This post is dedicated to my cat Ezio. Rest In Peace, buddy.
“When will it happen?” I asked myself over and over again. My journey this past year and a half has been one full of ups and downs, but I often found myself coming back to that singular inquiry. When will the next big thing happen? When will my next step show up? When will everything pay off?
It’s always healthy to focus on the future, as a failure to plan is a plan to fail. That being said, I’ve rediscovered the power of gratitude recently, and it has helped me in more ways than I can count. “But Gregory,” a straw man says, “why would you ever think that gratitude can change your life?” I’m so glad you asked. Let me explain.
Focusing on the future without taking stock of present progress does one a huge disservice. Instead of looking at what they’ve managed to accomplish, people with this mindset are always looking for the next thing to make them happy. Their drive, therefore, is focused on needing more. Needing more to make them happy. But what happens when they get it? It would seem that the cycle is doomed to repeat itself.
Look, we all need things. And sometimes, it is just that one next step that will make everything better. But I’ve found that there is something more powerful than that. Gratitude changes focus in a more positive way. Instead of putting energy into what I don’t have, it frees me and allows me to find peace by looking at what I do have.
For example, when I released my book, I immediately started to focus on all of the things that still needed to be done. Make a website, promotion, paperbacks, audiobook, social media: the list seemed endless. This consumed me so much that I still have an unopened bottle of wine my mom gave me to celebrate the release of my book (It WILL be opened when my next one comes out!). It turns out that, while I was thankful for the book’s release, I was so keyed into what I didn’t have and my “to do” list that I didn’t appreciate my accomplishment fully.
Fast forward to the beginning of this year. After a lot of self-reflection, I decided to try gratitude on for size. As it turned out, I found something amazing waiting for me on the other side. Gratitude for my accomplishments went hand-in-hand with giving myself credit. This led to happiness and love for myself and my abilities. I’ve been more positive and appreciative of myself and that which has come my way (and is to come!).
Again, I’m not trying to throw future planning under the bus! It’s very important. But maybe, if you find yourself lacking fulfillment, reframing how you’re looking at your life may be a large help. Consider being more appreciative of the blessings in your life, focusing instead on what you have rather than what you don’t. My guess is that you’ll walk away a happier person than when you started.
Gregory T. Obert