Practicing Gratitude


I Study a lot of personal development concepts. Perhaps the most simplistic and surprising discovery I have made is the enormous power of actively “practicing gratitude”.  Some of you may be thinking, “yea, yea… be grateful… I’ve heard it before… I’m grateful.”  Although “being grateful” is a good thing, it completely misses the life changing power of “practicing gratitude’.

By practicing gratitude, I mean setting aside a 5 to 10 minute block of time and immersing yourself in thoughts of gratitude. This could be in the form of prayer, or meditation, or simply a quiet solitude thinking session. Try as hard as you can to do nothing but think about things you are grateful for. Small things, like your favorite food or something you enjoy. Big things, like health and family and friends. Nature things, like sunshine or the wind.  Personal things, like your job, a talent, or an opportunity you have.

The key here is to immerse yourself. Keep out any distracting thoughts or interruptions. Let the gratitude fill your mind, body, and soul. Be receptive to how your body feels as you concentrate on being thankful. Allow the feeling of gratitude to consume you. Think it and feel it. When you are done with your 5 to 10 minute session, you will have changed your state of mind.

I have found that it is impossible to feel angry or worried or depressed when you are feeling grateful. The mind cannot think these opposite thoughts at the same time, and more importantly, the body cannot feel these opposite feelings at the same time. When I am stressed out and at my wits end, instead of acting out in frustration and anger, I try to remember this exercise. It has never failed me; though sometime I don’t remember this exercise soon enough! That’s where habit comes in. Why not make practicing gratitude a daily habit.  Tony Robbins starts every single morning with a “priming” session that begins with thinking of three things he is grateful for.  Robbins explains the reasons he starts with gratitude is because of its ability to overpower the dangerous emotions that can sidetrack us. Those emotions are fear and anger. Robbins says, “you can’t be grateful and fearful simultaneously, and you can’t be angry and grateful simultaneously. They don’t go together.”

The benefits of practicing gratitude extend from psychological to physical. Dr. Robert Emmons a leading psychologist, has studied the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude definitively increases happiness and decreases depression, by actually reducing multiple unhealthy emotions from envy and resentment, to frustration and regret.  Further, a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky found those who ranked higher on gratitude scales, experienced more sensitivity and empathy towards other people and were less likely to retaliate or seek revenge against others, even when provoked. A 2014 study by the Journal of Applied Sports Psychology found that gratitude increases personal self-esteem. The study found that grateful people are able to appreciate other peoples’ accomplishments, rather than becoming resentful or jealous towards others– a key component in increasing one’s own self esteem. Finally, a 2012 study titled “Personality and Individual Differences”, found that grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report an overall healthier feeling. It also found grateful people were more likely to take care of their health by exercising more, eating healthier and receiving regular checkups–contributing to their longevity and quality of life.

 Here’s what I want you to take away from this:

There is a very simple and scientifically proven method to change your state of mind. By taking 5 to 10 minutes and actively practicing gratitude you can change your life for the better.  The benefits of this are increased well-being, both psychologically and physically. You can positively impact your mood and your health by making this a daily habit.

Gratefully yours, Iron Mike Stone 11-23-2017

What is Your BULLSHIT Story



People often ask me about why I study personal development– ‘what does it have to offer’, they ask. What they really want to know is the magic 30 second short cut. Of course, like anything worthwhile, there is no magic short cut. We struggle. We learn. We forget. We try.

And that is what matters- we try to be better.  Better at what?  That’s different for every person in the world.  Better at whatever we, as individuals, want.   Because if we don’t try,  what the hell is the point?

If I did, however, have a magic 30 second short cut, it would have something to do with our thoughts– the thoughts we tell ourselves about– ourselves.  The thoughts that are the “story” we believe about who we are.

What is Your Story

What is an area of your life you are happy or pleased with? When your life conditions match the “Blue Print” or the “Story” about how you believe life is supposed to be.  You experience satisfaction.

What is an area of your life you are not happy or pleased with? When your life conditions do not match the “Blue Print” or “Story” about how you believe life is supposed to be. You experience pain.

When your “story” about life does not match your results and you feel you have no control to change it. You feel helpless. You experience suffering.

Three options:

  1. Blame something— an event, someone else, yourself. Very unhealthy and destructive.
  2. Change your life— change something– get a new career, relationship, place to live, etc.
  3. Change your Blue Print— Change the story you tell yourself. Make a shift!


You Can Do Anything!

You Can Do Anything!

1886 – Carl Benz  invented the first automobile

 I have recently been working my way through several new ventures. Anytime we try something new there is a natural hesitation that can develop. Trying something new requires some level of courage. We often can feel nervous because we are not sure what to expect. We worry if we will succeed or if we will fail. Will we embarrass ourselves? What will others Think of us? These concerns are actually common even when we try to accomplish anything—even when it’s not something new. Just the mere act of trying to accomplish something can make us feel like we are not in control and that can be pretty scary.

 During this recent activity on a new project, when I was showing some hesitation, someone said to me, “You’re Iron Mike—you can do anything”. Although I generally think of myself as a disciplined self-starter who doesn’t need a push, I have to tell you the sincere encouragement went a long way. It energized me to persevere with a new determination. It helped me to believe in myself. It also got me thinking about encouragement.

