Our month spent focusing on The Gift of Gratitude was phenomenal, filled with laughs, happy tears and lots of fun gratitude videos from our ALV family. We've spent some time reflecting on all we learned in November have compiled the ALV 9, our top 9 takeaways from blogs, videos, research, coaching, ALV Live with Priya Shah and all your thoughts and ideas in ALV Connect. So let's have at it:
Don't wait for something negative to enjoy the positive
Of course life is a series of ups and downs, and when you are in a down, you have a new perspective on how high that up was. It's natural. As I mentioned in my blog on gratitude, a concerted effort to identify and be grateful for all the ups you are currently living in can help you feel the same level of happiness and appreciation, hopefully without having to experience the down.
Don't postpone gratitude for certain milestones
They call them milestones for a reason. They are something separated by a long distance. Most of your life is spent in the space between the milestones, so it doesn't make sense to postpone your gratitude or joy for some point potentially far into the future. Learn to appreciate the journey because the journey is the reality in which you live. Absolutely celebrate the milestone once it's reached, but don't underestimate the power of the moments in between and the impact your perception of them can have on your life.
Appreciate the little things and savor them
A cup of coffee. A sunny day. A birthday card. All are beautiful, small things to be grateful for and not to rush past. Start to recognize the little things in life, as Priya Shah would define as The Simple Good. Savor those moments of appreciation and even document them and share them with the world to enjoy too using #thesimplegood. And if you're not up for sharing them publicly, document them for yourself. A small task, like journaling for just 5 minutes a day about what you're grateful for can lead to a stronger immune system, higher levels of positive emotion, more joy and optimism, feeling less lonely, according to The 5 Minute Journal, one of our favorite gratitude tools.
Gratitude makes you more successful
Foram explained in her coaching insights video that when you express gratitude often, people want to be around you. It gravitates people toward you. This is a positive contributor to your reputation and others' willingness to support you and can significantly enhance your career success. As quoted in this Forbes article, Geoffrey James states, "People who approach life with a sense of gratitude are constantly aware of what's wonderful in their life. Because they enjoy the fruits of their successes, they seek out more success. And when things don't go as planned, people who are grateful can put failure into perspective."
Appreciate people as well as things
We often focus on material things when thinking about gratitude and forget to identify the people we are fortunate for in our lives. Most of the time, it is the people which bring us more joy than the things, so we shouldn't overlook the value of being grateful for them. Take a moment to think about the people in your life who listen to you, support you, are fun to be around, who love you. I'll bet you'll find a lot to be grateful for.
Express your gratitude
In last month's 20 Minute Life Changer, we had the opportunity to reflect on how it feels to be appreciated and how it feels when those around us don't recognize our efforts or contributions. You may think it's understood that you appreciate the people in your life, but often people just aren't sure until you say it out loud! We also learned that writing a gratitude letter to a loved one can improve your happiness and wellbeing for up to 6 months after the exercise. Expressing gratitude makes others feel great and makes you feel great in the process.
Identify the flip side to your problems
Remember to always put your challenges into perspective. What is the flip side to the annoyances and struggles of daily life? Grrr it sucks so bad that my flight was delayed. But wait I'm so lucky to have the opportunity to travel. What a pain, my laptop won't work. Hold on a sec, I'm fortunate to have a fancy computer. Chances are, most of the time when something bad happens to us, the situation that even afforded us the opportunity for the bad thing to happen, someone else would love to be in. There are people who do not have the means for a laptop or to travel, so certainly take your moment to be frustrated, but also put that frustration into perspective and appreciate the flip side of your problem.
Everyone is going through something
As Katie wrote in her blog post, "Why Me (And How Did I Get So Lucky)", it is easy to get caught up in our own, personal struggles and forget to realize that everyone is going through something. You may think, "What do I have to be grateful for when I'm dealing with such a hardship?" And you may be. But there are people out there who are dealing with trying hardships too in areas of your life that are not challenging for you. Maybe you are having relationship issues, but you have a great career. Maybe someone else has a great relationship but is struggling with weight issues. We all have our personal struggles, and we all have so much to be grateful for too. It is in our darkest times that it is most important to recognize all the light in our lives.
Recognizing that everyone has their own challenges is a great way to begin building your capacity for compassion. Who knows what another person is going through and what your small contribution to their life could mean to them. Priya said during ALV Live, "Never forget the type of impact you're having on someone else. Even if it's a stranger, a loved one, or someone you're just driving past. These small energies really do make a difference." She went on to encourage us to think about how our own stress relief or positivity could be impacting those around us. We will always have days when our stress gets the best of us, but we should do our best to be compassionate. Be kind. Be the Simple Good in someone's day.
Though December has come to a close, I hope you'll continue to integrate these takeaways into your life. There is no such thing as too much gratitude or too much expression of it. Keep this list handy "“ when you're feeling down, read it. I hope you'll find that you have much to be grateful for, and that the more you choose to savor it, the more and more blessings come your way.