By Marti MacGibbon, CADC II, ACRPS
Attitude is everything. Gratitude is the ultimate attitude adjustment. John is a manager with a software firm, and although he recalls being enthusiastic about his job during his first year in the position, he now questions why he keeps coming to work each day. John feels pressed and harried by his staff, and feels helpless to motivate them. Every complaint and annoying personnel issue seems to end up on his desk. He gets flustered when confronted with what he perceives to be neediness on the part of others. John feels stressed and unappreciated in his career, but is careful to "stuff" his emotions in order to appear cool and objective.
Julie's office is right across the hall from John's, and as he observes Julie's contagious enthusiasm, he wonders how she's kept it recharged year after year. Julie is consistently upbeat and creative. She seems to have a way of raising the spirits of subordinates and associates alike. Her energy appears to be boundless. Julie communicates openly, showing patience and empathy. People leave her office looking uplifted. Julie always has a positive take on any work-related issue, and her staff exude confidence in meeting challenges and deadlines. John wishes he could get his staff to apply themselves as well as Julie's do, and wonders what her secret is.
Julie's secret is an attitude of gratitude. Since 2000, psychologists have conducted numerous studies on the effect and benefits of gratitude. Gratitude, it turns out, is a very powerful and often overlooked emotion. In the words of Cicero, the ancient Roman philosopher, "Gratitude is not only the greatest of all virtues but the parent of all others." When we live in a state of gratefulness for all that we have, all that we are, and all that comes our way, then we constantly receive more things to be grateful for. Gratitude is a powerful force which instantly begins propelling us forward toward happiness, success, and health. Once established as a force within us, our gratitude naturally begins radiating out toward others.
Here are three simple methods you can use to quickly become grounded in gratefulness, and continue to increase and refresh your inner gratitude force throughout the day:
Make a mental gratitude list in the moment. This can also be done with pen and paper, but people don't always have time to do a physical list during a busy day, so try it now, inwardly. Start by thinking the words, "Thank you," and repeat as you visualize all the things you're grateful for. For example, take a deep breath, and acknowledge gratitude for the air you're breathing, the lung capacity you have, and the oxygen to your brain and bloodstream. Look around you, and experience gratitude for your eyesight, the view you're taking in, and your brain's power to process the image. As you acknowledge your gratitude, allow yourself to luxuriate in the feeling of joy and peace that comes from living in the moment, knowing that the future holds promise for you.
Create a written gratitude list to read aloud to yourself daily. Start by saying the words, "Thank you," aloud a few times — to prime the gratitude pump, so to speak. Begin by recording at least 10 things for which you are grateful. Read the list at least once during your business day. Take time to celebrate each entry with a feeling of exultation — you are thrilled that you have received, or will receive, this wonderful supervisor, business opportunity, creative concept, material acquisition, inspiration, talent, etc., in your life. Your list may contain items as simple as a good cup of coffee or as wondrous as a spectacular sunset. Feel the thrill and joy of gratitude that fills you each time you read and contemplate your list, and notice how you begin to be inspired to reciprocate by sharing with others.
Give of yourself and express your gratitude to others. This step is essential in completing the gratitude cycle. As you begin to acknowledge all that you have, all that you are, and all that comes your way, you come to recognize that everything in life, particularly that which is challenging, is a gift — a miracle. Consciously celebrate each miracle, and out of your resulting joy comes a desire to "pay it forward."
For example, increase your expressions of gratitude. Instead of simply saying the words, "Thank you," to an associate or subordinate, take time to give them a genuine, specific recognition of their value to you in the workplace. Acknowledge someone of lesser status with appropriate and sincere respect. Listening is a powerful way of giving, and it boosts the self-esteem of the person we are listening to, if we are fully attentive. Donate time or money to a charity or a cause.
It is an enriching experience when you devote yourselves to discovering how much appreciation and gratitude can be packed into the stream of life in a given moment, hour, or day. Albert Einstein said, "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as if nothing is a miracle, the other is as if everything is." Try living as if everything, even the tiniest thing, is a miracle, and watch your gratitude bubble over.
Every moment experienced in life holds millions of things to be grateful for, and acknowledging these things — with passion — will turbo-charge your ability to rejoice, appreciate, relax, receive, and reciprocate! Start each day with a gratitude list and see for yourself. Gratitude carries profound results, and it can kick your attitude into positive gear —instantaneously. It works when we work it!
Marti MacGibbon, CADC II, ACRPS, is a certified mental health professional, inspirational motivational speaker, veteran standup comic, author and member of the National Speakers Association. Her memoir, "Never Give in to Fear," is available on Amazon.com and through her Web site, www.nevergiveintofear.com. To find out more, call (310) 210 4674.
By Marti MacGibbon, CADC II, ACRPS