“Say thank you.” How many of us have been told this countless times by a parent, teacher or some other adult in our lives over the years? Perhaps you were given food that you were made to eat that you did not want to eat but you were told to eat it, like it and say thank you. Or when you received a gift, someone prompted, “What do you say?” To which most of us compliantly replied, “Thank you.” To respond with the words ‘thank you’ whenever something is given is the expected response, and while true gratitude creates joy and satisfaction in life, there is a big difference between an entrained response and true gratitude.
The holiday of Thanksgiving is fast approaching. A day set aside to focus on gratitude. While there is nothing wrong with a Thanksgiving holiday, if we chose gratitude every single day, how much greater would our world be? Gratitude cultivates kindness. Gratitude overrides judgment, it dismantles walls, destroys barriers and invites peace and ease. Sounds great right? A world of kindness, peace and ease? But what causes someone to be truly grateful? Being told we should be thankful certainly doesn’t work, so what does?
These are my top three tips on choosing gratitude every day in all situations.
1. Be willing to be different
What does being different have to do with gratitude? A whole lot, actually! Take a look around. Listen to a few conversations. Most people focus on the problems in their lives. Conversations are often about judgment. Judgment of self. Judgment of others. Judgment of the world. When everyone around you is talking about their lack of money or how out of shape they are or the problems they are having with their kids, it quickly becomes clear how rare gratitude actually is.
If you are a person who focuses on what isn’t working, or if you are surrounded by people who function that way, here’s what you can do. Every time you or someone else says something negative, say to yourself, “Interesting point of view I have that point of view.” Or, “Interesting point of view, they have that point of view.”
Here is an example. You are talking with a friend and you notice that you are complaining about the fact that you haven’t been given a raise at work in a very long time and how unfair it is. Stop yourself and in your mind say, “Interesting point of view. I have that point of view.” What occurs when you use this phrase is that your point of view, which currently is real and true, becomes simply interesting and when it is simply interesting, you can let it go. When you lose the points of view that are keeping you stuck in negativity, you are able to see options and possibilities that you were not able to see before.
Circling back to gratitude, judgment and gratitude cannot exist at the same time. You are either in judgment or you are in gratitude. When you stop being in judgment by letting go of judgmental points of view, gratitude is the result. Do be warned! This is not normal. If you choose gratitude, you will be different.
2. Just because you want more does not mean you are not grateful
A common misconception is that desiring more in your life or wanting ‘too much” means you are not grateful. Remember when you were a kid and you got the coolest toy ever and you loved it for about an hour and then you wanted something else? Were you ever made wrong for that? Were you ever told, “What’s the matter with you? Why can’t you just be grateful?” When we receive these messages growing up, we often buy into the idea that if we desire more, we are not grateful. This is in fact not true.
Desiring more and asking for more is what the people who have created the greatest changes on the planet have always done. They looked at what was and said, “I wonder what else is possible? I wonder if we could go beyond this and create something greater? If I wasn’t limited by what I see, what else would I know and choose and create?”
Everywhere you have decided that you are wrong for desiring more, what if that was also just an interesting point of view? What if you could let that go and recognize that being aware of greater possibilities and desiring them does not make you ungrateful or wrong, it simply makes you someone who desires and can affect change in the world; so please don’t stop. The world needs you.
3. Start with gratitude for you
How many times have you judged yourself since you woke up this morning? Once? Twice? Ten times or more? Remember, judgment and gratitude cannot exist in the same place. If you would like to live your life in gratitude, start with being grateful for you. As you do, judgment will dissipate, and that sense of gratitude will overflow into all areas of your life.
A great place to start is with a simple question, “What’s right about me that I am not getting?” Most of us are very good at judging ourselves relentlessly and always seeing what we have decided is wrong with us. When you start to ask, “What’s right about me that I am not getting?” you begin to get a sense of the greatness of you rather than the wrongness of you.
Gratitude is not something we do. It is something we be. Choose to be grateful for you, no matter what, and that gratitude will flow into all of the areas of your life. You are the brilliance, the gift and the change the world requires. Choose to have and be you.