feel more like an old crankypants? Fear not! You can use your crankitude as a starting point. When you notice yourself kvetching, use that as a signal to shift your focus. “OK, yeah, that’s irritating. Now, what am I grateful for?”

10. Pick a daily gratitude theme

Try giving each day a daily theme. Maybe one day is “people.” Maybe another day is “visual.” Another day might be “learning.” Brainstorm a list of possible themes, pick one, and look for gratitude opportunities in that theme.

11. Keep a gratitude jar

Find a jar or some other container, and cut up some small slips of paper. Every time you notice yourself feeling grateful about something (even small things), write it down on one of those slips and put it in the jar.

Besides giving you a focus for your gratitude (and the kinesthetic reinforcement of writing it down and physically putting it in the jar), as the contents of the jar grows it gives your a gratitude grab bag of sorts. You can reach in and grab a slip at random for a little gratitude reminder.

12. Practice gratitude in bed

I love this one. When you wake up in the morning, before getting out of bed, lie there and do a gratitude check. Then, when you go to bed at the end of the day, do the same thing. It doesn’t need to take long, but it catches your mind at some of the times when it is most receptive.

13. Do a gratitude meditation

If you’re a meditator, explore making gratitude a central focus on a regular basis. That might focusing on one thing you’re grateful for, or on the feeling of gratitude, or even letting your mind go from gratitude point to gratitude point.

14. Download a gratitude app

Do a search for gratitude apps for your smartphone. There are a lot of them out there.

Make it an experiment

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to this. I encourage you to take these ideas (as well as any others you might come up with), pick something that resonates most, and experiment with it. See how it works. See how you like it, and what effect it has.

From there, you can either continue with it, integrating it more deeply into your habitual mode, or launch another experiment.

[Want to get Wild About Work? Take the first step with my FREE audio course.]

–-

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

For a more positive work experience, direct your focus

focus marbles

[Part of a series on learning to love your life at work.]

Imagine that the sum total of what you focus on in your life can be boiled down to ten marbles. Each of these marbles can be either black or clear (or whatever colors you prefer). The black marbles represent objects of focus that can be perceived as negative, and the clear ones represent the positive.

Which marbles you focus on, and in what ratio, shapes how you see the world. If your focus is consumed primarily by the black marbles, you’ll see a world filled with negative thoughts, events, people, experiences, and trends.

On the other hand, if you focus primarily on the clear marbles, your world will be filled with more of the positive.

Each time you shift your focus to include a clear marble, a black one drops out of view, and vice versa.

This, in a much more complex and interrelated way, is how your view of the world actually works. The more you focus on the positive, the more positive you see, and the less room there is for the negative. The more you focus on the negative, the less you’ll see the positive.

Use your focus to sculpt your work experience

What you focus on shapes how you see the world. How you see the world shapes what you experience (and what you experience, in turn, shapes both what you focus on and how you see the world).

You can use this idea to start sculpting how you experience your work (and your life in general). You can start with getting in the habit of answering this simple question:

What’s good here?

What can you notice that is good? What is fun? Who do you enjoy? What are you grateful for? What experiences feel good?

Don’t just look for the home run goodness (like doing work you love, or the big raise you just got). Look for the small things too. That might include things like:

  • The satisfaction of finishing a project.
  • An enjoyable conversation with a co-worker.
  • The feel of the sun as it streams in through the window on your face.
  • Any compliments or positive feedback.
  • The feeling of collaborating with a good team of people.
  • The funny banter in a meeting.

Remember, your goal is to fill as much of your view as possible with the positive focus marbles.

Addition by subtraction

It’s not just consciously increasing the amount of positive focus, though. It’s also consciously letting go of any negative focus. Removing the negative from your focus not only reduces the amount of negativity taking up your view, it also makes more room for the positive.

An easy example of this is habitual complaining. When you make a habit of complaining, what you’re really doing is reinforcing a negative focus. “I don’t like this. Why can’t they that?”

And the more of that you reinforce, the more you have a tendency to see. It’s a vicious cycle.

Try this: As always, I encourage you to take this idea and do an experiment with it to see for yourself if the idea has merit. There are actually two experiments here to try.

