Every day a negative story – or hundreds of them – invade our thoughts. Nearly all the news is negative and can throw us into the negativity zone in less than a few seconds. The world is volatile and complex. Daily messages tell us the world is also uncertain and negative. I don’t think the world is negative, just full of challenges that pull us away from our daily gratitude practice. We can accept all of the negativity and be miserable, or we can choose positive thinking and gratitude to pull us out of the negativity zone and into a better place.
Some researchers, historians and authors would even tell us that this is one of the best times in history to be alive. So, if that is true (and I believe it is) it really is all in our point of view and what we choose to hold as our mindset. Gratitude combats the negativity in the world. There are good things happening each day. Watch for a kindness shown. Pay attention to a spectacular sunrise or sunset. Notice the spring season of animals raising their young; teaching them to fly, swim, run, eat on their own. Revel in the falling colors when summer ebbs into each fall season. Be grateful for a harmonious dinner table gathering full of joy and laughter.
Great Right Now
The world is great right now. There is more abundance than ever. Yet we don’t hear about this because it is not what sells news, it is not what keeps people agitated and worried. Sadly, keeping people uncomfortable, fearful and worried – that’s what sells.
Our most powerful tool for overcoming the challenges of “what sells” is gratitude. Gratitude is the tool for combating the negativity presented in the world. We can keep ourselves in a position of appreciation, of creativity, of innovation, and of better relationships by staying in a gratitude mindset.
There is no need to wait, no need to return to some past time, things are great right now. When we focus on today and what is happening around us right now, we can identify what is good and great. When we spot today’s great things or experiences, express gratitude.
How can we stay in gratitude?
Many books are available on the topic of gratitude. Here are some of my favorite ways to stay grateful and to live in active appreciation and gratitude.
- Look for opportunities to be grateful. Things, people, and places will show up. Take a brief moment and appreciate them.
- Focus on positives. Look for something good and positive every day. Express thanks, appreciation, and gratitude for the positive experiences, tasks accomplished, or excellent customer service you receive.
- Acknowledge people for whom you are grateful. Saying “I appreciate you” to the next person with whom you interact is sure to light up a smile. Sharing a “thank you” when someone holds open a door or hands you what you’ve asked for counts too.
- Practice gratitude daily. Just like practicing with a musical instrument or for a sport, practicing gratitude means we can get better at both recognizing opportunities to express gratitude and then outwardly expressing gratitude and appreciation. Daily actions and expressions of gratitude benefit everyone and combat negativity.
- Habit of gratitude. Daily practice leads to a habit of gratitude that can keep us from getting bogged down in the world’s negativity and keep us out of negativity zones. Gratitude is a tool that when actively practiced consistently, becomes a habit.
- Reminders and reinforcement. Remind yourself to be grateful rather than pessimistic. Reinforce your gratitude by finding new ways to express it: a text, an email, a hand-written note, a public display such as praise during a meeting or sending flowers with a thank-you.
- Staff Meeting Gratitude Moment. During a staff meeting, consider incorporating a gratitude moment in which anyone can share something for which they are happy or grateful. Some service organizations do this during meetings to celebrate the good news of members. By sharing gratitude, you’ll all discover pleasant surprises about the really good things happening each week. Who knows, your team members might even take the Gratitude Moment home to share with their families.
- Create a Culture of Gratitude. Why limit the gratitude sharing to staff meetings? You can create a culture of gratitude by expressing appreciation for your customers; by thanking your vendors for their good work and timely delivery; by actively expressing gratitude for referrals, and through all of the ideas you and your team generate for expressing gratitude.
- Celebrate the results. I know that it sounds simple, expressing gratitude. However, your daily gratitude will bring results – results that very well may be beyond what you can imagine today. When new gifts (results) appear, celebrate and be grateful.
- Share the gratitude habit with others. Encourage others to express gratitude in their lives. Share the gratitude tool as an idea and see what actions others take. Inspire others by sharing your stories of how you’ve overcome the negativity of the world by focusing your thoughts and expressions on gratitude.
- Ask clients about positive experiences. In our practice, rather than asking people “how are you feeling?” or “what’s been going on?” we ask “What’s one positive experience you’ve had since the last time you were here?” This question gets people thinking differently. Often we find that clients are sharing progress they’ve made between visits! Building on the positives helps them during the current session and in-between treatments.
- Watch for public expressions of gratitude and celebrate them. For instance, in the book-based 2016 movie “Me Before You” there are two scenes in which “tell me something good” is the focal message of the scene. Focusing on “the good” is uplifting, healthy, and repeatable!
- Remember that simplicity works. Complexity is not necessary. Reap the rewards of simply being grateful and expressing gratitude.
Begin in gratitude. To create big futures for ourselves, to have better relationships, to experience greater financial well-being, express gratitude. Add your own ideas to the list above. Ask your team members for additional ideas for focusing on and expressing gratitude. Celebrate all of the ideas.
Once you’ve built your gratitude habit into a practice, spread the news. Expressions of gratitude radiate joy into the world. And just like a candle in a dark room reaches even the dark corners of the room, gratitude reaches hardened minds and hearts focused on the world’s negativity.
Gratitude can break through the negativity in surprising ways. Think about the clips and videos online that bring us to joyful tears – moments of achievement, examples of kindness, scenes of gifts being given to people in need. I’m sure most of us have had a tear trickle down, our emotions getting the best of us while watching, and yet not always recognizing the tear as a moment of joyful gratitude for the good just witnessed. Keep watching for the seconds, the moments, the short interactions, and the long-lasting interactions in which things are occurring that bring results for which we can be grateful.
Lighthouse leaders express gratitude daily!
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