Support: Tolerate or Encourage

 We all probably think we support the people we care about and associate with, but what does supporting someone really look like? And what is the critical role we can play when we are in a position to support someone with their endeavors? More often than not, when we attempt to support someone, we actually end up simply tolerating them and their attempt to achieve a goal by not interfering with them or by trying to stop them. We might even try to be polite by asking about their endeavors and by trying to keep our negative comments to ourselves. This is a big mistake and a missed opportunity to make an incredible difference. What we are missing is the critical role we can play when we are in a position to support someone in achieving their goals. One of the greatest things you can do for someone is help them live up to their highest unique potential. Whether we realize it or not, we automatically influence the people we associate with and care about with everything we say and do. Why not make a conscious and deliberate effort to influence them in a more powerful and positive way?

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up”  Thessalonians 5:11

 How can you encourage and build up your friends, associates, and loved ones? Here are a few tips:

Believe in them— We all have self doubts and lack faith in our abilities from time to time. It is amazing what can happen when someone believes in you, even when you don’t.

Cheer them— You can do it, I know you can! Remember when you did this… Said sincerely it is empowering.

Expect a lot from them— Many times when a parent, teacher, spouse, or friend expects more of us– we find a way to raise our standards and do more than we thought we were capable of.

Provide Vision to them— Sometime we don’t see our own potential. Help the dream bigger dreams.

I always remember the inspiring story of Bertha Benz and the profound encouragement she gave her husband Carl Benz. Despite his many repeated failures, Bertha constantly pushed him to trust in his abilities to make his vision of a “vehicle powered by a gas engine” come true. She believed in him even, when he lost belief in himself, helping him through numerous difficult times. With every challenge she encouraged him to try harder and harder. Although his invention received a great deal of attention and enthusiasm, it was not an economic success. At one point Carl Benz was beset with doubts that it could ever become commercially viable and was about to give up. Unbeknownst to her husband, Bertha believed in him so much that she decided to take the car on a long distance publicity road trip, the pioneering trip proved to the world that the vehicle was suitable for everyday use. Her unending belief in him and his capabilities resulted in Benz & Company becoming the leading producer of automobiles at the turn of the century.

Here’s what I want you to take away from this:

 Whether we realize it or not, with everything we do and say,  we are influencing the people we care about. We play a vital supporting role for these people. Encouragement is empowerment, and it comes in two parts.  First is pointing out what you believe is possible for the other person. Second is challenging them to succeed at it despite inevitable setbacks. Tell them what you believe they can do, and challenge them to do it. This is much more than motivation, because you can motivate anyone, but you can only encourage someone you truly believe in—and therein lies the power. It requires you to get  very specific and encourage them to try to do some precise activity that you think they are capable of. “I think you’d be good at this” or “You can do that”. Then give them a little direction and guidance– here’s how you should try it.  Behind most every successful person are people who said to them, you should try this—I think you can do it– I think you would be great at it—and here’s how you should try it!

When you step up and encourage someone you change the way they perceive themselves and their abilities. This allows them to go farther than they alone could have imaged. This will massively change their life– and your life, for the better!

-Iron Mike Stone 11.10.17




How much time do you spend thinking? It’s kind of an odd question and it’s one you may not have “thought” about much.  Certainly, if you’re like most people, you have a constant flow of thoughts, ideas, responsibilities, worries and the like racing through your mind at all times.  This is not at all what I’m referring to.  I’m referring to time spent by yourself in quiet, reflective, and deliberate thought.

I have started to become more aware of my “thinking” as I have been writing more. The more I write, the more time I find I have to first spend thinking.  It actually has become my favorite part of writing- an opportunity to let my mind wander in any direction. Even in writing this simple blog post, I took three or four times the amount of time thinking about it, then I did in the actual amount of time writing it.  I have also been adding more “thinking time” into my businesses. I am finding I am able to make better decisions and see more opportunities than I did when I was constantly busy multi-tasking.

Time spent thinking, with no boundaries or parameters opens up the mind to new possibilities. When our minds are cluttered with an active to-do list of things, we crowd out the creative side of ourselves. By actually allowing ourselves to think freely, we break away from limited thinking. New ideas, perspectives, possibilities are able to flow to the top. Almost magically, new solutions present themselves once our mind is freed to simply think and reflect. Sometimes we can try to think of a solution to a problem logically for hours on end, but when we finally let go and let our mind wander, inspiration can strike seemingly out of the blue. 

All Minds that wander are not lost.

In recent years, numerous business executives have gone on record about how essential thinking time is. Warren Buffet, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, and arguably the savviest investors of our time, estimates he has spent 80% of his time reading and thinking. His partner, Charles Munger, says that’s how Warren created such a great business— “he had a lot of time to think about it”.

Mr. Buffet is not alone. Many other great business leaders spend many hours just thinking.  In fact, many of them set side time in their schedules for nothing but thinking.  Brian Scudamore, founder and CEO of 1-800-got-junk, often spends his Mondays wondering around his home town of Vancouver. He meanders through coffee shops, sits on a park bench, walks in the forest or heads to the beach. This day of thinking sets himself up for a productive week ahead. 

Jack Dorsey, CEO of two fortune 500 companies, Square and Twitter is famous for wandering around, lost in thought. Bill Gates, of Microsoft fame, was known for taking two weeks a year of to think. Tim Armstrong CEO of AOL makes himself and his executive team commit to four hours a week of just thinking time. In fact, a recent study of CEO’s revealed a majority of them spend 20% of their time alone- much of it in thought.

Here’s what I want you to take away from this:

Time spent doing nothing but being alone and thinking is time well spent.

Here are a few suggestions to help you implement this. Schedule thinking time right into your calendar, be it one day a week or just a few hours a day. Make it a habit and stick with it.  Get yourself out of your office or home and venture out to new locations and place. Like many CEO’s you’ll likely find it a wonderful source of creative inspiration.

 –Iron Mike Stone 11.2.17