Focus on the positive

First, make a list of all the things you can think of that are positive during your day. This is just to get you started and to prime the pump for your brain to shift into noticing-the-positive gear.

Then, for the next week, experiment with noticing as much of what’s positive as you can. Put a sticky note on your wall to remind you. Set a notification on your phone. You might even bring a co-worker into your experiment and have a daily discussion about the positive each of you have noticed.

The longer you do this, the more your mind will start to automatically notice the positive, so if you feel inclined to continue after that week, keep on going!

Reduce the negative focus

This one is simple. Stop complaining. Try it for one week. As you do, do your best to minimize your exposure to other people’s complaining as well.

If you want to go whole hog with it, you can try the 21 Day Complaint Free Challenge.

Between the two of these experiments, my guess is you will notice a shift start to occur.

The benefit of this approach comes in two ways. The first is the immediate impact of shifting your focus. And the second is the long-term impact of training your mind both to notice more of the positive and to dwell less on the negative.

The more positive you see, the more positive you’re likely to notice. And the more positive you notice, the more positive your experience.

It’s a virtuous cycle.

[Want to get Wild About Work? Take the first step with my FREE audio course.]

–-

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

What is mindfulness?

In the most recent post in my series on learning to love your life at work, I talked about how mindfulness can make your work day better.

In that post, I gave a definition of mindfulness from Jon Kabat-Zinn, one of the people behind the introduction of mindfulness to the West with his Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program.

If you want to go beyond a one-sentence definition, here is Kabat-Zinn giving an overview of the concept in a short five-minute video.

If you want to go a little deeper, here is Kabat-Zinn doing a talk and leading a session at Google.

[Want to get Wild About Work? Take the first step with my FREE audio course.]

–-

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

How mindfulness improves your life at work

your work plus mindfulness

[Part of a series on learning to love your life at work.]

Picture this. You’re sitting at work, doing what you do. It’s an ordinary day, just like any other. Except…today there’s a twist.

You’re still doing your work, but somehow you find yourself in the proud possession of a magic button that pushes pause on three things:

  1. The past
  2. The future
  3. Your judgment about whatever is happening right now

Think your experience might be a little different that day? Let’s take a look.

The Past

OK, let’s assume that whatever magic wand cleared out the past left all the past awareness you need to do your job intact. What it pushed pause on was all your memories and associations from the past that you have negative associations with.

So for example, on this particularly unusual day you won’t have:

  1. Regrets about mistakes you have made
  2. Doubts about yourself stemming from past failures
  3. Negative stories about your co-workers based on conflicts you have had in the past
  4. Resentments based on past perceived slights

The list goes on, but you get the idea.

Notice anything about all of these? Not a single one of them is happening in the present moment of your work day. And yet, if you’re anything like the rest of us, you spend untold amounts of energy in the suffering they create.

Press pause and – POOF – that suffering disappears.

Bottom line, we layer all kinds of unpleasantness over our experience of the present moment by bringing our negative past experiences into the present and giving them life. Push pause on that, and our experience of the here-and-now improves immensely.

The Future

Bringing the past forward into the present moment is bad enough (or rather, the perceived past, since studies show that what we remember tends to be a poor representative of what actually happened). But bringing the future into the present moment is sheer folly.

Why?

Because, while the past at least has something you can point to and say, “that happened,” (however inaccurate that might be), the future is 100%, no ifs-ands-or-buts made up. Complete fantasyland.

And yet, how often do you get your knickers in a knot about something that might happen? How often do you make yourself miserable worrying about some future outcome that may or may not ever become reality?

For most of us, the answer to that is, “Waaaaaaay too often.”

Now imagine going through your day with none of said knicker-knotting. How much more energy would that free? How much more peaceful would that feel?

Judgments about the Present

Finally, imagine that someone hit “mute” and quieted that voice that gives a running commentary about what you’re doing and experiencing.

You’ll still experience everything, both pleasant and unpleasant. But you won’t hear the comments from the peanut gallery. No commentary saying:

  • That was stupid.
  • Why can’t I be more patient?
  • I shouldn’t be so _____. (fill in the blank with your favorite self-criticism of choice)
  • I should be more _____.
  • This shouldn’t be like this.
  • When will this stop?
  • They shouldn’t be so _____.

