Gratitude No Matter What

It’s been a weird week.  Holidays tend to get in the way of other things sometimes and we had a few things pop up to throw monkey wrenches into the works.  My Mother-in-Law had a little stint in the hospital this week and that required immediate attention and schedule adjustment.  On Thanksgiving Day I managed to put a deep cut on my hand that required 7 stitches at the Emergency Room and that also threw our schedule way off.  To be fair, I did get a blog post done as a guest on another blog (Linked2Leadership, see it here) but not much here.

I mention this not to excuse myself, but rather as a reflection.  Because you see despite all the disturbances in our week, the family was able to spend time together and to celebrate Thanksgiving and share a large, very filling meal.  Rather than harp on the inconveniences, we instead focus on the good and positive things that happened.

That’s what gratitude is all about.  Gratitude in practically the ultimate in positive thinking.  It doesn’t ignore the fact that there are problems, it doesn’t disregard that we are not where we wish to be or who we wish to be, it rejoices in what we have been blessed with so far, no matter how big or small.  That in turns gives us hope and leaves us open to possibilities.  It’s not turning a blind eye to our lack, it is opening our eyes to what is.

The Healing Power of Gratitude

Gratitude produces a healing power and, even more so, an almost miraculous circumstance of making better things happened.   Norman Vincent Peale discovered this in his own journey dealing with some very persistent issues in his life.  He observed

[snaptweet]In some unfathomable way, the acknowledgment of past blessings seems to be the activator of blessings.[/snaptweet]

When he focused on gratitude for how he was blessed in the past and blessed in the present, he found more blessings arriving his way.

Gratitude or Lack?

Too often, we have a lack mentality.  We focus too much on what we don’t have, what we haven’t accomplished, the traits we were shorted, the things we were denied.  The more we keep our minds fixed on what we don’t have, the more we tend to believe that not only do we not have it but we don’t deserve it.  We also close our minds to any circumstance around us that may provide an opportunity to change things.   We close things out and instead draw all of our focus strictly on what we lack.  We project into every other circumstance.  We can’t have, we can’t do, we can’t be because we lack money, because we lack skills, because we lack the right situation or timing or luck.  We then ignore opportunities, resources, and situations the present themselves to help us dig out of that pit.

There is the old story of a flood that hits a town.  One man, finding the water rising so high, climbs up on the roof of his house and prays to God to save him.  “Lord, please,” he says, ” just rescue me from this desperate situation!”  After a short-time, a neighbor comes by in a canoe and tells him, “I’ve got room!  Climb in and let’s get to safety!”  The man tells him, “No, I’m waiting for God to save me!”  The water continues to rise up the roof, almost covering it.  A woman comes along in boat and says, “Let me help you.  Get in and let’s go before the water gets much higher!”  The man says, “No, I am waiting for God to save me!”  Eventually, the water has covered the roof completely and is so high it is up to his knees.  A helicopter flies in overhead and a voice on a megaphone says, “I’ll lower a ladder!  You can climb up to safety!”  The man refuses, “God is going to save me!”  The water rises to his chest now and in desperation he cries out, “Lord, I asked you to save me!  Now I’m doomed!  All is lost!  Why haven’t you helped me?”  A voice booms out, “I sent you a canoe, a boat, and a helicopter.  What more do you want!”

Gratitude Out Loud

Gratitude, when properly practiced, becomes a way of life and a way of thinking.  Instead of lack mentality is promotes abundance mentality.  Some would call it pollyannaish.  I gladly accept that definition.  If you have ever seen the movie, Pollyanna DID make positive things happen around her.  What’s wrong with that?  The proper practice of gratitude is to engage in it daily.  Waiting until the holidays to express gratitude or waiting until one day a week in your church, temple, or mosque to express gratitude is not the appropriate application.  That’s called ritual.  What we want is authentic, heart-felt thankfulness for how your life has been blessed and how others have influenced you positively.  In fact, the key to effective gratitude is to remember that gratitude is loud and persistent.  The more often you promptly proclaim your thanksgiving and the more openly your share it, the more blessings multiply and opportunities appear and actions yield results.

[snaptweet]The key to effective gratitude is to remember that gratitude is loud and persistent.[/snaptweet]

The way many people accomplish this is by keeping a gratitude journal.  Use a notebook that your carry with you, or use a technology option like Evernote or Penzu, and each day (preferably first thing in the morning) record at least one thing for which you are thankful.  It has to be something different each day.  Do that for at least 30 days.  The first few days will be fairly easy but after that you will have to think about it more.  And that’s the idea; you want to spend more time discovering what really does exist in your life as a blessing.

The thing is, a gratitude journal is great for you, but I am a big believer in doing things that not only benefit you but provide value for others as well.  With that in mind, a few weeks ago I initiated the Gratitude Live Project.  Beginning earlier in November, I invited a select group to join me in the project up until Thanksgiving Day.  Each day, each participant would contact someone who had a positive influence in their life and thank them for it.  But it wasn’t enough to just say thank you, they had to be very specific about how and why that person influenced them positively.  The results were overwhelmingly positive!  Everyone found it not only made them more mindful of how others have influenced their life, but the recipients of the gratitude found felt better and more important; they felt like they made a difference!  Project members reported the revival and strengthening of relationships!  It went so well, I have decided to continue the project indefinitely, but modified out to a weekly instead of daily practice.

Just think, one small expression of gratitude making huge differences in people’s lives.  That’s how gratitude makes things happen!

Action Plan

  • Start your own gratitude journal, beginning today and through to the rest of the year at least.  Each day, first thing in the morning (including weekends), write down ONE THING for which you are grateful.  Note how your attitude changes and how your connections with others changes as well.
  • Join me in the Gratitude Live Project.  Make a difference in not just your life, but the lives of others as well.  There is no charge for this.  Click the link to begin.