Long before Christ, Marcus Tullius Cicero said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.”
Like many things in life and work, gratitude arises from a process and proceeds according to a process, even though we may be unaware of the process behind the expression. The process of gratitude cannot be easily codified and takes self-discipline, because you can’t delegate any of the responsibility. You must hold yourself accountable.
Living in a state of gratitude means affirming the positive and giving thanks for it. It means living with an expectation that good things will happen, even when misfortune appears to hold the upper hand. Monte Farner and Amy Zerner’s article, “On Gratitude“, states: “Being grateful puts you in the perfect frame of mind for using our affirmation and visualization techniques, designed to help you manifest what you want. Express gratitude for all that you have, both the good and the bad. Doubts will impede your intentions, but when you are thankful and feel fulfilled, your goals will manifest much more easily.”
Gratitude may seem more of an art than a process, because so many people approach it in so many different ways. Some maintain lists of all the small mercies for which they are grateful. Other practice daily meditation and affirmation techniques. Still others simply rely upon their faith to find the strength and grace to live in gratitude. However you do it, an attitude of gratitude prevents despair when all the world seems to be gunning for your abject failure. Helen Russell’s article “How to Start a Gratitude Practice” outlines her process for living a life of gratitude: “commit, begin, write it down, feel it, choose a set time, practice present-moment gratitude, share the gratitude, don’t stop once you start to see results, and allow yourself to be human.”
Perhaps the greatest gift manifested by gratitude is peace achieved through forgiveness. We all make mistakes. Most errors don’t threaten that which is sacred–life–and can be fixed. Even those that cannot be fixed should not condemn us, for they grievously hurt those who err, too. Forgive, affirm, be grateful, find peace.
The rest is all worldly trappings. When you are imbued with gratitude, you will find a measure of serenity that enables you to take the necessary step backward to analyze what’s wrong and to take the necessary steps to fix it without crushing the good work and morale of others. Simply put, your gratitude should foment the gratitude of your family, friends, and colleagues–that’s the sharing part of Russell’s process. Those whom you support in such a manner will return that gracious toward you in spades.
From The Heggen Group to you: Happy Thanksgiving. We are thankful for the opportunities our clients extend to us to improve their businesses, because it is our practice to share the processes that make gratitude possible.