I remember my grandmother speaking of gratitude almost daily - but as an “invincible adolescent” - the word didn’t resonate as deeply as it should have at the time. I don’t think I was ungrateful - but I certainly had not learned about the grace and peace found in practicing gratitude.
Derived from the Latin word “gratus” - gratitude, at its core, is the quality of simply being thankful. A readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. But gratitude is more than my feeling thankful for something, it is more like a deeper appreciation for someone (or something,) which produces long lasting emotions. Thankfulness can consist merely of words - gratitude is shown in my actions - and the compassion I show to others.
As I have aged, the scars I carry - formed by every misfortune that has fallen in my path, deaths, illnesses, disappointments, repressions, oppressions, insensitive comments, missed opportunities, betrayals, and the empty promises from people to whom I'd given my trust - all these scars have taught me a lot about the beauty of gratitude. And as my grandmother once did, I am learning to practice gratitude each day. Life has come full circle.
I see beauty in my wrinkled skin, in the crow’s feet around my eyes, in the scar tissue deep in my heart that no one can see but me. For each day and each breath, I am thankful.
Gratitude helps me put situations into perspective. When I open my eyes wide enough to see the good as well as the bad, it becomes more difficult for me to complain. I’ve endured life’s worst lost (burying my child) - and yet, I am able to be grateful - for the time we had, for the memories, for the opportunity to have been Ryan’s dad. Gratitude for the opportunity to love so deeply and fully.
Gratitude helps me realize all I have - and that it is enough. Being aware of blessings (in the midst of difficult situations) curbs my human tendency to simply want more all the time.
Gratitude is the music of the heart. Gratitude makes me a happier person. Gratitude gives me strength, reduces my stress, and, improves my outlook. Gratitude transforms the routine into joy; and causes the ordinary to become extraordinary. Gratitude is the ultimate spiritual practice.
Michael is an executive coach, entrepreneur, investor, and strategist with 30 years of experience leading investor-backed, high-growth organizations.
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