08/02/2014 05:21 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Relabeling Your Way to Start Practicing Grateful Living


You and I know that there are literally hundreds of reasons to be grateful for. But, in your busy life, it is something that is easy to forget and move to the other end of the spectrum where you start taking things for granted.

Brands Make it Complex

Think about it -- we are bombarded with advertisements from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed.

What is the fundamental premise of an ad?

It is to seduce you to buy their product or service. If they have to do that they have to have a narrative that will showcase why you should be discontent with the status quo (status quo is not having their product or service) and how you will be delighted when the status quo changes (change here means you getting sucked into buying their product or service)

Since you are exposed to literally hundreds of ads throughout the day AND these ads are created by experts, some narratives are bound to catch your attention. Once that happens, the focus is on the discontent and the quest to quell it rather than focusing on gratitude for what and who you already have in your life.

Social Media Makes it More Complex

Social media (e.g.: Facebook) is a place where people surface their "best moments of life" in general. If you have a thousand friends, you can safely assume that at least 10 of them will be celebrating something on a particular day (party, travel, achievement etc.) and they will post their celebratory photographs to share those moments. Tomorrow comes and 10 other people in your circle may be celebrating something else. The same logic applies for day after tomorrow.

The problem?

If you lose perspective, you can easily assume that every day a large part of your network is celebrating something or the other and for some reason GOD left you out of the always-on-party in this world.

Again, when the focus shifts to "Why Me?" or "Why Not Me?" it is hard to pay attention to things and people in your life that are to be grateful for.

The 80-20 Rule Applies Everywhere

You and I are not in a Utopian world and things do happen in life where you are a victim of circumstances. Bad things happen to good people too. If that is 20 percent of the time, it can't bring your mood down 80 percent of the time.

Relabeling: Gifts or Lessons

What if you start relabeling everything and everyone around you as a gift or a lesson?

Imagine living everyday either welcoming those gifts or learning from the lessons.

Actually, let's look at it from the other way -- what if you don't?

When you don't follow the "gifts or lessons" mental model, you will start seeing more problems, issues, concerns and roadblocks. You go on a rabbit hole of finding who to blame for what is happening to you. When the entire attention is there, where is the time to notice and acknowledge the dozens of gifts that are coming your way every day?

Let's assume that the 80-20 rule is at play and we are focusing on 80 percent of the situations. You have only two labels at hand -- the situation is a
1. Gift or
2. Lesson

You are forced to assign one of the above two labels. Try this for a few days and you will notice that you are starting to notice gifts more often AND you are learning a lot more. This magic happens because of the power of the moods. The gift or the lesson label will you automatically set you up in a celebratory mood or in the mood of wonder.

Related Reading: The Forgotten List