All of those judgments add mental suffering to the picture. They add a projected pain to any unpleasantness that actually exists. They also get in the way of more fully experiencing (and enjoying) the present moment.

The “magic” of mindfulness

So you have looked all around and you can’t find the magic button to push so you can hit pause. What to do, what to do?

You’re in luck. Because you don’t need a magic button. All you need is mindfulness.

What, you might ask, is mindfulness? I’ll let Jon Kabat-Zinn, one of the people behind the introduction and popularization of the idea in the West, explain:

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: On purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”

So basically mindfulness is way of experiencing the present moment without all the chatter of the past, the future, and judgments about the present mucking it up.

Think that might make any difference in how you experience your life at work?

(Hint: The answer is yes.)

p.s. If you want a deeper look at mindfulness, here’s a what is mindfulness post – a short video of Kabat-Zinn giving an overview of the concept, as well as a longer one of him doing a talk and mindfulness session at Google.

[Want to get Wild About Work? Take the first step with my FREE audio course.]

–-

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

Change your story, change your life at work

change your story, change your life

The stories you tell create the lens through which you experience your world. Want to change your experience? Change your stories!

Of all the ideas in this series on learning to love your life at work, this is possibly the most powerfully and immediately impactful.

It’s no magical, mystical idea. It’s simply common sense. We all tell stories. It’s how the human mind makes sense of the world. The story you tell is the way you interpret an experience. Two different people can experience the exact same thing and, depending on the story they tell, come away with two completely different impressions of what happened.

Being conscious of your stories and working to shift them in a more positive, enlivening direction is one of the single most powerful habits you can develop.

The value of awareness

You can go at it from multiple angles, with ever-increasing amounts of nuance and awareness. But at its simplest it boils down to three questions.

  • What is the story I’m telling here?
  • How does it make me feel? Does it have an expansive or constricting impact?
  • (If it has a negative impact) Is there a more positive story I could tell?

Next time you find yourself feeling constricted, maybe frustrated, irritated, angry, etc., stop and ask yourself those three questions.

It starts with awareness. So often we react to what we see through the lens of our stories as though it were solid Truth with a capital T. It seems so obviously real that we don’t even question that it might only be a reflection of the story we’re telling.

If we don’t have awareness, we remain at the mercy of whatever constricting story is at the heart of it. Awareness opens the door to the potential for positive change.

Dramatic change (with no change)

I see the effectiveness of exploring different stories all the time in working with my Passion Catalyst clients. A great example of this was Bill. By the time he reached out to me, he was so frustrated with his work that he wanted to quit immediately.

One big source of frustration was the game-playing (or, as he perceived it, manipulation) that was rife in the industry he worked in. It was at odds with his values.

As we explored that, he acknowledged that it wasn’t that the people were bad, or that their intentions were malicious – it was just the way the game was played in that particular industry. And there was pretty much zero chance he was going to change that.

I suggested that he try an experiment. Every time he noticed his button getting pushed by someone interacting that way, instead of building up a head of righteous indignation, why not just laugh internally and say, “There they go, playing that game again.”

He was skeptical, but agreed to give it a try. A week later he came back and said, “Curt, I have just had the most positive week at work I have had in months!”

He kept working with that, and it created a complete shift in what had been a major source of the steam coming out his ears by the end of the day. His experience changed dramatically, even though nothing externally had actually changed.

3 kinds of stories

As I described in my post about how to do an internal energy audit, there are three broad areas you’ll find your stories. From that post:

Stories about yourself: These might include, for example, self-criticism vs self-appreciation (e.g., “hey, I really did that well,” or, “it wasn’t perfect, but I did the best I could.”) or self-doubt versus self-belief.

Stories about others: Do you see others as basically good or basically flawed? Do you see the best in others or the worst? Are you hyper-critical of others or supportive and understanding? Is your basic default trust or distrust?

Stories about circumstances: Do you feel like a victim of circumstances or do you habitually look for ways you can improve things? Do you see the world as a fearful place or a hopeful place?

