The trick to quickly mastering any skill is to pick one crucial aspect of that skill to focus on like a maniac before moving on to your next one thing, and so on.
For instance, many of us know that the word “but” (as in “Yeah, but”) screws up communications.
It negates what that person just said and means you basically end up throwing your words all over their self-defenses.
Notice this week that nearly every time you say “but” you could have easily said “and,” and just by changing this one word how much better you are at keeping people on side.
Changing this one small aspect of your language can have a massive impact.
All skills are the same.
The Hardest Skill To Master
In my lifetime I’ve learned an endless number of skills, but none have been so hard to master as the skill of thinking.
That’s the skill of getting beyond those old habitual ways of thinking that your biology and society conditioned into you, and choosing the thoughts that you want to live by.
So instead of say reading the news and seeing the world through crap-covered glasses, this skill involves stepping outside of the fear-based social reality, and living in your own reality.
As we cover all the time together, the skill of getting what you want mostly comes down to this skill of thinking.
To get what you want, you must first cultivate the optimism to dream it up. To get yourself to go after that goal, you must believe it is possible. To keep persisting, you must become more resilient, and so on.
Cultivating these types of thoughts isn’t easy to do, but again, you make it easier by choosing one thing to focus on like a maniac, before moving onto another.
A Top Of The Tree Practice
To find the one thing that matters most to mastering a skill, you want to keep moving up the tree of knowledge to define what has the most impact.
For instance, if you were teaching someone to play tennis, before you teach them to master serving and volleying, you might begin by having them hit thousands of forehands.
With that skill down, you can add all the fancy bells and whistles.
Similarly, while there are millions of hacks and other random ideas for training your thinking (e.g. “Just think positive, man…”) if you follow these ideas all the way to the top of the tree, you discover a small number that matter most.
Whether it be about happiness. Or success. Or manifesting your reality. Or having great relationships. Or simply living a fuller life, the literature is full of gratitude.
The skill of thinking comes down to mastering those things that have the most intellectual and emotional resonance, of which being grateful might be the highest power.
Just for a moment think of this mess in Houston—the media will diligently share thousands of pictures of how bad it is, tell us hundreds of sad stories about people and animals suffering, build up a sense of anger by allocating blame, and of course fan the global warming fight.
What emotional resonance does that have? All pretty crappy, right? And while your brain gets sucked into the vortex of this one tragedy today (they’ll be another tomorrow), your brain will run out of space to be grateful for all the amazing things in your life.
Without you thinking about it, your brain gets hijacked to fuel the media business and spread misery to everyone else.
But how does Houston directly impact you? How do any of the tragedies the media is paid to broadcast actually affect your life?
Few, But All
Fact is, nearly 100% of the negative stuff that gets broadcast every day has zero direct bearing on your life, until…
You choose to make that your reality. You can be going on living your amazing life, but once you start thinking about these crappy things that bring down your emotional state you get stuck in that miserable noise that most the world thrives on.
Some say it’s callous or uninformed to not wreck your day by fixating on all the suffering of the world, but surely the most callous thing we can do is to so flagrantly disrespect those in suffering by not being grateful for what is amazing in our own lives.
Unless we’re actually going to do something to help those in suffering, the best we can do is to be grateful for what we have, and to be a source of good emotions for others.
Being grateful we prime the pump.
Rather than reminding ourselves of the “bad” things in our lives, we constantly remind ourselves of all that we have to be grateful for.
How Easy Is It To Be Grateful?
Two reasons being grateful is a top of the tree practice is because it feels so good, and it’s so easy to do.
Think about it for a moment. If you put on your grateful hat, how many things can you be grateful for in your life? Really?
When you start to stack it up you find it’s actually hard to find things not to be grateful for.
In fact, even every setback or tragedy you can see as an opportunity to remind yourself of all the other things you have to be grateful for in your life.
You could spend months whining about a broken leg, or be grateful that unlike say Stephen Hawking, you have the use of your limbs.
Choose Just One
Now having thought more generally about being grateful, pick just one thing in your life to be grateful for.
It might be your family. It might be your health. It might be your pet. It might be your home, work, car, shoes, whatever…
Just start to think about this one thing, and really go deep into the feeling of being grateful. Ask yourself questions like, “Why am I grateful for this?” and “How can I feel even more grateful?” and really build up that feeling of being grateful for your life.
Just thinking about this holiday weekend might be enough to get you looking back on a great summer, or looking forward to having this special time with your friends and family.
Whatever it is for you, look for things to be grateful for in your life, and they are everywhere to be found.
Make This A Daily Practice
If you’re serious about mastering your thinking and wiring your brain for more love, happiness, success, and just about everything else, make gratitude a daily practice.
You do this by writing it down in your daily exercises, and then every day practicing this skill.
Just five minutes a day will have a huge impact on your life.
If it seems like a stretch to find those five minutes a day, you might start to think about the hours of negative programming that most of us spend our days consuming, and imagine what it would be like to replace that worry, fear, sadness, pessimism, etc. with hours of amazing thinking.
How might you feel different every day? How might your life be different? Instead of promoting the tragedy of the world, by being grateful how might you spread amazing emotions to everyone around you?