Gratitude: The Elixir of Life

Today I want to share with you the idea of gratitude, and of having an attitude of gratitude. I’m sure you remember being told to be grateful for things as a child; most of us have that memory. And being grateful is certainly a decision we make – we decide whether to have an attitude of gratefulness or not. It’s an attitude where you choose not to focus on the mess of the situation you’re in right now, not to focus on the negative, but to look for things you can be thankful for and grateful about. That’s why I say it’s like the elixir of life – an attitude of gratefulness really can make messy situations seem so much better. 

Changing the focus

Now I know the reason you are here in the first place is because you are unhappy at work. But are you unhappy about everything?

Let me share a story with you so you can see how important this is. A while back I asked one of my clients, a lovely lady called Karen, what she was grateful for at work. She took one look at me and to be honest I wasn’t sure what she was going to say! In the end she said this:

“Haven’t you been listening to everything I’m putting up with, all that mess that’s going on in my work life? How can you ask what I like? There’s nothing I like!”

I thought for a moment and then I responded. “Well, there’s only one way we’re going to start working and moving forward on your work life,” I said, “and that’s when you begin to adopt this attitude of gratitude.”

What are you grateful for?

It’s easy to focus on everything that’s going wrong. It’s what most of us do. But it doesn’t do anything to help us foster an attitude of gratitude.

So if you can identify with Karen’s situation, start looking for things to be grateful for in your working day. Perhaps the receptionist always greets you with a smile when you walk into the building. Perhaps you are fortunate to get an hour for lunch every day, even if you hate the job you do. It could be anything, but sit down for a few moments and make a list of all the things you can think of that you are grateful for, however small they might be. Use a notepad, a journal, a Dictaphone – whatever works for you.

In fact, make a point of doing this at least twice every day. Some days things will happen that cheer you up, and it could be something very simple indeed. Perhaps a colleague bought you a tempting pastry from that nice bakery down the road today. Maybe someone who usually doesn’t have time for you actually said hello this morning. Add even the tiniest things to your list. Think about what you like, what you’re glad about and what you’re grateful for.

Do you need a gratitude focus?

Let me just segue for a second here and share the story of my little stones. Now there is nothing special about these stones – they’re really just small pebbles, small enough to pop in my pocket or handbag or to put next to my bed. But every time I see one of them, it acts as my little prompt to be grateful. Maybe you could find a suitable prompt too?

An attitude of gratitude leads to transformation

Let’s go back to my client Karen for a moment. She couldn’t believe the simple act of adopting an attitude of gratitude could do anything to improve her working life. But you know, it did – and it does for lots of other people who try it every day too. It can work for you as well.

You see, when we begin to turn our attention to the things we are grateful for, even in the mess of our working lives, something happens to us. The situation may not have changed, but we have changed. Our attitude changes. We become much more equipped and stand in a much better place to do something about the situation we find ourselves in.

So as you go to work this week, think about adopting an attitude of gratitude and see what happens. Oh, and don’t forget to keep in touch and let me know how things change for the better for you!