Cicero, the great Roman Philosopher, once wrote: “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”
He captures the reality that gratitude orients your heart in a very specific way. The orientation of your heart will determine how you see and interact with people and events around you.
It’s easy to connect gratitude with events in your life. But the depth of gratitude you have is not determined by the position of life you find yourself in. Gratitude isn’t anchored to the quality of events surrounding you or the types of blessings you might be experiencing. Rather, gratitude is a choice. It’s a decision that you make every morning. It’s a decision focused on what you do have – not what you don’t have. When you encounter extremely difficult moments of life, you have a choice about how you’re going to face and get through them.
GRATITUDE SHIFTS FOCUS
It is is so easy to keep focus on ourselves. If you are not intentional, the world quickly starts to orbit around you. My problems. My fears. My situation. My future. My issues. My likes. Your eyes become locked on yourself and the world around you shifts away into an unrecognizable reality. Gratitude has the power to obliterate self-centeredness. Notice I didn’t say that gratitude solves your problems. It doesn’t. But it does have the ability to shift your focus from you and your perceived problems, and recalibrates your perspective. The more grateful you are for what you do have, and not what you don’t have, will allow your perspective to shift. You will see this world, not for what you don’t have, but how blessed you really are. You will start to see this world, not for all your struggles and disappointments, but for the numerous moments that leave your heart full. You will start to see this world, not based on the struggle, but for the countless opportunities that are in your hands now. The gravitational pull of gratitude is mighty and unrelenting. Try it and see how it reshapes your perspective.
Here is the challenge: Intensify gratitude to shift your life’s perspective. Take the next seven days and commit to one of the five gratitude intensifiers. Do you have an idea of your own? That works as well. Just commit to doing it every day for seven days.
5 GRATITUDE INTENSIFIERS:
- DEVELOP A GRATITUDE LIST: Take the next seven days and write down at least one specific item that you are thankful for every day. Do not get caught up on the size and significance of the item. Focus on anything that enters your mind that you are grateful for.
- ELIMINATE COMPLAINING: Take the next seven days and commit to not complain. If it rains when you were expecting sunshine, don’t complain. If your boss levies unrealistic expectations, don’t complain. If you get an email that frustrates you, don’t complain. As you work on not complaining, surface positive aspects that help shift your perspective.
- HANDWRITE NOTES: Carve out quality time where you can think of ten people who unknowingly impacted your life. Then handwrite, yes with pen and paper, ten thank-you notes. Tell them specifically why you are thankful for them and how your life has been impacted by them. Think of the step you are taking as you have the notes written and mailed in the next seven days.
- INTENTIONAL COMPLIMENT: Give one specific compliment to someone every day for the next seven days. Avoid general statements like, “You did great on that project.” Give specific details focused on what the person did and how it impacted you and the team. Be intentional in this step. It is in the specificity of the compliment that true gratitude is revealed.
- RANDOM ACT OF GENEROSITY: Once a day, for the next seven days, extend a random act of generosity. It can be to someone you know or a complete stranger. Randomly pay for someone’s lunch or buy a gift card and leave it on someone’s desk. Don’t do it to get applause but do it because you want to dive into being generous
Once you are done with the seven days, reflect on how your focus has shifted. How has the intentional commitment to live a life of gratitude impacted your perspective? If you are willing, commit to do all five over the next five weeks. Enjoy the journey of showing gratitude and seeking outlets to be generous.