The Thinking Habit That Changed My Life

By Leo Babauta

I remember one evening, when my life was pretty different and I was overweight and deeply in debt and a smoker and had such a hard time changing things … I wasn’t feeling too good about my life.

I felt horrible about myself, and wondered why I was stuck. I felt hopeless and helpless, and generally depressed about the state of things around me.

Then I looked up at the sky, and saw the stars set in a deep blue-black canvas. And I thought, what a miracle life is.

And I resolved to mentally list the things I had in my life that were good.

My list of good things was something like this:

The list went on, but you get the idea. Even when things seemed horrible for me, actually I was OK. And more than that, I had some amazing blessings in my life.

That night I resolved to count my blessings more often. I resolved to be grateful for what I had, for the people in my life.

I started the habit of gratitude.

Now, this seems like a trivial and maybe trite and hokey thing to many people. I’m here to tell you that it’s not trivial, and as trite/hokey as it may seem, it changes lives.

Here’s what happened to me, as I changed my thinking from one of negativity, to one of gratitude:

The list goes on and on, but each of these things is incredibly powerful. Not trite. Not hokey. Pure wonder.

So how do you pick up this habit? It’s interesting, because so much of our lives is spent in unconscious mental habits. Without knowing it, we complain, we nitpick, we stress about little faults, we see the bad in people and situations. Changing that doesn’t happen immediately.

But. You can change a little at a time. Start with a small gratitude session, and really be thankful. Really feel the happiness that something or someone is in your life.

Take a moment to make a list, right now, of the things in your life you’re thankful for. You just might be looking back on this moment years later, as the moment your entire life changed.