This technique works any time, but it works best when you’re angry, upset, demoralized, or depressed. Try it now for kicks, then bookmark it–and try it again the next time you’re feeling bad. You will be amazed at how much it helps.
My Past Week
I haven’t had the easiest time of things lately. Several financial irritations hit all at once, causing me to have to dip into my savings account (some call it an “emergency fund”, but I have a distaste for that name.) I was angry not only about having to resort to my savings account, but about the circumstances that caused it. I felt like a failure; worthless. Emotions welled up inside me, and though I’ve had an acupuncture treatment and a massage, I can still feel the emotions causing tension in my body.
Being frustrated about money rolled over into several other areas of my life, and today was yet another rough day, with Richard being frustrated about me not wanting to spend money to hire someone to do handyman chores. This resurfaced the failure feelings in my head and caused a downward spiral.
I was unable to concentrate on my tasks at hand. My intention for today was to create some new videos, but my feelings of failure stopped me. Angry at myself for not being able to overcome my emotions, I finally hopped in the car and started driving.
As I was driving, I remembered something that had calmed me down from bad emotional spots in the past. I’m not sure where I picked this up, but it really works, and it’s darned simple.
The “Gratitude Countdown”
Here it is: Say out loud ten things you are grateful for.
This “gratitude countdown” works best when you are by yourself, so if you live with someone else, I recommend that you go out driving or walking to do this.
At first, you may have trouble thinking of any. You can start out with simple ones: I am grateful to be able to breathe freely. I am grateful I have food. I am grateful to have a place to live. I am grateful for the tree in my back yard that provides shade on hot, sunny days.
Count each one down. (I say the numbers out loud to help me keep track.) At some point (it usually hits me around #4), you’ll start to feel your emotions come out. Let them out! Release them. Get rid of them.
Later in the sequence, after you’ve released some emotions, you can start healing some of the wounds. Today, I posted an ad on craigslist for people to come pick up our old moving boxes. “Bring a truck, SUV, or large car,” I wrote. “Must take ALL the boxes.” Well, who shows up but a young couple in a tiny Ford Focus. They start packing the boxes in, but of course they can only take about half of them. I come outside to find they’ve picked only the best boxes, leaving the rest sitting on the driveway!
I wasn’t happy about it, but there wasn’t much I could do. So, as part of my gratitude countdown, I forgave them. I said I was grateful that I had been able to help them out by giving them free moving boxes, and that they were forgiven for only taking some of the boxes. Now someone else deserving can come pick up the rest, or we can save them for our next move. I don’t need to hold any anger about them. I can just release it and move on.
By the time you get to the end of your gratitude countdown, you will feel completely different. It probably won’t be perfect, but you will feel like you’re on the right track again.
Some of the other things I am grateful for today: An Internet marketer who lives here in San Diego recently inviting me to his mastermind group; Erica O’Grady helping to keep me accountable in my own goals with weekly checkups; Ramit Sethi encouraging me to get stuff done; Srini Saripalli, whose conference I recently spoke at and who is now a friend and business partner.
There are lots of good things happening in your life right now. Sometimes, they just tend to get overshadowed by the drama. What are the ten things you are most grateful for? (Feel free to post them here as a comment if you wish.)
Try this now, and then try it again next time you are feeling down. Heck, try it every day for 30 days. Let me know how it works out for you!
Update: I wrote this post on Saturday night. After doing a gratitude countdown, I overcame some mental hurdles and figured out some business issues that had been bugging me for weeks. This really does work!
- Feeling Lonely, Depressed, or Underappreciated? Read This! Another great exercise I did when I was feeling down. This one works really well, too.
- True Visionaries Think Backwards. One of my favorite posts. This one will help you if you’re feeling mopey or sad about the future, or don’t know where you want your life to go.
- How Can You Have That Perfect “Flow State” More Often? You know those amazing feelings you get when you’re in “the flow”? How can you have those more often?