You can feel it in the air as the nights get cooler and the days get shorter. It is that sense of anticipation; anticipation for the Holidays, for the new season and for the New Year. A New Year brings a sense of new beginning, of “starting over” and possibilities abound. However, before you go rushing into the New Year, STOP and take a moment to give Thanks. Yes, a simple thank you can help you move you forward with greater ease and flow.
Time to Give Thanks
This week, in the United States, we are celebrating Thanksgiving, holiday dedicated to giving thanks. However, often in the rush to make the perfect turkey, “handle” the relatives’ visit and watch the football games, you may miss the opportunity to reflect on what you are grateful for; to review what is working in your life and to create a space for Gratitude. Yes, create a space and process for gratitude. The process of being grateful is one of the secrets of the super successful.
Simple but Not always Easy
No matter how you say it; being thankful is one of the simplest acts to do while also being one of the most difficult places “to be” at times. Practicing gratitude makes it easier. So let’s all practice saying it,together now, “Thank You! Gracias, Merci, Danke, Toda, Grazie, Arigato, Takk and Spasibo.”
Feels good huh!
The Connection between Happiness and Gratitude
Did you know that there is scientific research of the effects of gratitude on happiness? Robert Emmons, a Professor at the University of California and a leader in the area of Positive Psychology, wrote a book called Thanks!:How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier. Studies were performed on thousands of people by a number of different researchers around the world. These studies showed that gratitude is one of the strongest contributors to happiness and meaning in life. In addition, gratitude has been shown to strengthen people’s social relationships, improve people’s physical health, and motivate people to act in ways that enhances the quality of their moments, days, and lives. Makes “Thank you” all the more powerful, huh!
Working the Gratitude Muscle
Now you might be wondering, “Are there ways to increase my ability to be grateful?” Why yes, there are. I mean, we can all say “thank you” when life is going well, business is booming or someone is being kind to us. This is one of the first things we teach our children, right. All parents tell their children “say _________” whenever they are given something. So you probably have that down and say thank you all the time. Hmmm…. No? Have you forgotten to say thank you for all your blessings lately?
Write it Down
One of the easiest ways to increase gratitude is through writing in a gratitude journal and using it consistently. Some people like to write in the morning so they start their day off in gratitude; others like to end the day writing all that they are thankful for. Either way works; just be CONSISTENT.
If you are stuck and are not sure what to write, here is a simple way to start: Set a timer for two minutes and just write. Don’t stop yourself to think, just write and let the words flow out of you. If the timer goes off and you have more to write, keep going. You can begin by just filling in the blanks. And it can be as simple as this:
I am grateful for my bed I slept in last night
I am grateful for my children
I am grateful for this cup of coffee
I am grateful for having a business that allows me flexibility and choice
Now you try: Just fill in the blank: I am grateful for ____________________
This works when you are feeling super thankful and in the flow. And guess what, it REALLY works when you are not so happy, when you are feeling frustrated, when you are not so thrilled with the way your life is going. This is when you need to really sit in the place of gratitude for what is working, for what you do have. It is out of this space of gratitude that new ideas and new energy and new forward movement will happen.
Going Inside to be “Great-ful”
By now you understand the importance of giving thanks for things that you have. If you are like most people, that gratitude is usually for things external; meaning things or people outside of ourselves. So I want to shift gears a little and talk about being “GREAT-FUL” or full of great. I want you to look inside and see what makes you great so that you can be in gratitude for your own greatness. Wow – that is a whole lot of Great!
So how do you that? Well, I want you to take a moment and step into your own greatness. We all have it. It is my belief that every person is born with innate greatness and either forget it or you just plain take it for granted. And if you have taken it for granted, most likely you have not been thankful for what makes you unique in a while. Now is the time to change all that.
Time to Own Your Greatness
“Greatness may take the form of a great endeavor, or it may manifest as a fullness of life, a living out of one’s Essence self. Essence is neither a place nor a time, an insight or a state of mind. It is the deepest part of our nature, an actual presence that is innate and inborn. Absolutely everyone has the capacity to be great, but few notice or own it.” Jean Huston
WOW! I agree with Jean. Everyone has innate greatness and yet few own it. So, how about we change that right now. What is your inner greatness? I mean what are you REALLY good at? Perhaps you feel uncomfortable tooting your own horn. Now is the time to put that discomfort aside and toot away. You may be taking for granted something that makes you unique.
Begin here: what skills or talents did you use today? Did you listen well to your friend, spouse or friends? Were you patient with someone? Perhaps you inspired someone? Did you tell a great story? The list can go on and on. In fact, I invite you to make that list for yourself. When you do, you will be just scratching the surface of what makes you great.
What do others see as your Greatness?
Sometime over the next week or so, ask five people in your life what they see as your strengths. This works really well if you ask five people from different areas of your life (work, home, friends, committee members). Don’t be embarrassed; just ASK. Then listen and take in what they say. This is how you are showing up to others. Some of what is said may be old news to you; maybe you hear it all the time. Are you listening? Are you fully using your talents to support yourself and others? Perhaps you heard something that was a surprise to you; let that in also. Reflect upon what about hearing it surprised you. Our greatness is often at our core and we don’t value it because “that’s just who I am.”
The World needs Your Greatness
It is that, “Who I am” which makes you unique and the world needs your greatness. Yes, YOUR greatness. Imagine for a moment that all those around you mentioned kindness as one of your strengths. What if, all of a sudden, you did not honor kindness and showed up to those people as unkind. Imagine the impact! Imagine how your interactions would change because you were not honoring what makes you great. Take a moment and look at some of the strengths on your list and imagine showing up tomorrow without them. Feel strange and uncomfortable?
Why am I making a big deal about noticing and honoring your own greatness? Frankly, because the world needs your greatness right now. You just imagined how things would change without your unique greatness. This is true for every person in this world. You have the ability to change someone else’s life simply by being who you are. Here is a simple experiment to prove it. All of us can smile. Some do it easier than others but I know you can all do it. Go out today and smile at everyone you pass by, perhaps even say hello. Notice what happens; just notice. You will effect change in others.
The Gratitude Journal re-visited
Now that you know that you are “full of great”; how about we take another look at gratitude by revisiting the gratitude journal. Powerful tool. Now, when writing in your journal, not only include what you are externally grateful for; also include what skills, strengths and talents you are grateful for. When you recognize and honor them, they will flourish and support you even more. This will in turn make you happier, more productive, healthier and with greater meaning in your life.
A Challenge for You
So you can really receive the full benefit of having a gratitude journal, I have a challenge for each of you, should you choose to take it.
Here is the challenge: Write in your gratitude journal and send a brief note to me at firstname.lastname@example.org saying “I wrote today” every day for 30 days. At the end of 30 days, you will have a consistent behavior AND you will receive a gift from me. Statistics show that only 3% of you who are reading this challenge will take action and do this. It is those 3% that will truly benefit. Will you be one of the 3%? If not, what is holding you back?
I am thankful for you
In closing; I want to express my gratitude for you. I am gratefu for being able to write about and teach ideas which help inspire and transform people. I am grateful to know that as people grow and step into their greatness, they connect and touch so many more people in this world. I am blessed to do the work that I love every day and I am grateful for my clients who are brilliant and offer such gifts to others. And finally, I am grateful that you spent your time reading to the end of this article. THANK YOU!