In The Steering Wheel of Your Life, you learned that asking yourself a question is the best way to direct your mind. Of the many ways to talk to yourself, asking a question is the most powerful. Now we're going to investigate some good questions. The first one is, "What am I grateful for?" You can come up with different answers to this question every day, and if you did, you’d be happier, according to the research. One study on gratefulness asked the participants to merely write for five minutes a day in a diary — to write about what they were grateful for. It made them measurably happier, and their improved moods lasted for a considerable time afterward.
Five minutes a day? Why would such a small thing have such a strong impact?
When you ask what you’re grateful for, you are using the power of comparison. To feel grateful for your health you have to compare your state of health to a worse state of health.
Also, your mind has a negative bias. It tends to focus on what’s wrong. The question, "What am I grateful for?" bypasses the negative bias, or uses it to your advantage rather than using it against you.
Ask the question, find an answer, and ask it again. What else are you grateful for? I sometimes do it using a timer. I set the timer for five minutes and write a list of things I am grateful for, and I always feel significantly better. I was at first surprised how easy it was to fill a page with things I'm grateful for. I hardly have to try. I write nonstop, and have a pretty big list at the end of five minutes. This is so simple and so powerful I really urge you to try this one. It’s not work. It’s not a chore. It feels good.
Another variation that works pretty well is: What could I feel great about if I wanted to?
Another variation: What do I appreciate about (a particular person)? This is a good one to write down. When you’re done, give it to the person, or even go so far as to read it to them.
When you would like to direct your mind to something positive, when you would like to feel better, when you would like to be aware of what is great about your life, ask yourself, "What am I grateful for?" It works every time.