Isn’t it interesting that when November rolls around people are posting their 30 days of gratitude and yet, the other 11 months they aren’t? What is so different about that one month that directs people to this simple behavior? I know it must be Thanksgiving but, practicing gratitude should be a daily ritual. After all, we can always find something to be grateful for.
This past year on my birthday, my social media pages were on fire. Friends and colleagues from everywhere were wishing me a wonderful year and telling me how much I meant to them. I love my birthday and I wanted to say a simple thank you to everyone that took the time to send me their thoughts and wishes and let them know how much it meant to me. So, with a quick message, I said thank you to each and every person…one by one, instead of a blanket thank you. Every time another wish came through, my gratitude was shown and one by one, I wrote thank you…hundreds and hundreds of times.
I guess this is not an ordinary practice on Facebook because suddenly I found I was in FB jail. My account was suspended because I said thank you too many times. Really? I am being disciplined for letting people know my gratitude for their time and their thoughts? How is that possible? But there I was in a suspended mode for 48 hours. What does that say about our society? Have we decided that those two simple words are not to be uttered too many times? Have we forgotten how powerful those two words really are?
Recently I attended a conference with my husband. There were many take-aways from the conference and one in particular that made me sit up and take notice. The two most important times in your life are right before you go to sleep and right before you wake up. These two times are when you should express your gratitude. You can say something as simple as “Thank you for today and what tomorrow brings.”
Now here is something to ponder…we often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude. So back to another take-away from the conference. It was suggested that perhaps we should all start journaling each night. I love to write and so that seemed like a great way to get my thoughts down. My husband, not so much, but he agreed to give it a try. Every evening before we got ready for bed, we started journaling, separately, but together. We would write down 3-5 things that were our successes that day…no matter how small you felt they were. Next 3-things that we are grateful for, 3 actions we took towards our dreams and then 3 actions we took towards our happiness.
So, we sat down on the couch and wrote our thoughts down and when we were done, we shared what we wrote with each other. That was where the magic of gratitude came into play.You see we each wrote 3 things we were grateful for and when we heard what the other one wrote; it spoke volumes to each of us. For instance, I wrote that I was grateful to have shared this experience with my husband. Would I have told him that? Probably, but this was something that was important to me and he acknowledged it. He wrote that he was grateful that after an extremely long week, we had date night at our favorite restaurant. I was grateful that he made dinner and it was my favorite food. Can you see how this works? It’s the little things that we express our gratitude for that become the big things.Think about your team…what would it mean to them to hear that you are grateful for what they do and who they are. I’m pretty sure the climate and culture of your organization would shift.
The question is, how do you start expressing and showing gratitude? Here are some easy ways:
- Get yourself a beautiful journal. Find one that when you look at it, it makes you smile. It doesn’t have to be expensive and it doesn’t have to be leather-bound. It can be a blank book with a graphic or saying that you love. The hardest part is starting so find something you can’t wait to write in. Find a really cool pen or marker as well.
- Create the moment. When is the best time for you to express your gratitude? I like it right before I go to sleep so I have something sweet to think about. The choice is entirely yours. Maybe it’s after dinner with your dessert. If you are a bath person, maybe it’s after you’ve relaxed and Calgon has taken you away. Whatever time you choose to do it, keep it as consistent as possible so that you look forward to writing.
- Think about what your gratitude was for the day. It could be something personally or professionally or a combination. It could be something very small or something you’ve been working on that is a huge accomplishment. It could have been a day that you truly believe there is nothing to be grateful for…and that’s when you need it the most. We all have something that we can say a simple thank you for that has happened.Have you seen the sunset lately? What about that very cool journal you bought? Aren’t you excited you have someplace to capture your thoughts?
- Write a few sentences, not a dissertation. The point of expressing gratitude is not to overwhelm you or make you feel like you are not a writer. It’s to remind each one of us that we have so much to be grateful for…no matter how small it seems or how insignificant it is to someone else. Have you ever thanked the pilot on a flight for a safe trip? There you go.
- Start somewhere and see how your life takes a different path. When you are grateful amazing things happen. Opportunities are all around you. Be open to seeing them and receiving them.
- Recognize those around you. This is a bonus one that is for all of us that work with others. One of my colleagues shows how much he appreciates his team, his company, others outside of his company, people that he respects etc. on LinkedIn. Every morning someone or a group of people are recognized. Can you imagine how awesome that is when you see yourself appreciated…and then publicly? It will speak volumes to your team about how important they are to you.
Remember, there is ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS something to be grateful for.