This time of year always reminds me to be thankful. Thankful for my husband and our two beautiful sons. Thankful that I get to do work I love with bright people around me. Thankful for old friends far away and new friends close by. Thankful that I will get to spend the holidays with my family. Yes, Thanksgiving is always a great time to remember things for which you are grateful, but is giving thanks something you do regularly? If not, consider why you should.
At an EcSell Institute summit a little while back, our participants had the opportunity to listen to an amazing speaker, Scott Hunter. Scott shared many important insights and messages with us, but the one that has stuck with me the most is the importance of intentionally focusing on what is right with our lives. Scott talked with us about the inner voice inside all of us that tends to fill us with worrisome and negative thoughts about things we haven’t done yet or haven’t done well enough. It’s something I know I struggle with, especially when I lay in bed at night waiting for sleep to come. But Scott also taught us an effective way to quiet that inner voice – by focusing on what we are grateful for. He had us take a few minutes to create a “gratitude list” of everything that we loved about our life. My gratitude list included the most important things in my life (my husband and our sons), meaningful things (my work and the opportunity to learn), silly things (the way my dog greets me), and even material things (call me shallow, but I love my iPad). It was probably the most enjoyable list I’ve ever made in my life.
But my gratitude list isn’t just a trivial thing that was fun for me to make, it also a useful tool that I refer to over and over again. Whenever I find myself starting to worry and consumed with negative thoughts, I read my gratitude list. It helps to quiet those negative thoughts and gets me focused on what I can do, rather than worrying about what I can’t. It’s amazing how easy it is to get caught up in what is going wrong and how challenging it is to focus on what’s going right. So this holiday season, I encourage you to take a moment and make your own gratitude list. You will probably be surprised by how many people, things, events, etc. for which you are truly thankful. And don’t forget to pull out this list whenever you find yourself focused too much on what’s going wrong. Take a moment to intentionally cultivate an “attitude of gratitude” and you can maintain that Thanksgiving spirit year-round.
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