On Gratitude


Yesterday morning, as I was preparing for the day, something interesting happened. My thoughts had been an underground stream of worries: family challenges, the possibility that I might be getting another cold, the never ending economic woes. All of a sudden, unbidden, I experienced a deep feeling of gratitude that vanquished my worries. Not just a general sense of gratitude but something very specific:

For the generosity and caring of my friend Jane.For the intensity and boldness of my friend and colleague Cynthia.For the sunshine and warmth on this mid-November day.For the willingness and capability of my husband, Jim, to step up to the plate.For the rich and rewarding professional life I enjoy, and the opportunity to work with really amazing people.

Later, while on a call with Miriam Hawley, I shared the experience and told her I wanted to do a blog post on gratitude but wasn’t quite clear about the link between gratitude and leadership. That began a really rich conversation. Miriam suggested that  “underneath leadership is gratitude.” She described gratitude as a motivator of leadership because leaders gain a larger vision by recognizing what they have to be grateful for.

That led us to reflect on how all the people we really admire are people who can tap into gratitude…”tap into,” not necessarily “swim in” gratitude all the time. I asked, “Is gratitude a perspective?” and she responded, “When you tap into gratitude, you shift your perspective.” We then discussed the various ways we know to tap into gratitude, so as not to have to rely on gratitude showing up unbidden in the midst of worry and suffering.  Here are some ideas:

Miriam Hawley: “Even if I’m fully committed to suffering, it’s hard to stay in that place when I think of what I’m grateful for.”Charlie Kiefer: “You’re only one thought away from a happy thought.”Deborah Reidy: “What if that one thought is the thought, is the bridge?”Miriam Hawley: Subscribe to the daily quotes on gratitude from www.gratefulness.org

How do you cultivate gratitude?  More importantly, what are you grateful for?