Article Source: Forbes
The American philosopher Eric Hoffer once said, “The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.”
Whether physical, emotional, professional, relational, spiritual or financial, life is riddled with challenges. Sometimes it is more difficult to count our blessings over our burdens.
Martin Seligman, commonly known as the founder of Positive Psychology, suggests that optimism and gratitude are essential to a more positive outlook and a life that flourishes. Seligman’s work centers on teaching people skills for shifting perspectives to enhance their overall quality of life.
Today In: Leadership
According to Seligman, perspective matters. Pessimism can lead to a hopeless and helpless mindset. Optimism can lead to contentment with the past, happiness in the present and hope for the future.
Leadership is about dispensing hope and energizing people. Gratitude is indispensable to this. A culture anchored in optimism and gratitude has some powerful benefits. People are more willing to step into uncertainty and risk to accelerate innovation. When gratitude is part of the organization’s DNA, people have a positive emotional reserve to draw on during tough times, to weather the storms of change and to see opportunities that may be hidden to others.
Here are 12 ideas that have helped us shift our perspectives and live in the grace of each day. Perhaps they are worth sharing with family and friends as you break bread this week. But don’t limit gratitude to something you focus on just during this holiday season, make it a practice in your organization and see if you get some amazing results.
1. Good Friends – Good Memories
Not long ago, a client told us she chooses to spend money on memories, not things. Things perish. Memories last a lifetime. If you have one good friend with whom you’ve created some precious, lasting memories, be thankful. If you have several good friends, you are richly blessed. If not, look for a kindred spirit, reach out, take a risk and grow a friendship.
2. Hard Times
Most people hate hard times, but in difficult times character grows. People develop perseverance and a greater appreciation for the good times. Hard times lead to vulnerability, and vulnerability creates space for people to support us. People can get through almost anything when they know they are loved and know someone has their back. Could you pay it forward and return the support?
3. Disruptive Honesty
Self-awareness and a high EQ (emotional intelligence) are among the virtues of great leadership and meaningful friendships. Yet, we all operate with blind spots. People see the world through personal filters. People who know us intimately and love us unconditionally, who are willing to speak the truth, can be disruptive and unnerving. Yet, they are a rare gift because those relationships help us become better.
To know people who are for us and who are willing to rumble in “tough conversations” is an asset. Be grateful for your rumble buddies.
We often take it for granted until we lose it. If you are spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically well, be thankful, many people aren’t. And, even if health is a challenge, you don’t have to look very far to find someone with more significant problems. Be thankful for what is working.
5. Modern Technology
The Internet has expanded global connections and democratized everything. The boundaries are blurred. Now a small, budding entrepreneur with a creative solution can compete with big companies in bringing an idea to market. Think of the knowledge people have access to today that they did not 10 years ago. Think about the growth of smartphone applications that enable self-empowered wellness. Technology is enriching our lives.
Yet, the drawbacks of “always-on” can take a toll. When it comes to high tech, always on, balance is the operative word. Indulge in some off time.
6. Simple, Taken-For-Granted Privileges
If you went to bed with a full stomach, woke up with a roof over your head, flipped on a light and used an indoor toilet, consider yourself blessed. If you used toothpaste, deodorant, had a choice of clothes to wear and a glass of clean water to drink, you are blessed. If you have access to proper medical care and if you don’t have to walk down the street looking over your shoulder in fear for your life, be thankful. Someone, not far from you, doesn’t have these privileges.
7. People Who Serve
Every day someone lightens the load and makes life a bit more enjoyable for someone else. Be thankful for the baristas and bartenders who remember your drink and make it precisely to your liking. Show appreciation for servers who show courtesy when you’re hungry and hurried. Acknowledge the trash collectors who dispose of garbage. Be kind to customer service agents who try to respond with dignity and patience, even when they are hampered by broken systems.
Let’s each give thanks to the first responders and service members who risk their lives every day in the call of duty. They see a side of life few of us ever have to see. They are the calm in the crisis. They make our lives easier and safer.
8. Teachers, Mentors, Coaches
When people believe in us, they make us bigger, stronger and more capable than we ever thought we could be. Have you ever had someone who saw something in you that you couldn’t see in yourself? An affirming and supportive teacher, coach or mentor can change the direction of a person’s life. We all drink from wells dug by others. Be thankful for those people who believed and invested in you and may have even redirected your life. Do they deserve a call or a note to let them know?
The freedom to have a voice. The right to vote and shape policy. The opportunity to worship whomever and however you want to. The ability to turn ideas into a business. The luxury to travel and see the world. The gift of an education. The joy to love and be loved and the freedom to choose how to respond to circumstances you can’t control are among the greatest freedoms and highest privileges we enjoy. Cherish them.
Although the 24-hour news cycle seems to polarize, demonize, separate and divide people, random and generous acts of humanity abound. They’re evident in the woman who helps pay for groceries when a stranger comes up short or the guy who bought coffee for the person next in line. They can be seen in a hair studio that offers free haircuts to the homeless and in the driver who yields when traffic is heavy.
From the volunteer who brings a golden retriever as grief support for children to the neighbor next door who took out another neighbor’s trash, the list goes on. Even though it may take a moment to shift perspectives, gratitude and kindness are the foundation of what unites humanity.
11. Abundant Life
Thanks to modern medicine, adults are more likely to live longer than any other generation in history. Tremendous advancements have been made in the fight to cure cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and other sicknesses. Extreme poverty is declining, while global learning and literacy are increasing. The number of democracies around the world is rising, and violent crime in the U.S. is the lowest it’s been in 40 years.
Are these things changing fast enough? Of course not. But taking a moment to be grateful for their trajectory might be the very inspiration we need to go back to work and keep improving them. By realizing that our lives are more abundant than we think, perhaps we can be more grateful and then reach out to those who are suffering from a greater scarcity than our own. As actor Denzel Washington reminds us in this video, it starts with simply saying, “Thank You.”
12. Gratitude Scales
Thank you Seth Godin for this one. Gratitude is contagious. Personally, the more grateful you are the more you have to be thankful for and the more joyful you will be. In gratitude, we find glimmers of good and amplify them. Socially, the most generous people are often the most grateful. In turn, their generosity inspires gratitude in others. Then, gratitude expands and multiplies.
Here’s a final thought from Melody Beattie. She does an excellent job of succinctly capturing the essence of gratitude.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
So, going back to Eric Hoffer’s words, give it a try, test your arithmetic, do your blessings outnumber your burdens? If so, #blessed and spread gratitude.
#Blessed to share meaningful moments and milestones.