Every time tragedy strikes, we are reminded of how lucky we are to be alive. Whether it’s Hurricane Maria that hit a few months ago or a missing submarine off the coast of Argentina, we all seem programmed to count our blessings in the aftermath.
Perhaps this is our way of coping with that uncomfortable, overwhelming feeling of uncertainty; the ‘What if it Were Me?’ phenomenon. Retreating into our comfortable corners, we scroll through the reasons why we are lucky to be alive and then once our frenzy subsides, we look to giving and helping others in an effort to be useful.
But what if we were able to engage in the same thought process before tragedy struck? Without being prompted to whenever something unexpected hits.
Recently, I joined a workplace that made it a tradition to sit around the table and share moments of gratitude with one another. I found this exercise quite challenging at first. It took me a while to come up with something to share. I had to wade through the mental clutter of instances I was upset by before settling on something I was thankful for.
However, as more Monday morning meetings came and left, I became faster at identifying the one thing I was grateful for that week. I realized that this new mindset of being grateful bled into other aspects of my life, affecting how I perceived challenges, engaged with coworkers and experienced life.
It wasn’t so much a painful process as it was an unfamiliar one; a mental exercise I wasn’t accustomed to practicing in my daily life.
So, for those of you looking to learn a new skill – why not try engaging in grateful speech? It only takes a few minutes out of your day and, with time, the results are invaluable.
Now, keeping with the tradition of “certain events” and “special occasions” triggering grateful speech, let us give thanks this Thanksgiving season.
Or, in the style of one of my favorite poems by Elizabeth Barrett Browning …
How grateful are thee? Let us count the ways:
1. Muniba Mazari: Live Every Moment
“Real happiness lies in gratitude, so be grateful, be alive, and live every moment.”
2. Sheryl Sandberg: Find Your Gratitude
“But for the first time, I’m grateful for each breath in and out. I’m grateful for the gift of life itself. I used to go to bed every night worrying about all the things I did wrong that day, and trust me, the list was wrong. Now I go to bed trying to focus on that day’s moments of joy.”
3. Mark Mero: Love
“My whole life was about being rich and famous. I had to be a millionaire. I had to win the race. I had to win the race at the expense of my marriage, my family, my friends. For what? To be all alone in the world? I learned what is truly important, and that is how precious this gift of life is and our families and how quickly it can be taken away.”
4. Tim Minchin: Live to Learn
“Remember, it’s all luck. You are lucky to be here. You are incalculably lucky to be born. Understanding that you can’t truly take credit for your successes, nor truly blame others for their failures, will humble you and make you more compassionate.”
5. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Dare to Take
“That experience has made me rethink many things, what truly matters and what doesn’t, what I value and what I don’t. Think about what really matters to you. Think about what you want to really matter to you.”
For more inspiring videos, check out our Thanksgiving Playlist here.