They say that “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.”
Who is “they”, and how do “they” know when or what I should be grateful for?
Every day we are forced into believing that we should be grateful for what we have or else.
The else of course is looking like…well, ungrateful in the eyes of those around you and we all know that being ungrateful is a fast track to becoming a social pariah.
Gratitude has gone from a meaningful state, to a hashtag filled with memes and overused quotes telling us what we should do, feel and experience.
We live in a world where we are constantly told to be more mindful, more authentic and more grateful…but what if “more” is not the answer.
Being grateful, much like mindfulness and authenticity are all words that come with some mighty small fine print which most people neglect to read.
Throughout my 20’s I wasn’t grateful. In fact, I was pretty arrogant and felt entitled. It wasn’t until the universe showed up, with karma riding shotgun that I learned some tough but necessary life lessons. It’s sad that it sometimes takes us to experience the worst in life before we can appreciate how good we truly have it.
The benefits of gratitude have been well documented and studied for years and for those who practice this, understand that developing a grateful mindset can increase optimism, lessen depression, and create greater happiness to name just a few benefits.
Sounds good right?
I mean, who wouldn’t want to shift from feeling crappy to happy by simply acknowledging their blessings. I know I would.
The challenge lies in how we do this.
Gratitude can definitely help you, but only when it’s accompanied with a healthy dose of self-awareness, a sense of how you are, and knowing where you are in your life.
Let’s call this reality.
I recognized this first hand in my previous career as a global creative director in the world of advertising.
There I was at the ripe old age of 24, sitting in my corner office, making a solid six-figures trying convince everyone around me how happy I was when in reality I was miserable. In fact, I was probably depressed but you would never know it because I was…wait for it…supremely grateful. C’mon, I had achieved what many others might aspire to have, so for me to be anything less than grateful could come off as arrogant or simply ungrateful.
I always used blanket statements with “how grateful I was for my job” even though I was hating every minute of it.
” I was using gratitude as a crutch to ignore what was really going on for me”
It took me a while to see it but once I did, I couldn’t un-see it.
My story is quite common for many others who will misuse gratitude to hide from the truth and avoid making the life changes and tough decisions we know we need to make. I eventually made the tough decision by literally falling into coaching but that’s another story you can read all about here.
We all know that, that suppressing our emotions is never a winning long-term strategy. What’s needed is:
- A balance of being grateful for what you have but recognizing and honoring what you need.
Here are a few ways to practice being grateful with supporting links so you can get started:
- Establish a gratitude ritual using a daily journal.
- Show some self-compassion.
- Practice random acts of kindness.
- Tell someone you love them and how much you appreciate them.
- Stop, pause and notice the beauty in each moment each day.
- Nurture the friendships you have, good friends don’t come along every day.
- Smile more often. Science says so.
- Watch an inspiring video to lift your spirits.
- Volunteer for organizations that help others.
- Add to your gratitude list daily, at least one more thing each day.
- Try to see the positive side in every situation.
- Commit to one day a week when you won’t complain about anything.
- Acknowledge those who do a good job.
- Say “Thank You” more often.
- Post quotes and images that remind you to be grateful around your house.
- Recognize obstacles as opportunities in disguise.
- Learn from your mistakes.
- When times are tough, notice those who are by your side.
Final Thoughts: There’s no doubt that being (more) grateful can definitely increase the quality of your life. It’s also worth noting that practicing gratitude will look completely different for each person. Some may keep a daily journal, while others use guided meditation and some may decide to follow a self-proclaimed expert on social media. Whatever you choose, I invite you to consume in moderation and remember “more isn’t always better” – sometimes simply being a better version of yourself is all that’s needed.
The floor is yours: Do you practice gratitude and if so, how?
With Leadership, Joshua | www.JoshHMiller.com
Joshua Miller is a Master Certified Executive Coach, creative leader and bestselling author. His career spans both the advertising world and the world of leadership. In advertising, he was the creative lead, responsible for the campaign strategy for Fortune 100 brands. Today, he is an innovator. He’s supporting the executive development and change management for many of the same companies.
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