hugh anthony, certified lifestyle speaker · author · lifestyle coach
We live in a world where feeling and being grateful doesn’t come naturally. Becoming aware that there is always something to be thankful for, conjures a state of thinking and then the question: what is it that I am grateful for? I am not saying that you ought to in a perfunctory manner go make a list, just for the sake of it now. However, I would encourage you to be reflective and explore how you can cultivate a culture of gratitude.
“Expressing gratitude instantly shifts your energy. It puts you in harmony with your source of supply, so that the good in everything moves toward you.”
– Bob Proctor
Understanding what gratitude is helps us to ‘pay it forward’. Gratitude emerges from the simple ability to breathe and an emotional acknowledgment that you’re alive. That is one of the greatest things to be thankful for. Positive psychology contends “that gratitude is more than feeling thankful for something; it is more like a deeper appreciation for someone (or something,) which produces more long-lasting positivity”. Let us start from there, carpe diem the act of making the most of the day and thankful for being alive. Interestingly, it is giving energy or effort to a process that requires a deep appreciation and acknowledgment of the impact and manifestation of gratitude. Our individual experiences may be different; however, gratitude allows us to experience life in meaningful ways and connects us with the possibilities within us and the world we live in.
“Today I choose gratefulness in this moment; I’m alive, happier, healthier, wiser, stronger and richer because I choose to celebrate this moment with gratitude.”
– Hugh Anthony
I have been living in the state of gratitude for a very long time by making a commitment to consciously cultivate an ‘attitude of gratitude’. How did I do this you might ask? It emerged from a childhood conversation I had with my beloved mother about being thankful and having good manners. In a candid and powerful way, she advised me to be thankful in all things and to cultivate good manners, noting “it will carry a far way.” In my curious and hubristic state at the time, I retorted…”but Mom, manners is not money!!” and she responded by sharing a story. The story was about a piglet who asked his mother a question: ‘why his mouth was so long? The mother pig responded by saying, “[my son] be thankful for it, you are growing, you will understand one day, that you need it to live.” Indeed, I am grateful for that parental advice and it has affirmed goodness in my life ever since.
“Gratitude is the moral memory of [hu]mankind. If every grateful action were suddenly eliminated, society would crumble.”
– Georg Simmel
By cultivating a culture of gratitude and good mannerism, it has allowed me to be thankful for the amazing experiences I have had in my life. They have brought happierness, wisdom, healthier and more enriched life experiences, perspectives and well-being. You can start with the simple act or gesture of acknowledgment by saying thank you for…. your help or your time…..I appreciate what you have done for me, my family, our customers and the organization. A research done by the University of California Berkeley titled Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude found that people who practice gratitude consistently reported a host of benefits ranging from being healthier, experiencing positive emotions, enriching relationships, more joy, optimism, happiness, generosity, compassion and heightened sense of community and camaraderie.
“Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.”
– Brian Tracy
You cannot develop a sense of gratitude unless you acknowledge that there is something to be thankful for. Here are four ways to develop a culture of gratitude:
- Acknowledge and Affirm Goodness – By acknowledging that you are grateful to be alive and waking up to another day is a good start. By affirming the aforementioned it fosters endless possibilities and engenders more good around you. It reinforces that you appreciate the gift of life and you are willing to make the most of the 1440 minutes in the day. Robert Emmons in his book Why Gratitude is Good, highlighted that “it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received.” When you make time to acknowledge and affirm the goodness around you, it can have an amazing impact on the quality of your life.
- Voicing with Meaningfulness and Intentionality – Give voice to the things you are grateful for and the goodness you experience. In so doing, you breathe life into your voice with intentionality and meaningfulness. Psychiatrist Monisha Vasa noted that “…words or conversation can be brief, but when they come from the soul, they can be life changing.” So give voice to gratitude by expressing what you are grateful for. Sharing that you are happy, joyful and healthy or experience a challenge that hast taught you a lesson or two can bring different perspectives and outlook on life and living. By giving voice to gratitude it becomes more meaningful for yourself and others, and you will start making gratitude your mantra.
“When you practice gratefulness, there is a sense of respect toward others.”
– Dalai Lama
- Cultivate Good Mannerisms and Altruism – This is an understated aspect of building a culture of gratitude is your mannerisms. It tells more about you without you being vociferous. This is where your actions align with your attitude. The attitude of gratitude often speaks louder than words can say about you and the things you do. Start using attitudinal expressions ‘please’ and ‘thanks’; I appreciate you for…..I am grateful for. Foster a spirit of altruism, by doing something for others who cannot afford to pay you back. Volunteer at a hospice, a food bank, youth camp or find ways to pay it forward.
- Practice Gratitude Exercises – Take a leap of faith and explore activities you can do, even if it is a random act of kindness. Positive Psychology highlights that “…acts of gratitude and gratitude exercises are not only beneficial to the people receiving the praise, but even more so, to the one who performs the act.” There are a number of activities from simply writing a thank you letter to someone, you did not get a chance to properly thank. Start by doing a 21-day exercise of writing a gratitude list of the things you are thankful for. For example, write three things down every day for three weeks that reflects gratitude. Or better yet, start a journal on the things you acknowledge and affirm as you live, breathe and experience acts of kindness, lessons learnt from challenges, what makes you more mindful, compassionate and selfless. There is no right or wrong way to start a gratitude exercise; however noting your activities will help you become emotionally aware, mindful, become more resilient and foster well-being.
By being host to behaviors and habits that reinforce gratitude, your best self will always emerge. Start by taking simple steps and think about how they can improve your life and well-being. These steps will contribute to a life where you celebrate more about you and your experiences, those who have helped along the way; rather than focusing on complaining about your mistakes or what is not going okay.
Hugh Anthony is a certified lifestyle speaker, author and lifestyle coach for executives, creative and transitioning professionals. He is committed to helping individuals transform their passions into possibilities to enhance value creation by harnessing their lifestyle and experience to be more meaningful, profitable and purposeful.
Hugh Anthony is the Co-Founder | Consulting Lifestyle Director of Consulate| Milieu®, a boutique lifestyle consultancy firm based in Toronto, Canada that specializes in coaching, live and virtual events, training workshops an avid lifestyle projects for its diverse clientele. He is an authority on public speaking and presents on topics relating to speaking and presentation, leadership and value creation. His forthcoming book The Ultimate Guide to Public Speaking: 7 Steps to Professional Mastery will be published Summer 2018.