Gratitude: An Incredibly Powerful Tool Personally & Professionally

 

As we wrap up a Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, I wanted to draw specific focus to gratitude and how we can continue to live this valuable and important practice beyond one or a handful of days a year. We don’t need a special occasion or event to practice valuable behaviours that serve us all along our paths to a meaningful life living full out!  Did you know that some experts suggest that it takes 2-3 positive emotions to counter balance one negative emotion?  How can we take a more purposeful approach to keeping our bucket full?  Today I focus on a manner in which we can bridge the value and motivation of practicing gratitude to daily habit. 

GratitudeRooted in a focus on goals, dreams, and living a life of meaning I purposefully take the time to journal each and everyday.  This tool allows one to define and refine what your path looks like in terms of goals and values.  Once your path is mapped out, you can begin to process daily events/activities/emotions/responses.  With this ‘mapped’ out you can evaluate and identify vitamins and toxins in you life.  This is where I identify the things, people, experiences, and environmental circumstances that boost my bucket and energize me forward along my path (vitamin) and identify toxins in which hinder, drain, or push/pull me off my desired path.

Once you have clarity on these vitamins/toxins you can begin to recognize and appreciate the value they bring you…express gratitude.  Yes, you can derive gratitude from both vitamins and toxins.  As such, I prescribe a specific portion of my journaling to gratitude.  It is incredibly difficult, if not impossible to not have a positive energy boost when you feel and express gratitude.  Try it!

For much of my life, I would share my gratitude freely and routinely, however after processing through my journaling time, the impact of my expressions upon others was not always well received.  For some to hear my words of gratitude it caused them to laugh, feel awkward and uncomfortable, or even leave long empty pauses as they didn’t know how to respond.  Instead, I choose to leverage my journal to extract, feel, and appreciate the value of gratitude for both the direct benefits along my path as well as to learn about how to better appreciate others in my life.  I am much more selective with who and how I share my gratitude now as I am conscious of delivering value (not detracting from it) in a manner in which others receive it.

Through this daily practice, I have recognized the value and importance that gratitude specifically brings me, and as such have adopted gratitude into my personal leadership values.  It provides balance and grounding to my other personal leadership values that I live to and stand for each day.  What is really incredible are the dozens of pages in my journal that are oozing with gratitude that I’ve identified in the past 6 months.  The people, experiences, moments, opportunities, etc. that I am grateful for…its hard not to smile as I write this.  The benefits of a daily gratitude practice that I can absolutely attest to are; a better quality sleep, increased positivity and energy, more solutions and focus, and a feeling of fulfillment and one of feeling alive.  

 How do you begin to create this daily habit of gratitude?

  1. Invest in 5-10 minutes of time where you, and you alone can focus your thoughts completely on this habit.  Book it in your calendar if you must!  I personally like the end of my day, it is part of my process of clearing my brain before laying my head down on my pillow, and what better emotion to close your eyes to than gratitude?  What’s even more incredible is the frame of mind you wake up to after an amazing sleep on top of a pillow of gratitude.
  2. Write down your gratitude in a dedicated book.  Research suggest that yes, writing it rather than typing increases your ability to understand and internalize the ideas, it improves brain development, and has been proven to generate more ideas.  Writing forces you to slow down and process what is flowing from your brain through your arm, hand, fingers, and into the pen onto the paper.  Yes, I can type 60 wpm, however speed is not the goal, but rather the ‘feeling’ of the gratitude that you are processing is, and writing it on paper is much more effective in achieving the goal.
  3. When it is physically in front of you on paper, you can see it.  This will allow you to process it again after you have thought it, now it’s documented so that you can re-live it tomorrow and for days to come, and you are now assembling an inventory to visually see all that you have in your life that is valuable and brings you gratitude.
  4. The key to extracting the real value of this is to truly ‘feel’ the gratitude.  Simply saying “thanks” without the emotion inside you is worthless.  Spend a moment or two visualizing the gratitude, feeling it until you feel the smile or the tear, or the positive emotion that it delivers to you.  When you begin to feel and identify all that you are grateful for, your mind suddenly uncovers more gratitude…the effect is exponential…somewhat infectious.
  5. Repeat the process tomorrow at the exact same time and place.

If you’re looking for deeper insights and expertise on how to optimize and leverage the immense personal and professional benefits of gratitude beyond one or two days a year, I would love to hear form you!  Email Monica.