Find your limiting stories

As I mentioned earlier, awareness is key. But sometimes that can feel easier said than done. One easy way to start building awareness is to start noticing the things where you feel a constriction and contraction.

Some examples include:

  • Irritation
  • Frustration
  • Anger
  • Impatience
  • Judgment (both of others and yourself)
  • Resistance of what is
  • Stress

Any time you notice any of those, you can step back and say, “OK, what’s my story about this? What is it that is causing me to feel this?”

Another way to approach it is to ask, “How should things be?” Your irritation, frustration, etc. typically stem from feeling that things should be one way and having them be another. It’s a good bet that how things should be – as you see it – is part or all of your story.

(On a side note, Byron Katie’s process, called The Work, is an excellent tool for finding a greater sense of peace with what is.)

Yet another way to notice your limiting stories is to watch for all or nothing words. For example, phrases like:

  • They always
  • He never
  • I can’t

Frequently the black-and-white stories we tell are only a caricature of reality. If we look at them more objectively, we often see that we’re looking through a lens that encourages us to confirm that point of view.

For example, “He always rambles on in meetings” completely ignores those occasions when the person in question either didn’t ramble on or played a constructive role in the conversation.

The more aware you can be of your limiting stories, the better equipped you are to explore the opportunities to sculpt them in a more affirming direction.

I’m not suggesting that you just sit there and blow sunsine up your wazoo 24/7. Sometimes there really are negative things that need to be addressed. But if you’re like most of us, you inflict a lot of unnecessary suffering on yourself simply through stories that could easily be changed.

Find your enhancing stories

While you’re at it, it’s worth looking at your enhancing stories as well. Again, it’s about awareness. The more aware you are of the positive stories you tell (stories about yourself and your abilities, stories about where others are coming from, your optimistic view of what’s possible, etc.), the more potential you have to cultivate and grow them.

Do your own experiment

I’m a big fan of the “don’t just believe me, test it for yourself” school of thinking. With that in mind, I encourage you to try an experiment.

Find a limiting story that you tell frequently. Spend a little time looking for other stories you could tell about that situation/experience that would leave you feeling lighter. Then, for the next week, play with catching the story in action and swapping it out with the new one.

It doesn’t have to be anything big. For example, I had one client who couldn’t stand the drama and conflict he saw all too often in meetings. The drama typically didn’t involve him, but his story – unbeknownst to him – was that if drama was happening, it was real, and it affected him.

When he realized this, he started telling a new story. “This isn’t my drama.” He was able to take a step back and watch the drama, rather than get pulled in.

He even took it a step farther by starting to ponder what the story behind the drama might be for the person or people in question. “Why are they responding like that? Where are they coming from? What are they trying to get accomplished? What are they afraid of?” It added a whole new dimension of “human interest” to the meetings.

If you see any difference at all, expand the experiment. Continue focusing on the same story for the next month and see what happens. Or expand it to include other stories.

Story by story, you can change your world.

[Want to get Wild About Work? Take the first step with my FREE audio course.]

–-

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

 

How to do an internal energy audit

How to do an internal energy audit

In this series on learning to love your life at work, part of what I am exploring is how to improve your experience of life at work, regardless of whether or not you can change anything about the work itself.

A great place to start is by doing an “internal energy audit.”

One of the tools I encourage people to use in their efforts to improve the here and now is an energy audit aimed at the work itself. They look at what energizes them and what drains them, and then explore ways to bring more of the energy-inducing aspects into the picture and reduce the drains.

That same idea is relevant for your internal landscape.

It’s essentially the same idea. You’re asking:

  • How do I contribute to feeling more energized?
  • How do I contribute to feeling less energized?

Another way of thinking about it (one I’m using more and more in my own life) is:

  • How do I open to the flow of energy?
  • How do I constrict the flow of energy?

