Travel. Beauty everywhere. People…everywhere. Regular freakouts about visas, accommodation, activities. Never ending thought processes.
You’ve launched a new business. A new challenge. A chance to push yourself into new levels of personal achievement. Regular freakouts about what decisions to make and what direction to go in. At this point, a ‘gratitude attitude’ sinks to the bottom of the pile and the Nomad Blues sets in.
Things like these which were once add ons to your life, become a part of your new ‘normal’. But like many things, they tend to lose their sparkle. Before you know it, what you once revered, you now resent. Getting to that place is dangerous because it’s an open door to frustration, and frustration…is often the place where bad decisions start.
So how do you continue to live life in a state of gratitude, where things are always new, fresh and exciting? In fact why even bother? Keep reading to get the lowdown on maintaining your gratitude attitude as a digital nomad.
What is gratitude?
In a nutshell, gratitude is described as “the quality of being thankful and/or a readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” When you think about it like that…basically gratitude is as much a character trait as being gentle, or being organised or diligent. It goes beyond just having good manners. It’s a way of being.
Why build a ‘Gratitude Attitude’?
The short answer is…
It’s good for you.
Berkeley University did a study on some of their students who had signed up to receive mental health support. The group was split into three sub-groups. One group were required to detail all of their negative experiences. One group were required to write a letter of gratitude to someone. The final group were not required to write anything down.
After 12 weeks, it was found that the group who wrote letters of gratitude to another person improved the state of their mental health more than the other two groups. This effect on the brain was felt even if the letter wasn’t sent to the intended person.
Why was this?
The study found that exercising the quality of gratitude in one’s life helped the participants to shake off toxic emotions. So it has a temporary effect of changing a person’s state. But here’s where it gets interesting.
When the participants continued to take part in this exercise, the folks that operated in a state of gratitude via the writing of letters were able to produce lasting, positive effects on the brain. They set in motion a cycle of gratitude that had the potential to continue to pay dividends in the future in terms of maintaining a good state of mental health. It was also easy to recognise things to be grateful for the more they did it.
In short, being grateful is exceedingly good for your health. So what are some easy ways to make a conscious effort to cultivate this quality in your everyday life?
What tips can you give to help me think in this way?
Tell a New Tale
Use the power of transformative language to change the way your brain thinks about situations, projects and smaller tasks. Anthony Robbins in ‘Awaken the Giant Within’ talks a lot about how the language we use in everyday life has a huge impact on how we view the world around us. If you’re feeling pretty negative and disappointed, and you know that there isn’t necessarily a good reason for it, keep tabs on what you’ve been saying recently and the manner in which you’ve been saying it.
If what you’ve been saying about your lifestyle is largely negative, your brain will grow to help you despise it. The brain’s job is to keep you safe, and if you programme it to believe that being a digital nomad is bad, eventually you’ll find yourself talked out of continuing.
So tell a different story.
Think back to the days of when you first started. How nothing was more exciting than booking that flight. Take all of that positive feeling and how grateful you felt to be able to experience the joys this world has to offer. How every new building blew your mind, and every tasty ice cream you had along the way tasted like heaven and pure human ingenuity in every bite. See? You’re already smiling! I know I am!
You’ve been working for a long time on taking ownership for everything else, so take ownership of the narrative of your life. Reframe it in such a way that the excitement is never ending and every challenge is a new way for you to show yourself and the world what you’re made of. Be thankful for that presence of mind and the gratitude attitude will quickly spread into every area of your life, lifting your spirits in even the very darkest moments.
So watch your own mouth. Be conscious about what you say about the steps you need to take to achieve your dreams and love your life. This mindset is like a muscle…you gotta work it out!
Keep a Gratitude Diary
Keep notes about your life. Or take pictures. Whatever works for you. But document your journey. It helps you remind yourself of how you are developing as a person. If you have a record of your life, you’ll be able to see that although there are dips and troughs, you’re actually progressing overall. There are many different markers for progressing so don’t tie yourself down to just the conventional metrics.
The recording of your life’s journey becomes a treasure trove of motivation and thankfulness and a great way to keep you in an attitude of gratitude.
You’ll be able to remember in great detail, how scared you were about paddleboarding in the sea, but you did it anyway. What about that time when you camped out under the stars or watched the world go by from the window of a little cafe in Bali? Or the faces of your family and friends when you surprised them with a visit at Christmas? Then there’s the time you launched your first product or closed your first client…it was such a lot of work but so worth it!
Look there you go, you’re smiling AGAIN!
Be around Grateful People
Sometimes though, you can be so down in the dumps that you need your friends to remind you of all the good stuff that’s happening. At this point, the people you’ve chosen to have around you really come into their own. They remind you to be grateful and their attitude gives you the extra boost you need sometimes to shift your focus and change your perspective.
So choose your friends wisely and limit incessant complainers. Not only is their narrative destroying their chances of being all they could be, but they are also dragging you down at the same time and either teaching you bad habits, or keeping you in your bad habits.
Nobody has time for that.
A gratitude attitude is good for you, it’s good for others and is a reasonably overlooked, but integral partner in keeping you balanced as you live this nomadic life. Don’t dismiss it, or take this particular quality for granted. If you master it, the quality of gratitude will change your life, your travels and your work.