Putting an attitude of gratitude into practice, while difficult, is powerful. No amount of your favorite quotes or kitty posters or positive self-talk can ensure you have an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude is an actual expression of being thankful for something and then reacting with some form of expression of your appreciation AND a willingness to repay your thankfulness.
Every leader I respect and admire has a significant attitude of gratitude. They don’t hide from reality, they aren’t super upbeat and positive all of the time and they certainly aren’t ignorant to the struggles in their life or in others’. They simply have a heart of thankfulness and express it in many ways.
If you are wondering how to gauge your level of gratitude take this simple GRATITUDE TEST. It’s really quite simple. Make a list of the 10 most important people in your personal life on one sheet of paper and on the back, list the 10 most important people in your professional life. For each person, write your answer to these questions:
- Would this person say I have an attitude of gratitude?
- Why would they answer this way?
- How have they personally experienced my attitude of gratitude?
Your response to these questions is a great way to truly test not just your heart but your action. Our intentions rarely do any damage, it is our actions that leave us wishing for something more.
Here is a list of 5 things that will give you this mindset and keep your gratitude muscle in shape.
- Mine for the good
When I send my kids into the backyard to pick up balls, they come back with balls. When I send them into the backyard to pick up dog poop, guess what they come back with? That’s right…POOP. We all tend to find what we are looking for and that is no different with our relationships. If you look for good in others, you will find it. To develop your gratitude muscle, begin to look for the good in others and they will show it to you.
- Trade your thoughts
Just today on Facebook I saw pictures of my friends’ trip to Maui, a picture of a new car, a kid’s acceptance letter to college, amazing family photos, national awards and apparently some awesomeness at Cross Fit. It doesn’t take much for us to look at other people’s lives and not like ours so much. Would you be willing to trade those thoughts, to set aside your discontentment and replace those thoughts with gratitude for what you do have? For the blessings you are experiencing and for the life God has given you to experience. The grass on the other side of the fence may seem greener but remember, it needs mowed too.
- Count your blessings
No really, count them. Make a list of the 50 things you are thankful for. Don’t stop at 20 or 30 or even 40. Make a list and keep adding to it every day.
- Help someone that can’t help themselves
Experience generosity and service to others. It is said that it is better to give than receive, and that is right. When you help someone that either can’t help themselves or can’t repay you, you are part of something that is greater than yourself. Opportunities to serve people are all around you if you will just look up and act.
- Write 100 thank you notes
I carry around a handful of thank you notes and when I am on an airplane or waiting for a meeting or just reflecting on the day, I take a minute to write a thank you note. Many times I look at my calendar and it jogs my memory. Sometimes my note is for something specific and sometimes it is just because. I recommend you commit to sending a note every day or every week for the next 3 months.
Please add to the list and share your thoughts.