A Choice of Gratitude
I’m blessed to have had many people in my life who demonstrated the benefits of simply being nice. I’m able to interact with and learn from, some of the nicest people on the planet, including my wife, Diane, Ken Blanchard, and others. I’ve learned the science of positive psychology and well being from the wonderful Lisa Zigarmi.
I’m fascinated by the work of organizations like the Greater Good Science Center to advance the concepts of well-being and positivity with hard data, not just pithy recommendations.
Conversely, I’ve learned a lot from people who are, frankly, not nice. Despite the unpleasantness of those interactions, I’m grateful for the experiences. Going through things like that solidify my personal values, my “kindness” mindset, and my decisions. It allows me to confirm to myself that behaving unkindly doesn’t help anyone in the long run and that I need to insulate myself from people who choose to be unkind to others.
I realize that on a practical level, I cannot always “avoid” unkind, negative people. I will cross paths with them, I may have to interact with them on a professional level, or they may be part of a personal circle in some way. But I can choose to guard against deep relationships with those who don’t share the values that are important to me.
The choice is entirely up to me about what kind of person I want to be and the kind of people I engage with regularly. Whenever I can, I choose to be around people who are positive and nice. And, in my interactions with them, I’ve come to realize another trait about many of these people: they are also thankful.
From these experiences, observations of others in this fast-paced world, and research, I know there is only one rational, beneficial choice for me. I choose gratitude. I make a conscious choice to be healthy, happy and inspired.
The choice is entirely up to me about what kind of person I want to be and the kind of people I engage with regularly.
Living from a “place of gratitude” leads to three daily practices, which I encourage you to embrace:
- Knowing & Loving Yourself. Have you taken time to discover your purpose–your “reason for being” on this planet? Take some quiet moments to outline your personal values and the corresponding behaviors that would ensure you are living them out daily. Outline how your behaviors will serve others. Jot down your strengths and celebrate yourself. Kindness begins with loving yourself.
- Observing & Valuing Others. Humans are social creatures. Who do you tend to hang out with? Begin to intentionally surround yourself with people who share your purpose and who hold common values. Be kind to others whether they be friends, family, neighbors or sometimes, even perfect strangers. Don’t take people for granted, and don’t tolerate bad behaviors. Gently coach if they are able to learn, but establish clear boundaries if they aren’t.
- Demonstrating Kindness & Grace. Gratitude should not be confined to a private experience. Make it social. Don’t just think to yourself, “What a great job that person just did with that difficult customer!” Reach out and tell them. Better yet, in some cases, publicly praise them. One of my friends experienced integrity from a business she was interacting with, and she mentioned them publicly (and tagged them) on social media. Practice common courtesy. Be a source of acknowledgment and validation rather than judgment.
It takes discipline, commitment and persistence to incorporate these practices into everyday life. If you choose to embrace these practices, you’ll find that as you live life out of a spirit of gratitude, you will energize and encourage yourself, and the people around you. And that’s something to be thankful for!