Change your life… by seeing it.


In 2009 I had the privilege of walking the Kokoda Track with a group of mates. Walking across the 96km long mountain range you can’t help but note the contrast between the modern day beauty and the horrors that our soldiers endured 70 years ago. It leaves an impression that will last forever.

Along with the terrain and history, it is the inhabitants of the track that make you think. Villages of people living in the middle of nowhere, content to grow their food and their family with equal amounts of care. They don’t have much, but for what they have they are extremely grateful.

Like the kids who dragged us up the hill to see their school which had just gotten a new tin roof. How proud they were to have a roof. It completely overshadowed the fact that it only had three walls, no tables and a dirt floor.


They were equally grateful when we gave them a simple balloon to play with.


The level of gratitude didn’t come from the fact that they didn’t have much; it’s just the way they are. They see the positives in life far more easily than we do and in many ways that makes them far richer than we are.

Scientists will tell us that we are 7 times more likely to take note of a negative than a positive. Its why our news and current affairs shows are full of negatives – its because we watch.

The good news is that there is a way to train your brain to see the positives around you.

Each day write down 3 things that you are grateful for. They don’t have to be things like wife/husband, kids, house. They can be moments like a person saying thank you, a smile from a stranger, a pat on the back from the boss, the autumn leaves changing color.

  •  Do this for 21 days and you start to rewire your brain to scan for positives.
  • Do this for 42 days and you will feel reduced levels of anxiety and depression.

Recognising things you are thankful for helps you stay present, to be in tune with what is happening around you right at that moment. To notice things that make you happy.

When we aren’t present our mind fills the space with work, negative conversations and revisits the stresses we are dealing with. How many of you have been at your kid’s sport or concert and can’t remember anything about it because your mind was elsewhere. What an incredible shame that is.

Training your mind to see the positives is like learning a new skill. It takes practice and repetition but the effects can be life changing.

 Note: if you are thankful for another person, tell them. Then two people will be happy instead of one.

This topic is part of our Building Resilience presentation – for more details contact us at here

About the author:

Nathan Burke started his career as a schoolteacher before the demands of elite level football with St Kilda F.C. took over. Following a successful corporate career he founded Nathan Burke Consulting – a Melbourne based firm that offers High Performance training and coaching solutions to corporates, schools and sports teams.