It all starts with gratitude. Gratitude is the bedrock, the touchstone–cornerstone–for any effective philosophy, religious dogma or simply a way to get through life or the day. Without gratitude, there is an inescapable emptiness; not a yearning, but a feeling of being ungrounded. This makes for a fertile ground for resentful thoughts of unfairness or “Why me? Or worse, comparing yourself to others.
We’ll get to the many things to be grateful; for now, just trust that me there are too many to count. We’ll stick for another moment with the importance of being grateful. You have heard and read about the power of positive thinking. Basically, think good thoughts and good things happen. Gratitude is the necessary foundation for positive thinking. Let’s try an experiment together. First, complain about some things in your life; a spouse or partner, child or parent. A boss or co-worker. How you have too many bills, and not enough friends who care enough about you. A recent snide remark from an ungrateful child, or not being able to find anything in the newly rearranged grocery store. Are you with me? Now say these things out loud, for example, “Everyday I try to get Pat to stop squeezing the toothpaste in the middle. How hard can that be?” And another, “Drew was such a jerk to me today at work. After all I have done!” Did you say these things out loud? Good, now say these thing like you would if this was really happening. “Everyday I try to get Pat to stop squeezing the toothpaste in the middle. How hard can that be?” Now the other one, “Drew was such a jerk to me today at work. After all I have done!” Now, try to have a clear and convincing positive thought to start or reset your day. How’d that go?
Now let’s try thinking about Pat and Drew differently; same people, same situations, but our reactions and thoughts are different. “Pat brushes twice a day; I appreciate the fresh breath and the almost complete lack of cavities.” Or, “In the past, Drew has always been so helpful on projects; wonder what’s wrong. I hope everything is OK.”
Now, you can come up with a positive thought. Or just go with those two.
We are surrounded 24/7 with things we can–and should–be openly grateful for. If you have access to running water in your home, be grateful. One in three people on the planet don’t have access to a decent toilet, and one in nine don’t have clean water close to home. How about electricity? We all get frustrated when the power goes out; when it returns, our response is likely to be, “Well, finally! What’s with those people?” Over 1.2 billion–with a “B”–people don’t have any electricity to lose from time-to-infrequent time in the first place. Their power is always out.
OK, your turn. Going from water and electricity, add some things that you are grateful to have. Take your time. Write them down. Then tell people. And be sure to tell the people for whom you are grateful.
Distinction: Gratitude is not the same contentment. The masthead of the Denver Post used to include the saying, “There is no hope for the satisfied man.” Being grateful for everything you have does not mean that you have to be content with everything you have. Some people confuse, “I’m grateful.” with, “I’m good with things the way they are.” Being grateful does not mean going limp. In fact, it often takes more strength and discipline to be grateful than to complain. We all can–and should–strive for improvements. And the setting of new plans and striving, pushing–is best done while resting on a firm foundation of gratitude.
Remember, it all starts with gratitude. And not just starts with gratitude; gratitude is the foundation for everything else.
Remember that list you wrote down? How about sharing what you are grateful for with me? I do care about what’s important to you.
Please do contact me about anything. Respond in my Results With Reason blog, email me at email@example.com. And I’m easy to find on iTunes, Google Play and the usual Bat Channels, including Twitter and Facebook.
It is time for our usual parting thought. For us at Results With Reason, it is not only change your thinking, change your life. It is change your thinking, change your actions, change the world. And if you can do it in love and enjoy the people around you at the same time, all the better. Remember: Knowledge by itself is the booby prize.
Will Luden, writing from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.