Today’s post is about gratitude, but I thought I’d start with an interesting story.
In 1986 the carrot industry was in trouble.
Supermarkets would only buy the most beautiful carrots. The ugly ones would get turned into juice or just thrown away. As a result, there wasn’t much money in carrots with over 50% of them going to waste.
But Mike Yurosek, a California carrot-farmer, had an idea.
He would cut and carve the “ugly” carrots and make them into what today we call baby carrots. He sold them to a local supermarket, Vons, where they were an instant hit. Soon other carrot growers and grocery stores followed suit. The new carrot was so influential that it increased carrot consumption in the US from 6.5 pounds a year in 1985 to 14 lbs a year in 1997.
The simple idea of reshaping “ugly” carrots into cute “baby” carrots had the power to grow an entire industry. Similarly, one simple idea can grow our happiness. That idea is gratitude.
What exactly is gratitude anyway?
Gratitude is two things. First, you acknowledge that something “good” happened in your life. And second, that this good thing is outside of yourself. In effect you’re saying “I could not have had this on my own. I was given something.” For example, we can be grateful for a variety of things that have been “given” to us. I can look outside my window and feel grateful that I live in a safe part of the world. That my streets are paved so I can travel smoothly and safely. That I was lucky to be born in a healthy body.
I did not make my neighborhood safe. I did not pave the streets. I did not write the DNA that made me healthy as a baby. All these things were given to me. And while it’s important to be grateful for the “things” we have, it’s far more important to be grateful to the human beings that made those things possible.
Robert Emmons first conducted scientific research on gratitude in the 1990’s. He discovered that being grateful to others improves relationship quality and well being. This is because when people were grateful they naturally became more helpful, kind and generous. Traits that make for better relationships.
An 80-year long Harvard study of 268 college students showed that healthy relationships is the number one thing that the worlds happiest people have in common. When I am grateful, I know that I smile more. I feel happier. And I can see that strangers are more likely to smile back at me. This creates a kind of positive feedback loop so that gratitude produces even more about which to be grateful.
But aren’t some people more grateful, because they have more to be grateful for?
I’ve heard people say, “If I were rich and famous, then I’d really be grateful.” Well, you can just read the celebrity news to know that they get divorced, drink heavily and get depressed just like others who are not wealthy and famous.
Money and fame certainly don’t guarantee happiness.
However, you can become happier and more grateful with simple practices. You probably know about a lot of these such as listing three things about which you are grateful. That exercise is great and I like to do some exercises that look at gratitude from a different angle. One such practice is called mental subtraction.
Mental subtraction involves imagining that something good in your life was never a part of your life. For example, you can imagine that you never met your best friend. Or you can imagine that you never met your wife, husband, grandchildren or anyone or anything else.
To do mental subtraction follow these steps:
- Think of a person you are grateful to have in your life. (it can also be an event or thing but it’s more powerful to focus on people)
- Imagine that the events that allowed you to have this person in your life were changed so that you did not meet them. Maybe you didn’t go to the party where you met your wife or husband. Maybe you somehow never got to meet your parents.
- Imagine how your life would be different without this person in your life. Notice how it feels to imagine how your life would proceed differently. Think of all the happy times that didn’t happen.
You might do this process in writing which helps you go far deeper. Whenever I try this exercise, it brings me to tears.
I’ve imagined that I never met my husband Morty. I would have never experienced loving and being loved as deeply as we were. There was so much we did together. Our two daughters who bring me such joy. I wouldn’t have my wonderful grandson. I would never have learned the Lefkoe Method and seen it change thousands of lives. I can only think of the people whose suffering would have continued without my husband and I working together.
After mentally subtracting Morty, I feel so uplifted.
Try it yourself and you may notice immediate benefits.
Gratitude, like the baby carrot, is a simple idea. And just as the baby carrot transformed an entire industry as well as our eating habits, gratitude can transform your entire life and even enhance what you do.
So my suggestion is to practice gratitude at least twice a week as it will gradually shift your perception, leading to a more enriching life.
So what life-enriching activities do we have going on at the Lefkoe Institute?
Free Strategy Sessions
In the month of May I’m offering five Free Strategy Sessions to readers who have never worked with me before. If that’s you, go here for more details: http://www.mortylefkoe.com/free-strategy/
The Lefkoe Freedom Course
“I’ve been taking the Lefkoe Freedom Course and I can honestly say that is has changed my life in a way that no other program has. When I first started, I had a lot of times where I felt like a victim and was stressed and worried, but now, things that used to bother me rarely do, I come up with solutions faster and I catch myself before I spiral downward. In general, I am happier and more peaceful.
“When they told me that if I followed all the instructions and did all my homework in this course, I would never really be stressed again, I thought, “It’s a chunk of money, but how many more programs would I NOT be buying in the future if I do this one?” So I bit the bullet.
“What is the price for peace of mind for the rest of your life?”
In the Lefkoe Freedom Course you learn how to dissolve the meaning your mind makes moment-by-moment. This allows you to release negative feelings in seconds and eventually leads to the habit of automatically dissipating negative emotions. So before you get a chance to have a negative feeling, it is gone.
We’ll be allowing registrations for the Lefkoe Freedom Course in the final week of September.
Only 20 students can join. If you want to be considered for the course, you’ll need to join the waiting list. Here’s the link: http://mortylefkoe.com/lfc/
Lefkoe Method Training 1
After finding out about The Lefkoe Method and experiencing the wonders it works, I got the principle and started eliminating various beliefs on my own. As a certified psychologist, I have many years of experience in working with people and even hearing the beliefs in their words, so I wasn’t sure the training would teach me something new. I’m glad to say I was wrong. The training was excellent, clear, and eye-opening. Getting to learn and understand the process “behind the scenes” was enriching and profound. Rodney is like a treasure box full of knowledge, resources and experience that is invaluable. I feel this training has helped me in unexpected ways, and has turned me into a better therapist. I feel much more confident in my ability to really help my clients now. Taking this course was perhaps the best decision I have ever made. I warmly recommend it to anyone who wishes to have this incredible tool in their arsenal.
Annabel Eisenhock, Israel
The Lefkoe Method Training 1 shows you how to eliminate your own beliefs as well as those of others. We do it through a process of tiny steps that leads to big learning. Registration will begin in January, 2020. But the registration link only goes out if you are on the waiting list and approved. If you want to be considered for the course, you’ll need to join the waiting list. Here’s the link: http://www.mortylefkoe.com/lmt1/lmt1-waiting-list.html
Once on the list you will get some free goodies that teach you a bit about eliminating beliefs.
If you’ve read this far, you are awesome. Why not leave a comment? I’d love to hear your feedback.