Sitting at the Thanksgiving dinner table last week, I could not help but feel an immense amount of gratitude for being alive on the sixth anniversary (to the day) of the car accident that sparked my life transformation, for the family and friends around the table, and for the mindset and attitude I now have about life. I must confess – that feeling of true gratitude was foreign to me back when I lived an overly hectic and unbalanced life that kept me trapped in the so-called “rat-race”. I did not think of myself as ungrateful in those days, but in many ways, I have to admit that I was an ungrateful little brat who took a lot of things for granted. I took family, friends, opportunities, and even financial success for granted, assuming they would always be there for me. In that way, I damaged many wonderful relationships and wasted valuable life opportunities.
For instance, in one of my first jobs, I had everything anyone could want in a workplace – but I didn’t appreciate it at the time. My boss was supportive, inspiring and nurturing, and my co-workers were all fun, interesting and hard-working. We were encouraged to express our individual selves, and collaboration and creativity flowed as a result. What else could I have asked for? I then accepted a very good offer that convinced me to switch to a position where (unbeknownst to me) the environment was toxic. I was then in the type of place where a co-worker would throw you under the bus given any opportunity. There was a lot of gossip and drama, which resulted in little to no comradery or morale. It was not until I experienced such a negative environment that I was able to appreciate a good one.
I also took for granted many precious times with family and friends. I feel very sad when I sometimes hear my friends tell stories of fun times that should have been as memorable to me… but the fact is, I didn’t appreciate my time with them as much and my recollection of those events just isn’t as memorable as theirs. I should have treasured those times but instead I was mostly there physically, but was mentally too preoccupied with work or the future.
Just as I now recognize the number of ways in which I basically squandered a good part of my life when I took things for granted, I can also appreciate the fact that people can change and transform when we allow ourselves to notice the innumerable blessings around us and start living in gratitude. I now wake up and go to sleep giving thanks for all that I have in my life, for life itself, for the opportunity to create another wonderful day, for the amazing people in my circle, for the work I am allowed to do, and for the abundance I receive.
I invite you to make gratitude a lifestyle choice, not just a holiday tradition. To see how your life can be enriched by living in gratitude, try this exercise for at least seven consecutive days:
• Take a few minutes first thing every morning to give thanks for anything or anyone in your life that brings you happiness or makes your life better.
• Catch yourself judging or saying anything negative, and find something to appreciate about that person or situation.
• Then at night, take 10 minutes to keep a “gratitude journal” in which you write down at least five things for which you are grateful that day. This could be a beautiful sunset, something nice that a co-worker did for you, getting all green lights when you were rushing to a meeting, or even a great joke you heard at just the right time.
I am certain that after you do this for a week, your life will feel better. Studies show that a grateful attitude will lead to a more satisfied state of mind. It can also lead to better overall health, reducing blood pressure and increasing the motivation to exercise. Your quality of sleep will even improve, which will make you feel more alert and present in everything you do during the day. You’ll also be more sensitive to situations where you have the opportunity to show compassion, making you more empathetic and forgiving. And all this can really come from the inner and outer expression of gratitude! Life simply is much more fulfilling when you live in constant gratitude. Let the universe know what you are grateful for!
Wishing you and yours a happy and peaceful Holiday Season!