As you read this piece, I have just wrapped up a long overdue vacation. It has been a week of reflection, refueling, and refocusing as I am executing my fourth-quarter goals. It has been a much-needed time of rest and hitting the reset button in my life. This is my favorite time of the year. The leaves are changing, thoughts are now turning to the planning of Thanksgiving dinner and I can almost smell the turkey, dressing, and all the trimmings. Also, this season is not complete without a taste of pumpkin pie. The holidays have a way of making us all slow down, focus on what is important, and serve as a reminder of how truly blessed we are. I want to share a few insights with you about the power of gratitude.
- Gratitude is something that you have to choose. While some people will debate me on this, I remain resolved in my stance that gratitude is a decision. In other words, I am not saying that everything is wonderful in your life. Nor I am in denial about the fact that we all face real challenges in our lives. However, I want to remind you that gratitude is something that you have to choose every waking moment of your life. I’ve discovered that whatever you concentrate on will consume your life. Furthermore, whatever you focus on will expand in your life. If you focus on everything that is going wrong in your life, then you will discover even more things that are wrong with your life. On the other hand, if you will focus on what is right about your life then you will soon find more things that are right about your life. Gratitude is a decision that I made many years ago and it altered everything about my life. I cannot promise you a life without storms, trials, and tribulations. Conversely, what I know from lived experience is that if you will decide to be grateful your world will expand and be enriched in ways that you never imagined possible.
- You need to start a gratitude journal. For over twenty years, I have kept a gratitude journal. It started out as just a way for me to collect my thoughts and to find something every day to be thankful for. That simple exercise turned into one of my favorite activities of the day and a pillar in my life. Through the years, keeping my gratitude journal has helped me to maintain the right perspective in the most trying and turbulent moments of my life. My gratitude journal has helped me heal from grief and deep pain. Most of all, my gratitude journal has helped me realize that no matter what we are facing in our lives we always have something to be grateful for. When I first started keeping my gratitude journal, I could hardly find three things to write down for the day. Over the years, I have grown from a gratitude list of three to a gratitude list that can easily take up three to four pages. What happened? I have lived a lot more life and had a lot more experiences. All of my experiences have served as a teacher in my life. My experiences have transformed me, opened my heart space, and helped me to be more appreciative of everything in my life. I guarantee you that if you keep a gratitude journal it will profoundly change you in ways you never imagined possible.
- Gratitude is an attitude that you must cultivate. Several years ago, I got the devastating news that a dear friend of mine had died in a plane crash. Immediately, I was overcome with emotions and I cried and screamed at the top of my lungs. I hardly slept that night and I can not even put into words the profound sense of loss and grief that I experienced. At the time, I was in the middle of writing a book and writing a gratitude piece for a major media outlet. I wanted to just say forget it but I tried my best to sit down and focus and write. While the tears were flowing down my face, I started to write about gratitude. I started to reflect on the gift of friendship and how much that friendship had meant to me. I thought about the lessons I had learned. Also, I thought about how blessed I was to get the time that I did with my friend. The more I expressed gratitude the more I felt the grief lifting off of me and peace flooding my heart. It changed me in ways that you would not believe. Ultimately, I discovered that gratitude is an attitude that we must cultivate. In other words, gratitude is not based on the conditions or circumstances in your life. Gratitude is based on the constants in your life. Gratitude is based on the things that money cannot buy and all the things that you could never pay for. One thing you cannot afford to do is to lose your heart of gratitude.
- You must unleash the power of thanksgiving in your life. When you look around the world today, it is easy to complain about all the things that are going wrong. On the other hand, it takes a conscious effort to find something positive in what seems like a powerless situation. From years of experience, I have learned that you may not be thankful for everything that has happened in your life. Conversely, you can remain thankful in the midst of everything happening in your life. What does that mean? It means that you do not magnify the obstacles or opposition that is arising in your life. You must make a decision to maintain the right attitude and to shift your perspective. Your attitude determines your perspective. Your perspective is what ultimately determines what is possible for your life. Personally, I have gone through some things in my life that have literally tried to take all of the life out of me. As a result, I have discovered that thanksgiving is not limited to a date on a calendar. Thanksgiving is a revolutionary force that wants to revolutionize your existence. Thanksgiving is not something that we can limit to a holiday celebration. Thanksgiving is powerful because it reminds us that we may not have everything but we are abundantly blessed. Often the things that we take for granted are the most valuable gifts in our lives. With that said, this year before you sit down for your Thanksgiving meal with your turkey, dressing, and all the trimmings I want you to stop and give thanks for the many blessings in your life. Gratitude is a posture of the heart and a life pillar that will make you indestructible despite the changing seasons of life. Gratitude is powerful because it calms us in life's greatest storms, comforts us in seasons of grief and pain, and centers us despite challenges and crises. Gratitude transforms our hearts and transforms the way we look at the world!