One way or another, we all do each of those in umpteen different ways. For example:

Opening to the flow

  • Focusing on what’s positive
  • Gratitude
  • Expressing the positive (e.g., sharing your observations on what’s good with someone)
  • Grounding practices like meditation and breathing practices
  • Staying in the present moment instead of lost in negative stories
  • Questioning your limiting stories, assumptions, and beliefs
  • Consciously exposing yourself to what’s positive and uplifting

Constricting the flow

  • A habitual focus on the negative
  • Pessimism
  • A tendency to be critical, whether of yourself or others
  • Mistaking your negative thoughts for reality
  • A tendency to ruminate and worry
  • Getting lost in your negative stories
  • Constantly exposing yourself to what’s negative and constricting (e.g., the news)
  • Never letting yourself slow down and relax

Internal Energy Audit Framework

Here’s a framework to get you started.

1. What stories are you telling?

You don’t see the world as it is. You see it through the lens of the stories you tell. We all do. Sometimes those stories are positive, and sometimes they’re negative. Sometimes they’re empowering, and sometimes they’re disempowering. What kind of pictures are your stories painting?

You can explore three broad kinds of stories:

Stories about yourself: These might include, for example, self-criticism vs self-appreciation (e.g., “hey, I really did that well,” or, “it wasn’t perfect, but I did the best I could.”) or self-doubt versus self-belief.

Stories about others: Do you see others as basically good or basically flawed? Do you see the best in others or the worst? Are you hyper-critical of others or supportive and understanding? Is your basic default trust or distrust?

Stories about circumstances: Do you feel like a victim of circumstances or do you habitually look for ways you can improve things? Do you see the world as a fearful place or a hopeful place?

The either/or questions there are only a handful of examples to give you an idea of what kinds of stories you might find, not an exhaustive list.

2. What do you focus on?

Do you focus on the positive or the negative? Do you focus on what you’re grateful for or what you dislike? Do you focus on what you enjoy, or what grates on you?

3. Do you have room in your mind for quiet or are you lost in the noise?

A great way to tilt toward constriction is to never give your mind any time and space for quiet. Do you give yourself time to pause and be still, or are you constantly doing, doing, doing? Do you allow your mind some silent space, or do you habitually fill that space with something? (Try just being alone in silence for a while and see what happens. If you find yourself starting to crawl out of your skin, it’s a good bet you’re not giving your mind the space it needs.)

4. What input are you feeding your mind?

What do you habitually feed your mind? Do you seek out positive and uplifting input, like books to help you learn and grow or inspiring stories, or do you fill it with news about how the world is going to hell and images of violence and despair? Do you spend your time having positive conversations with people, or are you a long-standing member of the Bitch-n-Moan Club?

Do an ongoing energy audit

Taking a first look at the areas outlined above is a great way to start shining a light at what is going on in your internal landscape, but it’s not a one-and-done effort.

Try making it a habit to do an ongoing energy audit. Maybe it’s as simple as spending five minutes on your commute home reviewing the day and checking in with how things looked internally in each of those areas.

The more you can recognize what’s happening on an ongoing basis, the more you have the potential to work with those internal aspects to shift them ever-more in a positive direction.

And the more positive your internal landscape, the more positive your experience will inevitably be of what’s going on in the world around you.

[Want to get Wild About Work? Take the first step with my FREE audio course.]

–-

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

Learn to love your life (at work)

All too often, people take an either/or approach to loving their work. Either they’re in a job they love, or they have to just suck it up and accept that work is a four-letter word.

The reality is that there is an amazing amount that can be done to make positive change in our experience of our jobs, even without something big and dramatic like a career change.

When my Passion Catalyst clients come to me for help figuring out a new career that lights them up, they’re often in a high state of frustration. In order to create more mental and emotional space to move forward, frequently we end up spending time exploring the question, “How do I make the here-and-now better?”

In this series, I want to share some of what I have learned over the last 14 years so you can apply it to your own career. Whether you love your work or loathe it, you’ll benefit from these ideas.

This is the main page for this series. As I write new posts looking more deeply at each of the ideas below, I will add links here.

Learn to love your life (at work)

As I have looked at taking a more defined approach to here-and-now improvement efforts, I started distinguishing between loving your work and loving your life at work.

If you’re in a crap job, there may be precious little you can do to improve the job itself (though there might be more than you realize). But there is a lot you can do to change your experience of your time there.

