“When you are grateful fear disappears and abundance appears” – Anthony Robbins

I’m sure most of you have heard the term ‘attitude of gratitude’ before but my hope is to bring it to the Monsters vs Me readers who haven’t. Even if it’s something new to one person or this motivates you to instill it into others minds, then my job here is done.

So what is an attitude of gratitude?

The way I have come to know it, was when I really needed it the most. There was a point in my life where nothing seemed to be going right for me. I had hit rock bottom and I know that people say once you hit that level, you can only go up, but I somehow managed to find bigger rocks to sink to. I started to look at people around me and noticed that they too, had problems. Everyone had problems, but somehow some of us could still remain positive and happy. How was that possible?

One day, after an hour of playing with my nephew, I sat back and realized that during those 60 minutes, I didn’t think of those ‘problems’ once. It was like they didn’t even exist. Where did they go? It was because my mind was focused on something that I was grateful for. Playing with my nephew and being someone that he looks up to, gives me the greatest joy. A positive thought is ten times more powerful than a negative thought. My mind was programmed only to think about the good that was currently in my life. So I began to think… “well, if that worked for an hour, what would happen if I think about everything that I’m grateful for”. So I did. I began to write a list of everything that was currently making me happy in my life. Instantly, I could write down 20 points about how my life rules. I started to be thankful for the good in my life rather than focus on the bad. The bad will always be there and how we deal with it determines the direction we go in and how strong of a person we are.

I started to examine other peoples problems even closer and realized that.. “hey… I don’t have it so bad after all”. Someone once told me “No matter how bad your problems may seem, there’s always someone in the hospital that will trade places with you in a second” and they were right. My health was good, I had a roof over my head, I had clothing, a job, friends and family, the list could go on and on and it wasn’t until I stopped focusing on the negatives that I started to appreciate the good that surrounds my life. In turn, this made me a happier person and led me on a path to success.

Watch the video below, especially if you hate your job.

“Go to foreign countries and you will get to know the good things one possesses at home.” – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

As much as I had been exercising this attitude, when I went down to Haiti, this idea was demonstrated to me on a level that words can’t even begin to describe. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I ventured down to do some photography in November 2010. I knew it was a country stricken with poverty and disease but when I started to meet some Haitian people, I was in complete shock……………….. They’re all happy. Previously I mentioned “My health was good, I had a roof over my head, I had clothing, a job, friends and family…” for things that I am grateful for, but the majority of Haitian people don’t even have that and somehow manage to have a smile on their face. As much as we go down there to help, it’s the Haitians who are helping us. We need to bring some Haitian people down here to instill an attitude of gratitude in us. They are happy with two walls that they can call a home, they are happy to eat once a day because they don’t know any different. We are too brainwashed that we need everything to make us happy. What’s wrong with tying a piece of string to an empty water bottle and calling it a toy? Doesn’t sound exciting? Well I witnessed a group of Haitian kids playing with that water bottle for hours and having such a great time. They are grateful for that water bottle and instantly their mind is programmed to be happy. I gave $10 to a person I become close friends with and told him to buy a new pair of shoes with it, but more importantly I thanked him. He was confused. This was the first time that he got thanked for accepting money. I thanked him for everything he had taught me further about an attitude of gratitude. I thanked him for showing me that I could be happy without my Blackberry, without my computer and even without my camera. Although I was down there to take photos, it was the friendships that I made with the Haitians and the lessons they taught me that I’ll never forget.

Ewenso, Junior and myself posing for a photo in Haiti.

Thanking people is a big part of it. It not only shows them that you are grateful for something they may have provided you with but it also programs your mind to be grateful for being in a situation to be grateful.. woah.. I’m grateful for being able to use the word grateful… ok, I’ll stop.. but you get the idea. Everyday when I wake up, right before my feet hit the ground, I say Thank You. I’m not sure if I’m saying it to anyone in particular or I’m saying it to my mind, but it doesn’t matter. The point is to start your day off with a good thought. I’m grateful for waking up today and given the chance to ______________ (fill in the blank). When the situation seems negative, try your best to find something to say thank you about. In my case, I want to say a giant thank you to those million companies who didn’t hire me when I was looking for a 95er (9 – 5 job). If it wasn’t for these people not taking a chance on me, I may have never had to create my own job and start my own photography business. So thank you.

If you have a hard time developing an attitude of gratitude, then surround yourself with happy people. Too often its the negativity that we are surrounded with that has the biggest influence on our life. Its hard to cut off a friend, I understand, but if their constant negative attitude is bringing you down, then I wouldn’t classify them as a friend. Like attracts like, and happiness attracts happiness. Become a happy person and you will attract it into your life. I know first hand from experience that this works. Who knows, maybe this is the wake up call that your friend needs and in the end, they thank YOU for helping them realize it.

So for this week, I challenge you to write a list of things you are grateful for and you’ll see how your life will positively change. I also encourage you to write one thing you are grateful for in the comments.. I am grateful for ______________ . This will start a train to motivate others to do the same and make people realize that they too, have a great life. I’ll start it off.

“Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.”
– Brian Tracy