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You’re blessed. Here’s the thing about blessings. They’re real and they exist even if you don’t recognize them. But I hope you do – recognize them.
Yesterday was Independence Day here in America. It’s one of those holidays where Americans celebrate with fireworks, cookouts and family get-togethers. Some of us take time to be thankful for the people in our lives. Pictured in that graphic to illustrate today’s show are my 5 grandkids. The little people in my life are an enormous part of my gratitude. These kids illustrate better than anything how blessed I am. I hope you’ve got little kids somewhere in your life. If not, then I hope you’ve got younger people. Older people. Just people who make all the difference to your world.
I’m using the verb “embrace” because we all need to be devoted to clutching and holding tightly onto both gratitude and optimism. These are two things that none of us can get enough of.
Gratitude is the recipe for negative pride, conceit and entitlement. It’s also the recipe for what many of us do – we focus on what we don’t have that we want. That concentration on the negative has to be overcome if we’re going to increase our optimism.
If I’m constantly thinking about how bad things are, how I don’t have the things I want, or the performance I want, or the revenues or anything else…then I’m going to lean toward complaining. It’s the natural progression of where our minds take us. What we focus on becomes a growing obsession. Lack and want leap out because that’s what we’re looking at. We’re compelled to talk about it and articulate it. To anybody who will listen. Intentional or unintentional. It’s why business owners sometimes find themselves having said things they don’t even remember. “I didn’t say that, did I?” is an all too common refrain. We’ve all been guilty.
“Did I say that out loud?”
Yep. And the reason is simple. We were thinking about it. Constantly.
Which is why what we think is so important. And why gratitude has to be an intentional act for us.
Try a short, simple exercise. Carve out 15 minutes. Shut everything off and out. Go dark for 15 minutes to the world. Book an appointment on your calendar with yourself. Log it so others who have access to your calendar to see it’s an important meeting that isn’t to be interrupted. Keep the appointment.
I don’t know what’s important to you and I’m not going to presuppose to know because it’s not my place to judge. It’s your life. What I will do is share with you what works for me in hopes you can morph some ideas that work for you.
I start thinking about the people in my life who matter. The ones who are still with me. It begins with my wife of over 40 years. My single greatest fear is losing her. But I have a choice. To focus on that possibility or to embrace the truth of my present circumstance — I’m blessed with her presence and partnership right now. And have been for all these years. A whole lot to be thankful for.
From there, there are names and faces of family members, including those 5 grandkids. My family is my tribe. My most important tribe. Okay, they’re my only tribe. 😀
This may be dark – too dark for some of you – but during the initial moments of my effort to increase my gratitude, I imagine losing them. I don’t dwell on any morbid details. I just imagine that they’re no longer here and that spot they now occupy is empty. In mere seconds I’m super thankful to have them. It’s just a launching point for me, but everything else flows easily once I take my mind there.
After I run through a quick catalog of very important things that exist in my life gratitude sweeps over me. I try to get there as quickly as I can so I can linger there as long as possible. For me, that’s the key. To get to gratitude quickly and to stay there as long as possible.
It’s not about hitting the 15-minute mark and then going back to whatever level of ingratitude we may have had. It’s about intentionally taking our mind to the place where we can quickly revisit it throughout every single day.
Whatever tactic you employ, figure one out. Keep working on it. You have an enormous list of things to be thankful for.
Those things then serve to fuel your optimism. Partly because they fuel your reason for doing whatever you’re doing. They help you clarify your purpose. It’s like a guidance system for your life and career.
Optimism is the belief that the future you see will happen. It’s largely steeped into the belief that it’s already happened. That’s our magic as humans. We can play all these “what if” games in our head. For us, in our minds, they’re real. Not just imagined. The more we’re able to hold that, the more our mind engages to alter our actions and behaviors. In short, we begin to behave in ways that are congruent with our beliefs. Even about things that have yet to be realized.
That’s why your optimism matters. It impacts your actions, which determine your results. There is no way to grow great without gratitude and optimism.
Be well. Do good. Grow great!
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