An added bonus of the ideas I’ll be outlining is that they’re all equally applicable in the rest of your life. So really it’s not just about learning to love your life at work. It’s about using work as a learning lab for how to have a better experience of life in general. Not bad, eh?

External change

The most obvious opportunities for improving the here-and-now involve making external changes. Broadly put, it involves:

  • Adding more of what energizes you.
  • Reducing what drains your energy.

This is a simple process of working with what I call the Gain-to-Drain Ratio In a nutshell, the more you have in your day of what energizes you (the gain), and the less you have of what drains you, the more energized you will feel. Simple, common-sense, and powerfully effective

[See Energize your career with the Gain-to-Drain Ratio for a basic how-to on this idea.]

[Check out a deep-dive look at this in my series How to feel more juice in your job.]

People are often surprised at how much ability they have to sculpt things for the better, just by consciously working with their gains and drains.

Internal change

Improving your here-and-now isn’t just about making external changes. You have an immense potential to make positive change at the internal level as well.

This section isn’t about changing your work. It’s about changing your relationship with your experience at work. And often, this is where the biggest potential for change is. Why? Because it’s the one thing you have control over!

Here are some ways you can sculpt that internal experience.

Do an internal energy audit

Just like you can do an energy audit of your external situation to identify the energy gains and drains, you can explore how you contribute to gains and drains internally.

A tendency to look for the learning and growth in any situation, even the negative ones? There’s a gain. A tendency to dwell on the negative? Definite drain. An inclination to focus on gratitude? Gain. A habit of seeking out people to bitch to who will confirm your negative perspective? Yep, that’s a drain.

[Get started with how to do an internal energy audit]

Check and change your stories

The stories we tell create the lens through which we see the world. The same event could have two completely interpretations (and consequently be experienced in two completely different ways), depending on the story we tell about it.

As Anais Nin said, “We don’t see the world as it is, but as we are.”

When you check your story about anything, you’re opening the door to awareness, and awareness opens the door to change. When you change your story, you change your experience.

[Change your story, change your life at work]

Practice mindfulness

Staying anchored in the present moment, paying nonjudgmental attention to what is happening without spinning off into stories about the past or worries about the future can have a dramatic impact on how you experience your time at work.

[See how mindfulness improves your life at work.]

[What is mindfulness?]

Direct your focus

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the more you focus on what’s good in any given situation, the better your experience is going to be. And the more you focus on what’s bad, the worse it will be.

Directing your focus is about consciously looking for the positive and focusing your attention there.

[Check out how directing your focus creates a more positive work experience.]

Develop a gratitude habit

Research has shown that gratitude has a multi-faceted positive impact, mentally, physically, and emotionally. And the better you feel on all those fronts, the better your experience at work is going to be.

[Here are 14 ways to change your life with a gratitude practice.]

Develop a grounding practice

Imagine how you feel when you’re spooled up and tense, or when you’re operating at mach speed with energy flying off in all directions. Both of those scenarios leave you feeling drained and depleted.

Developing a grounding practice (e.g., meditation, breathing practices, etc.) can help you minimize the time you spend in those kinds of states, not to mention help you stay focused.

[Find out why your career needs you to meditate.]

Feed your brain the good stuff

Part of what creates the lens you look through as you experience work (and the rest of your life) is what you feed your brain.

Feeding your mind positive, uplifting brainfood (e.g., listening to an inspiring audiobook on your commute or having a conversation with someone positive) contributes to a more positive, uplifting view overall.

Feeding it negative, toxic brainfood (e.g., listening to news about still more tragedy and turmoil, or having yet another habitual bitch session with a negative colleague) creates a perspective where you’ll see and experience more of that.

Build a foundation

This last one doesn’t actually have anything to do with work, but it has everything to do with your potential to experience your day positively. Building a solid foundation with your diet, exercise, staying hydrated, etc. can have a dramatic impact on how you feel, and consequently your potential for experiencing your day at work positively.

So there you have it. An external and internal approach to making the here-and-now of your work more energizing and alive-ifying. Stay tuned for more posts!

[Want to get Wild About Work? Take the first step with my FREE audio course.]

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Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

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