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Experiencing Gratitude

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Thanksgiving Week is upon us which means that almost certainly at some point in the last couple days you stood in a longer than normal line at the grocery store, pondered which recipe might help make your contribution to the Thanksgiving table stand out, and/or experienced stress and anxiety about the beginning of our annual cycle of holiday obligations.  Are you looking for break from “slings and arrows” of the holiday season?  Well, look no further than choosing to experience a moment of deep, authentic, and heartfelt gratitude.

Gratitude and thankfulness share a definition in the dictionary with one word often being used to define the other.  Both represent a physical and mental state of being.  We often talk about “thanks” as if it were a momentary and transactional expression, but gratitude and thankfulness require one to create a state of being that can express itself as a sensation of calm warmth, feeling grounded, experiencing a wave of relief, or an unconscious smile.  To me, these feelings sound like a superior option to the physical jousting of cars and carts at the local shopping center or the emotional jousting of egos and ideology around the dinner table.  Gratitude encompasses the experience as much as any words. Fortunately, gratitude is a chosen state which anyone can achieve.

How can you experience gratitude?  There are many ways and in the middle of a busy, busy week it would do no good to provide you with a gratitude exercise that took longer than five minutes to accomplish.  If you’ve read this far, I’m challenging you to grab a piece of paper and I want you to work through these three steps.

  1. Identify three things about your life that you’re grateful for and appreciate. What aspects of your whole life are you deeply appreciative for?
  2. Identify three things that you sometimes take for granted, but you’re actually very thankful for their presence in your life. What occurs in your life daily that you don’t think about, but that you would sorely miss if it weren’t there?
  3. Identify three people who had a significant positive effect on you and your life? Who would you not be today without the gift of someone else’s time, treasures, and talents?

How are you feeling now?  If you made through the exercise my guess is that your heart rate might be a bit lower, you might be feeling a little “fuller” inside, and that you’ve created yourself a little bubble from the craziness of the week.  Congratulations on making it this far. If you want to take it to the next level pick up the phone and call one of the three people you thought about above.

As a coach, I really strive to practice what I preach to my clients who partner with me in creating a better future for themselves.  In that spirit, and in rapid succession, here are three things from 2018 for which I am deeply grateful.

  1. New Partners and New Opportunities– I am deeply grateful for the people and organizations who allowed me into their lives this year and who partnered with me to create better outcomes for all. Thank you APCM, Senator Natasha von Imhoff and my fellow SNVI staffers, all the legislative staffers who took me under their wing this past year in Juneau, The Strive Group, The WilsonAlbers Company, and all my individual coaching clients. I am grateful for the opportunities you’ve given me and the trust you’ve placed in me.
  2. Forgiving Family– My wife and sons let me head off to Juneau this winter to serve as a Senate Finance Aide. It wasn’t easy for any of us particularly as the legislative sessions wore on and my stints in Juneau stretched from days to weeks. You’re the best and I’m looking forward to spending more this year’s ski season with you.
  3. September– Was September not the best this year? The temperatures were warm, the rain was absent, and the opportunities to be outside and be comfortable during the month was unparalleled.  I know it was a sign of a changing planet, but deep down I really needed a nice fall. This September reminded me of fall in New England from my youth.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.  May this year’s celebration include a side of gratitude to go along with that extra slice of pie.

Jonathan’s Takeaway: The “thanks” in Thanksgiving can get lost in our seasonal expectations and obligations.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed, or just want to add some richness to your life, take a moment to choose to experience gratitude and all the physical, emotional, and societal benefits that come with it. 

 

Jonathan King is a consulting economist and Certified Professional Coach. His firm, Halcyon Consulting, is dedicated to helping clients reach their goals through accountability, integrity, and personal growth. Jonathan has 21 years of social science consulting experience including 15 years in Alaska. The comments in this blog do not necessarily represent the view of employers and clients past or present and are Jonathan’s alone. Suggested blog topics, constructive feedback, and comments are desired at askjonathan@apcm.net.

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