So we’ve seen many ‘challenges’ over the internet doing the rounds in the last few years or so. There has been the likes of the Ice Bucket Challenge, The Harlem Shake and The Cinnamon Challenge. All very good fun, except from maybe the last one. And you have to acknowledge the one that arguably started them all off: planking.
Today I propose you a new challenge. The 1 Day Extreme Gratitude Challenge.
While the 1 Day Extreme Gratitude doesn’t appear anywhere near as exciting as the others or have the same ring to it as Harlem Shake, it is a challenge that I believe will have more benefits to your mental health and view of the world than any other challenge might bring. Including lying down in a supermarket freezer shelf. The best thing is that it can be done from the comfort of your own home, on your way to work or as a part of any aspect of your daily routine.
The struggle ends when the gratitude begins
If you’re a fairly regular practictioner of gratitude, then you will already know of its importance in its ability to give you a better perspective of your problems. Not just making your problems seem like the feeble things that they usually are, but also a greater appreciation for the things you have, the people you love and the world as a whole.
To be grateful is to remember the sacrifices that others have made and are making for you. Whether that be your parents who sacrificed so much to bring you what you have now or some of the people that you never even met who quite literally died to give you some aspect of what you enjoy right now. It is so easy in the modern world of interconnectedness to overvalue what you see other people have (or at least what you perceive that they have) and undervaluing what you have. I fall victim to this all of the time.
But how does one use gratitude to avoid this sort of situation from happening? There is one extreme but very effective way of doing it that I try to use as often as I can.
Imagine you lose something that means a lot to you. Sometimes you don’t even realise it means a lot to you. Then picture getting it back again.
Everyone has experienced getting a sore throat and that when every time you swallow, it feels like someone is cutting the inside of your throat with a sharp knife. I don’t know about you but when I find myself in that sorry situation, I usually think ‘I will never take swallowing for granted again, just please let me swallow again in peace.’ Of course, it feels amazing when it does finally let up but you quickly forget what it was like to have a sore throat. That’s how humans work and that’s how gratitude works.
If you can take it a step further, try visualising losing a limb or losing someone important in your life that you have right now. Then combine that with the thought of someone that you have lost and remember that you would probably do anything to hug them one more time or having one more conversation with them. It’s not an easy visualisation to do, that’s for sure. But the next time you find yourself with a little bit of peace and quiet, it is something well-worth doing. It will help open up the path to real gratitude in your life.
The Extreme Gratitude Challenge
This idea came from a podcast I listened to with A.J. Jacobs on the Tim Ferriss Show. He talked about (and completed!) the idea of ‘1000 Thank Yous’ where he would thank personally every single individual that was involved in the moment that led up to him enjoying his morning coffee. From the barista, to the coffee bean farmer, to the truck driver, to the person who invented the cardboard sleeve that stops you from burning your hand. Everyone. This is an example of extreme gratitude and he travelled all of over the world to do it. The experiment truly blew me away and you can read more about it here.
For this challenge, you don’t need to travel all over the world. You don’t even need to disrupt your normal routine. It is called the 1 Day Extreme Gratitude Challenge because it is a challenge to practice extreme gratitude for a day.
Start with what you can and then slowly build it up until you are doing it as often as you remember. I’m certainly not there yet, remembering to do it in the hurriedness of modern life is the hardest part but it is coming and it is definitely worth it.
Here is a little snippet into my own 1 Day Extreme Gratitude Challenge:
Wake Up – grateful for waking up, grateful for the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead in the day.
Gym – grateful for exercise and being able to battle and win against some sort of resistance. After various injuries, grateful just to be moving freely and in ways I was meant to move.
Shower– grateful to have clean, hot, running water at my command. Grateful for the people that put the system in place. Grateful for the invention of showers (SO good). Grateful for those most likely putting their lives at risk on rigs trying to extract the energy so I can have a hot shower. Then also grateful for the cold shower when I turn it cold. Grateful for all of the health benefits that it brings me (that I am still learning about).
Meal time – grateful for the farmer that grew the onions and mushrooms I am eating and the driver who brought them to the supermarket. Grateful for the animal that lived a good life and died to end up on my plate (this is key in a world where we are becoming increasingly disconnected from our food and its sources.) Also thankful for plates and knives and forks which are actually extremely useful when you think about it.
My phone – both my access to the world’s knowledge over countless generations of suffering, mistakes, triumph and learning as well as being an addictive menace. Also my meme and funny video supplier. Grateful for all of the functions that it serves me.
Family and friends – grateful for being surrounded by awesome people, who pick me up when I’m down and inspire me to become a better version of myself. Grateful for the experiences that have shaped them and grateful that we have met each other and interact regularly. Despite it being impossibly likely that we would have ever met in the first place.
And last but not least, thank you reader, for being a part of this blog and the amazing community that we are creating here. I am already grateful for what the bright future holds for us.
Now it’s your turn! Have a go at the 1 Day Extreme Gratitude Challenge, share it with someone you are thankful for and let’s get that gratitude train rolling!
P.S. I want to hear from you and your results from the challenge! What is the most insane thing that you managed to find and be grateful for that otherwise you would never have even thought twice about?