Why Entrepreneurs Need To Practice Gratitude Each And Every Day
The great paradox of our times is most of us live charmed lives, at least when compared to most of humanity throughout the ages, yet we’re more angry, anxious, and depressed than ever before.
For all of our comforts, we continually find reasons to be unhappy and unfulfilled. In many respects, we’ve forgotten just how good we have it.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the world of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs, like many comedians, are an energetic and outgoing group that also has a specific sadness lurking right under the surface.
This sadness is due to what I refer to as hedonic adaptation, commonly referred to as the hedonic treadmill.
The hedonic treadmill describes humanity’s tendency to adapt to positive developments rather quickly, reverting to a baseline level of happiness.
Put another way, the things we desire are never enough. Once we achieve something, it becomes meaningless. Instead, we move on to pursue the next bigger and better thing, coveting the successes of others.
It’s a terrible cycle that leads to pain, fear, and melancholy.
The only way I’ve found to fight against the hedonic treadmill is to practice gratitude, every day.
Doing so helps to keep things in perspective and, most importantly, keeps the dissatisfaction at bay. When you’re grateful and satisfied, regardless of your circumstances, it is reflected in your work, teams, and personal life.
Everyone is different, but I’ve found that three simple meditations can help to uncover the things that I’m genuinely grateful for, no matter what I’m dealing with on the business side of things.
Focus on the things that are given freely
It can be difficult to stave off feelings of jealousy when another entrepreneur seems to have a more natural path, more money, or more popularity. Believe me when I say that the pursuit of success can be all-encompassing.
My single-minded pursuit of success and the accompanying emphasis on recognition has been the source of much of the duress I’ve experienced throughout my life.
Although I’ve achieved much, it never satisfies. Instead, the things that have created lasting happiness are the things money can’t buy: my family, faith, and self-awareness. Whenever I’ve strayed from focusing on these things, I’ve paid the price.
The meditation I’ve developed centers around a single question: If everything you worked for disappeared overnight, as it most certainly can, what would you be left with? What would sustain you should you fail?
Once you answer those questions, recenter your focus on how grateful you are to have those things in your life.
Our circumstances ebb and flow, but the things that are truly important, our friends, family, and faith, are constants. Be grateful for them and look to them for sustenance.
Reflect on the narrative of your entrepreneurial journey
Entrepreneurship is about the act of creation. Relatively few of us can claim that we created something from nothing. Even if your creation isn’t an economic success, the fact that you tried sets you apart.
I often lose sight of just how far I’ve come. It hasn’t always been easy, but everything I’ve experienced throughout my entrepreneurial journey has taught me something.
As Yoda said in The Last Jedi, “The greatest teacher, failure is.” It may be corny, but it is true.
That’s why every day I try to quiet my mind and reflect on my journey. I focus on the good, the bad, and what could have been. Everything, even the most painful of situations, has taught me valuable lessons that have helped me to grow as an entrepreneur, leader, and individual.
For this meditation, think through your journey and try to craft a narrative out of the experience. Focus on your experiences, be they good or bad, and what you’ve learned from them. Then, take time to express gratitude for the education that you’ve gained as a result.
Remember that circumstances can always be worse
My mother used to tell me that in life, there will always be people that are better than you, just as there will always be people who are worse. Recognizing that fact has helped me put things into perspective.
If you’re struggling to find things to be grateful for, just look around. Even at our most desperate hour, things can always be worse.
For my final daily meditation, I practice negative visualization. This consists of thinking through and visualizing how things could be worse.
For example, pretend you’re having a difficult time closing deals at work. This is undoubtedly a difficult situation that, left unchecked, could come to dominate your thinking. However, it isn’t the worst-case scenario. You could find yourself in a situation where you’re unable to even scrounge up a deal at all. You could have a product or service that no one values. So, you should be grateful that your challenges revolve around closing deals and not something even more challenging.
Negative visualization can help you develop a sense of gratitude in even the most dire of situations. No matter what you’re dealing with, things could be worse.
Practice gratitude daily
The act of being grateful for what you have in life takes practice. We must learn to shut out the distractions of modern life and jump off the hedonic treadmill.
This, of course, is easier said than done. Like any mental discipline, gratitude takes time and practice.
Still, if you commit to a daily practice, you’ll see the benefits in your life. You’ll be a happier and more fulfilled person, a more efficient and less emotional leader, and a better resource for your customers.