Gratitude for Growth

“Finding gratitude and appreciation is key to resilience. People who take the time to list things they are grateful for are happier and healthier.” – Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg said those words at a commencement speech in 2016, at the University of California, Berkeley, just over a year after losing her husband Dave.

Her attitude exemplifies what we should all take to heart: that in the worst of circumstances, you can learn so much.

Gratitude comes with awareness

A major element of gratitude is awareness: of self and of the world around you. And it’s not just in talking about the world around you or thinking about why you should be grateful but in actually noticing it. 

Do any gratitude exercise and you’ll likely end up sitting and thinking about reasons to be grateful. You’ll doubtless come up with many: your family, your health and so on. What you’re experiencing at that point isn’t gratitude or awareness but simply a reminder that, when things aren’t going well in business or life, things could in fact be a lot worse. Your brain is thinking that it should be grateful, but are you in fact feeling it?

Instead, what if you sat down and really looked around at your life, the people in it and what they are going through, how they are living day to day, right now in the present? Something as small as feeling warm by the fire while it’s blizzarding outside can give you an immense feeling of gratitude. You need to be aware of those feelings in order to feel grateful for them and ultimately, share them with others.

Learning to experience life with a sense of gratitude is how you keep that feeling alive. It’s not about a cerebral assessment of your actions or those of others; it’s about being mindful and noticing what is right in front of you.

Here’s an example: think of how you feel when you talk to someone you know and they give you good news. It’s satisfying and a nice feeling, right? Try this: the next time someone calls you with good news, really be in the moment and feel the rush of emotion that comes with the happy occasion. That emotion is, at least in part, gratitude.

Gratitude goes hand in hand with learning

“If everything was perfect, you would never learn and you would never grow.” – Beyoncé

The ability to learn is key to growth. People who don’t learn from their experiences, their failures, and the valuable feedback given by others will not be able to grow. 

When you work from a place of gratitude, you are more open to the opportunities and more prepared to deal with the obstacles that come your way.

Sheryl Sandberg, in the same speech quoted above, also had this to say: “And when the challenges come, I hope you remember that anchored deep within you is the ability to learn and grow. You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up, draw on it when you need it. In that process you will figure out who you really are — and you just might become the very best version of yourself.”

Learning and growing from a place of gratitude for what you already have, know and can share with others is the ideal. That’s how you build resilience and the ability to take on whatever challenges come your way, in business and in life.

Give gratitude to receive it

“When you give appreciation in order to get something it’s manipulation and people can sense it. Appreciate genuinely.” – Marilyn Suttle

Appearing grateful in order to secure a desired outcome is, as the quote says, disingenuous at best, and people will pick up on that. Instead, you need to cultivate a mindset that includes gratitude. 

When you genuinely praise someone for their efforts, you are sharing your gratitude with them. Sharing in that way will always come back to you in a positive way. So many people don’t take the time to genuinely thank others, but if you do, you are making a positive impression that will go far.

“When someone goes out of their way to acknowledge that something you did really had an impact, time stops–even if just for that moment while you take in someone’s gratitude.” (Source)

Ideally, if you make the effort to keep a Grounded in Gratitude Journal, you can be both mindful in the present, as well as have a resource to look back on when the chips are down, to bring you back to a place of gratitude, no matter what is going on around you.

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