Is Gratitude the Greatest Game-Changer We All Need?
Updated: Dec 16, 2022
I take a look at how appreciating what you have can get you where you want to be…
Back at the end of 2020 I, like many others, had hit what I can only describe as an all-time low.
The first lockdown didn’t hit me too hard, considering. The weather was unseasonably good. Although furloughed from my job, I was fortunate to be OK for money. And my daughter, who I’d almost lost to adulthood the previous year, was home with me. We found fun in our days despite everything. The time we shared was precious as we knew it wouldn’t last forever.
But, later that year I went back to my home-based job and my daughter left for University. The days got colder and the nights drew in. My pre-menopausal symptoms worsened. And this ordinarily happy soul experienced the nagging clutches of depression.
Black moods descended on me for no reason. I’d burst into tears, often several times a day. And my partner, who is patient to a fault, was at a loss as to how to help.
I had to do something, and fast, otherwise the consequences didn’t bear thinking about.
Browsing on my phone one dark morning early in the new year of 2021, I spotted an online course.
John Davidson an old friend from my days in amateur dramatics was running it. He had followed his dream to become a psychotherapist. The previous June, he’d launched an online course – ‘YOUniversity’. I’d seen it before, on his Happiness Hacks Facebook page, but I’d never thought about signing up — until now.
Over time I’d become a hoverer. I’d hover around medium, and even small decisions, being fearful of making the wrong one. Often, I’ll avoid them altogether, deferring to someone else. But at least at times when it really mattered, I could still be bold.
That dark cold morning was one of those times. Something intuitive in me knew it was time for a change… I signed up for YOUniversity without hesitation.
From the moment I attended my first seminar I was fascinated. Youniversity made me look at my life from a completely fresh angle.
Scrutinising and questioning habits and ideas I'd seen as 'set in stone' became my normal.
I'd entered the course thinking "I'm not that bad". So I surprised myself with how much more I began to understand about my interactions with others and theirs with me. I started to make subtle changes here and there.
Within a month of showing up for the online sessions every week, I’d undergone a step change. I no longer felt paralysed when trying to make decisions. I was looking at life from a more positive angle, and dare I say – putting myself first?
Of course, the more you learn, the more there is to learn. I’ve never read as much about defining values and setting goals as I have in the past 16 months. Although I read a lot, it wasn’t easy to start deciding what I wanted. I’d buried my ambitions for so long that they took some unearthing.
But one thing I’d had in my mind for years is that I wanted to be my own boss...
Quit the 9 to 5.
Paddle my own canoe.
I knew the why, now all I needed was the how.
I’ve always loved learning, it fires me up. So when another course, this time something completely different, flashed up on my phone screen I followed the prompts and signed up for that too.
‘Write Your Way to Freedom’ is so much more than a copywriting course. Put together and hosted by the incredible Sarah Turner, WYWTF helps those wanting to write copy build sustainable and ethical businesses.
Being totally honest with you, when I’d clicked the payment button I started to ask myself what on earth I’d done. Was I going crazy?
My scarcity mindset kicked in big style. What was I doing paying this much for a course? Even if I am totally obsessed with learning!
But WYWTF promised so much – freedom, self-esteem, helping others… I found it irresistible.
Luckily, the mindset work I’d done in YOUniversity was still doing its job and the first part of Sarah’s course is all about mindset too. So it didn’t take me long to get back on track.
Trust your instincts, trust the process…
It’s all in the books man
As well as my courses, I’ve read books, lots of books. Some of them were great – life-changing even. Others, well, they were unnecessary. You see, I’d gotten myself into another rut. Hiding in the books.
After a few months of hiding, with the encouragement of my peers, and reminding myself to trust the process, I stuck my nose above the parapet. I started to speak to people about what I was trying to do.
The courage I needed to say out loud, “I’m a writer” was unbelievable. And what happened when I did? Well, nothing awful that’s for sure. People accepted it. They asked questions, they read my articles, and they even gave me work!
What was I worrying about?
Learning to believe in myself more, to try harder to listen to my instincts, has changed my life for the better.
And so to gratitude….
At the end of March 2022, I finally broke the last ties with my 9 to 5. It’s taken a little over a year to get to this point. And now I’m the master of my own destiny.
I’m under no illusions that it will be easy going from here. But that’s the point, right?
If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.
As soon as you address one thing, there’s another that needs your attention. My nature and my employee mindset would have me automatically pushing on to the next thing without a backwards glance.
But in a way, I’m glad I read too many books. Because every one of them told me that pushing forward gives you no satisfaction. Unless that is, you turn around every once in a while and take a good look at how far you have come.
Through my hindsight goggles, my dark place was not so dark. I still had so much to be thankful for.
And as for my journey over the past 16 months? Well, there’s no denying that I’m in a far better place now. But it didn’t happen overnight. There have been highs and lows, but the overall trajectory has been up.
Every step I’ve taken toward my goal of working for myself has helped me gain clarity about who I am. I’ve developed an insight into how to improve other areas of my life such as my relationships and how I value time.
Where before I had begun to look at life in black and white, my outlook is now back to full technicolour.
One great exercise I’ve done a couple of times is to write down 50 things I’m grateful for – as suggested by the great David Bach. The first time I tried it, the number seemed huge. “How am I going to have 50 things to be grateful for?”, I thought.
Try it. Start writing and you’ll amaze yourself. Progress may be slow at first, but before you know it you’ll be past 50 and still writing.
It’s a kind of reset for your spirit. Before you know it you’ll be walking around being grateful for all sorts of things you’d forgotten to even notice. Like someone's switched the lights back on.
Today I’m taking time out to be grateful for all the amazing people that have helped me and believed in me over the past 16 months.
You have made it possible for me to get to this point and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
With much love and encouragement,
The Reluctant Achiever
PS. Are you interested to learn more about the courses I’ve mentioned?
Drop me an email or check out the links below:
NB. I am an affiliate of the Write Your Way to Freedom Programme and as such may earn from qualifying purchases you make at no extra cost to you.
The Reluctant Achiever is written by professional copywriter Wendy Ann Jones.