Back in 2001 and 2002, I sank into pessimism, a deep and dark brand of negativity. The world seemed to be a mess with 9/11, terrorism and the aftermath of tech-stock bubble. I struggled to understand unfamiliar facets of a new era in which we unexpectedly found ourselves. Nothing about it felt familiar. And everything about it seemed upside down.
The more my thoughts drifted toward pessimism, the stronger and easier the pull into fear became. As a leader in troubling times, I recognized that I was wearing my attitude on my sleeve. I knew that it was not healthy for me. Nor was it fair to those who relied upon my leadership.
Before it became a downward spiral, I had to snap out of it. Thus, I began to devise a plan that centered on a healthy life-style: eating right, exercising religiously and breathing deeply. Those things helped considerably. But they weren’t enough.
I decided to add a gratitude journal into the mix. That gratitude journal was more of a challenge than I thought it would be. The rules I devised were simple:
- Write down five things at the end of each day
- Feel the depth in each of those five things
- Keep it brief – a word or phrase
- Make people a given and go beyond a name
On first-night of what would become a daily ritual, I sat there for two hours without moving my pen. That’s right. After two hours, I had not thought of one thing for which I was grateful. I was appalled and made a conscious decision to go beyond the motions.
The next day I opened my five senses to face everything around me in new ways. I kept it up, day after day. And the results were amazing. I began to experience the extra-ordinary in the ordinary. The world had not changed. My perspective on it had.
Eventually the appreciative-way of thinking was engrained into my essence. A new thought pattern was present in every day life. I brought a fresh frame of reference to life – in both the good aspects and the challenging situations.
Over a decade later, I no longer write in a gratitude journal. I let go of the rules. And I don’t have a set time to express gratitude.
Gratitude is woven throughout my day. I make the conscious choice each morning to open my senses. That choice drives me to be present and aware. With intentionality, I continue to experience the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.
I know from experience that you will be amazed at the shift you’ll experience with gratitude. Why not start a gratitude journal or establish times in the day to appreciate? Let gratitude start to work for you.