Gratitude is one of the most powerful leadership tools I know. Create a practice of noticing and expressing gratitude – no matter what your situation – and you create the possibility for big impact and joy.
This week has been full of strong messages to me about gratitude – wonderful reminders and affirmation of the life I’m curating as I help leaders who are facing a crossroad moment curate their dream careers and lives.
I’m writing this on my way back home on the train with my sister, after spending a few days with mom in San Diego. My heart is full as I continue to set an intention to be as supportive a sister as my sister is for me. Showing my gratitude through my actions. That intention continues to organically build upon itself in wonderful ways.
Yesterday, I felt joy as two strangers gave my mom a gift by choosing to change their plans; inviting us in to the two homes where my mom grew up! They each sensed the importance of the moment and stopped what they were doing. They’ve inspired me to look for ways to help others – even when not “convenient” or planned.
But showing gratitude isn’t only for the “good” parts. Character is grown in all of life’s moments, and how we choose to re-act. Choosing gratitude can feel like a leap of faith, or a courageous act.
When our son was in hospital battling brain lymphoma I was shocked, scared (and a wide range of other emotions), and every day I created a list of all the things I was grateful for. I remember how hard that exercise was that first morning in the cancer ward. But by the end of the 3rd day, my list was long as I became more and more aware. That daily practice has served me well.
In relationships, I’ve learned that our brains cannot hold two opposing thoughts/feelings at the same time. i.e. we get to choose whether we think and feel “You really annoy me” vs “I’m grateful for how you x or y.” Being willing to choose gratitude will in some cases require us to let go of many things, like fear, anger, resentment, and other limiting beliefs. There may be feelings of vulnerability. It’s okay. The payoff is significant.
Creating Your Personal Gratitude Process
STEP 1: Giving Thanks
During the Thanksgiving Holiday in North America, many of us will be expressing our thanks. Instead of waiting until you’re sitting at the table, I invite you to begin now by asking: what am I thankful for today? And why?
STEP 2: Showing/Embodying Gratitude
What are the actions you will take to show your gratitude today? Why?
- “Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.” – Henri Frederic Amiel
STEP 3: Observing and Building Momentum Notice and Observe what happens to others when you show your gratitude. How does the other person feel and how do you know?
What happens to you when you show your gratitude? How do you feel? Why?
- “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” – Willie Nelson
- “If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.” — Rabbi Harold Kushner
More Gratitude Wisdom
- “Gratitude turns what we have into enough.” – Anonymous
- “Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie
- “Gratitude will shift you to a higher frequency, and you will attract much better things.” – Rhonda Byrne“
- “Being thankful is not always experienced as a natural state of existence, we must work at it, akin to a type of strength training for the heart.” – Larissa Gomez
- “Today I choose to live with gratitude for the love that fills my heart, the peace that rests within my spirit, and the voice of hope that says all things are possible.” – Anonymous
- “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” – Thornton Wilder
- “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey
- “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy
- “I looked around and thought about my life. I felt grateful. I noticed every detail. That is the key to time travel. You can only move if you are actually in the moment. You have to be where you are to get where you need to go.” – Amy Poehler
- “Gratitude for the present moment and the fullness of life now is the true prosperity.” – Eckhart Tolle
- “Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.” – Aesop
- “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” – William Arthur Ward
I invite you to set an intention to join me in both observing and expressing gratitude this month. As always, let me know when you see shifts occur!
To your success – filled with gratitude, awareness and intention.