I initially brainstormed around several different topics that I wanted to discuss this week but after a recent conversation with my mom there’s one fundamental element that I can’t seem to shake and that is one of gratitude.
With all this talk about change and cultivating the life you want we often get distracted from all that we currently have and the foundations that allow us to propel forward in the ways which we possibly could never imagine. The idea of being grateful for all the learnings and experiences we have had in our lives up until this point. Whether good or bad, they’ve had an impact in one way or another and without them we wouldn’t be where we are today. Subconsciously it can be easy to overlook these components of our lives and that is why this week I want to shift our focus here and truly highlight our appreciation for who we fundamentally are and what we have.
Simply put gratitude means the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
Speaking to my mother we began discussing family history and the make-up of our ancestors. She was telling me stories she could remember of my grandparents and great grandparents from her childhood. Their journey through life and how in the face of significant adversity they managed to remain grateful above all else. My grandmother had 11 children over the course of her life, my mom the youngest, and there were times in the 20's when the family was just starting to bud that my grandfather's income was around $100/month. They might not have had much then in terms of material items but they were never hungry, never cold, never without a roof over their heads, and most importantly never without LOVE. Of course this is all relative to the economy at that time and by the time my mom was born my grandfather had successfully worked his way to owning his third business but nonetheless, it is still a thought most of us today couldn't begin to comprehend. Although I never was able to meet him the story is told that he was one of the happiest and most joyful people alive for most of his life. The hard work, sacrifice, and struggle he had to endure as a black man not only fueled his success but it also attributed to his love of life, never taking anything for granted. Nowadays most of the time our focus has shifted and it’s all about the material aspects and no matter how much we have, it's seemingly never enough. How many square feet our house is, what kind of car we drive, the clothes we wear, shoes we rock (sometimes standing on line for hours for that limited edition pair), our job title, bank account status, etc. … We’ve been so far removed from the essentials that all we can see is how much more we want by way of what we don’t have.
While wanting more is never a bad thing, we must remember the importance of remaining gracious about where we currently are.
Sure, ultimately my grandfather wanted more out of life and that’s what ultimately led him to owning three successful businesses over the course of his lifetime, however before getting to that point he never let what he didn’t have over power what he did have.
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey
So, what are you thankful for?
Humility certainly plays a large part in this mindset but what other ways can you begin to incorporate gratitude into your life? And by doing so how much more abundance do you think you can create? If you think about it there are so many things that have probably already occurred within your day to be grateful for, but how many of them have you actually acknowledged? The fact that you woke up, made it to work safe and sound, had food in your fridge for breakfast or lunch, have a job to go to everyday, have the ability to work out/ exercise, etc. … So many of the things we, over time, tend to take for granted.
This week I challenge you to shift your perspective to the positive by acknowledging all that you are grateful for and equally showing gratitude whenever you can- because we all know actions speak louder than words. It won’t be easy and will definitely require effort but the hope here is that through conscious effort and practice the moments of positive thinking begin to outweigh the moments of negativity or complaint leading you to the abundant life you really want.
I challenge you to create a system of sorts, unique to you that creates a platform for gratitude to breathe and exist consistently within your life. Perhaps it’s a gratitude journal that you write in at the end of each day, a meditation series, or cultivating affirmations. Whatever it is play around with several implementations until you find what truly works for you. And don’t think that you just have to limit your practice to one strategy. You might find that there are multiple ways to serve this value and that is great.
Strip down your thoughts and move away from the ideas of what you think you should have but don’t. I find myself personally turning to the saying that “it can always be worse” whenever I find myself down and out about something, because I’m human just like you, to help me through. try it sometime or come up with your own “go to” phrase to spark your new way of thinking.
In addition, take note of the shifts your life begins to take during these moments. What happens to those around you when you illuminate your life with gratitude? What influence do you start to have on others? What are the affects you start to see within your environment?
A positive and gracious mind can only breed a positive and gracious life. So what are you waiting for? Start counting your blessings today and watch abundance flow like never before.