Choose gratitude… You’ll be grateful you did!
We are challenged daily with the realities of life, nearly every day has a diverse mixture of experiences, some inherently bring you up because of how they feel and what they mean to us, and others bring us down. In my opinion, much of this is relating to how we choose to interpret the experiences.
I’m going to let everyone in on a little secret of mine… I can’t stand fake people! I’m sure I’ll write in the future about my belief that being “genuine” to yourself and others is one of the most important things you can do on a daily basis. For the purposes of this blog I just wanted to throw out there that I find the action of being fake to be unhelpful in most circumstances. I say this, prefacing what I’m about to say, because I believe wholeheartedly that “perfect people” don’t exist, but the action of them being fake “perfect” makes them inaccessible to the rest of the population in any way that is useful to be learned from. I don’t know about anyone else, but I tend to find value in mistakes, they teach us what NOT to do again, and given the right attitude, those mistakes can be the best teaching tools for others if we are genuine about them.
There… The cat is out of the bag, I’m not perfect… Anyone shocked by that? I’m not, I have a long-history of being less than perfect, so I guess I just take it for granted that I make a fair number of mistakes like anyone else, and that my days/weeks/months/years consist of an equal percentage of negatives and positives.
The other day I was asked by a student what I’ve learned after years of making mistakes. After rattling off quite a few of my life mistakes in rapid succession my answer was simple…
It’s not worth trying to NOT make mistakes, you’ll just continue to make them, the important thing is to avoid making the SAME mistakes more than once if you can help it. If you spend your life regretting the mistakes you have made, or dwelling on the circumstances of your life, you will not only NOT change history, but also end up focusing an unhealthy amount of time thinking about what has been or could have been. Instead, focus on what you’re grateful for from those mistakes or circumstances and not only will you move past them with grace, but will adopt an entirely different way of looking at the things you can and cannot control… perhaps a different way of looking at life in general.
Every day of our lives we are dealt some cards, some of them we just had coming, some were downright our own doing, some we earned through hard work, some you wouldn’t deal to your worst enemy if you had the chance. When you look at the hand you have been dealt, good or bad, do you have a victim mindset of “why me?!” or “Why was I so stupid?!” or are you grateful the cards you were dealt were not much worse?
It’s a bit of a mental trick, or in psychobabble “cognitive reframing”, but if you can teach yourself to see the bad cards with a mindset of “I’m grateful it wasn’t much worse” and the good cards with “I’m grateful I earned that” etc. then you tend to be grateful no matter the circumstance… And if you’re grateful no matter the circumstance I would argue that you have the ability to face any obstacles in life with your newly found attitude of gratitude.
Take the time to review just the past 24 hours of your life. Classify each experience as good or bad… Now take the time to systematically focus on each experience and be grateful for each one of them. As hard as some individual experiences may have been, focus on them and look for the good until you can truly be grateful for it. I promise you, if you do this every day, you will begin to do this subconsciously and find yourself full of gratitude.
Choose gratitude…. You’ll be grateful you did!
Rory K. McLaughlin, CEO