So yesterday I had a pretty incredible day, I am top upped on gratitude.

I did a talk at a new speaker’s agency, and they are keen to sign me.

I am invited to be at TEDx Johanneburg, I’m on a panel discussing education.

I got to test drive the BMW i8 (it doesn’t have a cd player).

A friend gave me Crossfit Training shoes, that I have been eyeing for awhile

AND… I had one of my tattoos touched up.

What a cool day.

The worst advice about gratitude

“List Three Things that you are grateful for.”

The benefits of living a grateful life is well known and documented by everyone from Oprah to Monks doing TED talks. This is one of my favorite TEDtalks by the way. We are told to list our three things that we are grateful for at the beginning or end of each day. The other option is to during the day we should note the things we are grateful for.

The worst word in this advice is the little word ‘list’, because we have lists for everything. We have to do lists, shoppings lists, movies to watch lists, and  friends to call lists. All of them neatly packaged in any of a zillion list apps.

Bullet points are called bullet points for a reason. I always tell people when teaching them how to build a great presentation for your public speaking that bullets points are death. You are taking aim and killing, slaughtering, your audience. Lists BAD, Images GOOD.

Lists are a head thing, a logical thing.

The formula goes, something like:

X*(things to be grateful for) = happinessX . 

or something like that.

In our modernist, super enlightened society, this makes sense. Yet, I have a stack of gratitude journals (thank Oprah) that proves otherwise. My lists mostly includes sex and wine, so that should give you a clue on how good making the list made me feel…

But we are more than heads, we are heart too, and body. I can’t stand the separation of head and heart, and so I hate the expression: Mind, body, Spirit. We are wholes, not just souls.

The best advice about gratitude

That being said, living a grateful life is key to living a good life. Think about it like this, if I (life, the Universe, God) give you something and you are not grateful, would it encourage me to give you more or less?


Yet, the list thing is terrible, because if it is only a list, it will only be a head thing.

Gratitude needs to be felt. It needs to be felt physically. It needs to felt in your body. We are too disconnected from our bodies, and hearts. It is for that reason that math and science are seen as necessary and important in our education and that art and poetry is seen as nice and ‘optional’.

This feeling of gratitude, in case you have forgotten, it sits just above your stomach and below your heart, like a warm soft expanding ball, remember?

“Feel the three things you are grateful for”

Your Turn

So when you make your list, or notice things during the day, or colour in your Oprah Gratitude colouring book (don’t know if she has one..). The trick is not to stop at making the list, in addition to making lists of things you are grateful for all day, the trick is to FEEL each item. Then to take a couple of seconds and close your eyes waiting for that feeling of gratitude to come land softly in your chest. (Recently Tony Robbins, whatever your opinion is of him, did a feeling based gratitude exercise on a Tim Ferriss podcast, which I found really helpful.)

This will change your life, or at least your day.

let me know in the comments if you have tried it, then go have a listen to that Tony Robbins exercise


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