Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year. Not just because I’m surrounded by spectacular cooks who create some of my favorite dishes or round the clock football games. It is also the time of the year where we take time to say thank you and think of all that we have to be grateful for. This past year has been one where both Jennifer and I probably took more time off and traveled more than ever before. This makes me thankful for a loving wife I enjoy spending time with, a great staff to take care of things when I am gone and wonderful clients who are very supportive of efforts to rejuvenate and recharge our batteries so that our work days are more fruitful.
As time goes on I find myself enjoying my family, my clients and my work activities increasingly. Being able to delegate the items that are not as enjoyable or are not my strengths tends to improve our service. It’s funny how some people love and are great at things that we might enjoy less.
Giving thanks also helps us focus on how far we have come and what we have going for us rather than comparing to an arbitrary ideal and fretting over the fact that we have not reached perfection yet, When we are continually focused on progress instead of perfection and give ourselves time to think over how much we can be grateful for, life has so much more joy.
One of the most powerful favors you can do for yourself is expressing authentic gratitude.
Yes, that sounds counter-intuitive especially during this season of Thanksgiving. Isn’t saying thanks a gift to the other person?
Think again. Authentic gratitude is a deep benefit to everyone involved.
OUR BRAINS ON GRATITUDE
According to experts who study gratitude and its effect on our ability to survive and thrive, when we say thanks, we program our brain to see positive change.
“When we intentionally and steadily cultivate a practice of gratitude for the people and processes that sustain our life, we expand our perception of our experience back out of a narrow, contracted, survival mode… to a more expansive, more optimistic perspective, where we can again discern options and possibilities,” said Linda Graham, author of Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being. “Resilience is a reliably measurable outcome of cultivating positive emotions such as gratitude.”
MAKING IT EASY
The pursuit of gratitude has triggered a market of accessories, such as apps like Gratitude365 and Gratitude Journal (“Write down 5 things you’re grateful for each day and change your life forever”). These make it easy to incorporate gratitude into your daily life.
Thanksgiving provides a spark for other online resources such as:
- Infographics like Tommy Newberry’s My Thanksgiving Binge gratitude drill.
- Even more gratitude challenges on Facebook, an easy way to build and inspire the gratitude habit.
- These creative ways to cultivate gratitude at work.
- Another 22 gratitude exercises to consider.
- We even created our own internal Happiness Recipe within the office after hearing Shawn Achor speak at a conference earlier this year.
MAKING IT REAL
When life hits warp speed, your best gratitude move might be a simple text “ty.”
What I call Authentic Gratitude takes a little more effort, and it hinges on one word: because.
When you follow an expression of gratitude with because, you are forced to go deeper to connect your values to the object of your gratitude. Specificity and vulnerability make an expression of gratitude more meaningful to the person who communicates it, and to the person who receives it. That’s authentic gratitude.
- I’m thankful for my family because they support me no matter where I am in my journey and I know they will always have my back.
- I’m thankful for our clients because they give our work meaning. There is no better feeling than knowing we have made a positive difference in the lives of others.
- I am thankful for my team because they are an enjoyable group and help us accomplish more, complimenting each other and providing backup when needed.
- I am thankful for my friends and colleagues. Because of them, I am continually supported, motivated and inspired to keep growing and pushing myself.
- I am thankful for mentors and coaches. Because of them we have been able to learn more quickly, hit our goals sooner and enjoy the journey.
- I am thankful for the top of the mountain experiences. These experiences help put me in a peak state for future endeavors.
- I am thankful for the painful memories. Because of the multitude of spectacular highs and lows, the wins and the losses, I can give more and provide meaning to what others may be going through.
- I am thankful for the country we live in. Because we live in a country where we are free to pursue happiness, free to speak our mind and free to pursue our dreams, we have more opportunity for personal fulfillment than most have throughout history.
There is so much all of us have to be thankful for. We just have to put ourselves in the right frame of mind. It’s amazing how much better we feel and how more productive we are when in the right frame of mind.
What do you have to be thankful for?
Data as of November 24th, 2014
Joe D. Franklin, CFP is Founder and President of Franklin Wealth Management, a registered investment advisory firm in Hixson, Tennessee. A 20-year industry veteran, he contributes guest articles for Money Magazine and authors the Franklin Backstage Pass blog. Joe has also been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger’s Magazine, USA Today and other publications.
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