“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others”.
Previous posts have mentioned the Toastmasters organisation, I have been a member of our local club, Oxford Orators, for almost two years. It is a wonderful, safe and supportive environment for people of all ages and levels of experience to develop their public speaking and leadership skills. The perseverance members show to advance through the levels, master better skills and gain confidence is encouraging to see.
At last nights meeting, the theme was “Gratitude”, at various times, all members spoke of gratitude in some way. Some of the short, impromptu speeches were the most emotional I have heard, both for the speakers and the audience. Members mentioned their gratitude for their parents, their spouses, their lives, their good fortune to be living in Canada and life itself. Every speaker was grateful for people and / or experiences.
Nobody mentioned “Things”. No mention of houses, cars, financial wealth, expensive holidays.
I have written in earlier posts that some of the most contented and happiest people I have ever met were some of the poorest. People living in tribal areas in Africa. Minimal material possessions, no cars, electricity, indoor plumbing. A battery-powered transistor radio and a bicycle indications of above average status, a three room brick under tin house a sign of wealth. People living hard lives, by our standards, lives of drudgery and misery. But for people whose parents or grandparents had been even worse off, living their equivalent of “The American Dream”.
“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.”
A few years ago, a highly successful business woman, recommended that I should keep a “Gratitude Journal”. As a Boomer generation male brought up in a very macho environment, I resisted, I thought the idea too “flaky” or “new agey”. She persisted, I decided to try it – without admitting it to a soul . It helped, it has been part of my daily routine ever since. Now that I have experienced the benefits, I am happy to recommend it to anyone, I don’t care if that makes me seem more eccentric than I already am.
No matter how bad you might feel, how many problems you may have, whether business, career, debt, illness, relationship, parental or child related, when you have the commitment to write down five things to be grateful for every day, your mood will lighten. Sometimes the first two or three are easy and you might struggle with the rest, but in my experience, I can always find five. It might just be the way the sun reflected off the water in a puddle, a sight of a colourful bird, being on the receiving end of a smile, an unexpected compliment, hearing a favourite song on the radio.
Still stuck trying to reach five? Go back and read your entries for the previous week or month.
It is impossible to be grateful and miserable at the same time, grateful is better.
To find gratitude, we need to appreciate, people, experiences, challenges overcome, goals striven for and achieved, skills learned. Not shiny toys and material things that can disappear in a heartbeat.
Cicero and Epictetus had it worked out two millennia ago, seems like it’s taken a long time for us to appreciate their wisdom.
One last – more recent – quotation:
“To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.”
Johannes A. Gaertner
How is your relationship with gratitude?
Leave a comment and let us know, or call me if the relationship needs improving.