Year To Success

Lesson 39: Gratitude and Appreciation

It is the typical Hollywood story that we all have heard: someone we know of on the big screen or TV appears to have it all. He or she has the admiration of millions of fans, beautiful companions, and all the money one can possibly need in a lifetime. Yet this superstar lives in misery and carries out a self-destruct sequence that sometimes even leads to taking his or her own life. The superstar had everything; everything except gratitude.

Gratitude is the state of being grateful or thankful. It is the continual reflection of what’s right with your life rather than the constant dwelling on what’s wrong. Back here in the real world (us non-Hollywood people) gratitude is just as important. Success is often realized with the expression of the internal feeling of gratitude. One who feels true success is far less likely to sink into depression or begin to self-destruct.

Why do most people find it so difficult to have gratitude? It has to do with how our brains function. We can only focus on one thing at a time. While our attention and concentration are in one place, everything else is shut out by our minds. Take a moment right now to look around you and listen to all the sounds. All of this, just a moment ago, was filtered out by your mind as something that was not important to your current thought. Our focus shifts with change. For example, if it started to thunder and lightning outside right now (and you can see or hear it) you would most likely notice. However, after about an hour of continual thunder and lightning, your brain would filter it out as it would background noise. Gratitude is difficult to find because the things we should be most grateful for in our lives rarely change enough to get our attention.

Here are a few gratitude-building steps:

  1. Write down all the things in your life for which you should be grateful. It is okay to be general with statements such as “being alive,” rather than making statements such as “breathing, my heart beating, white blood cells, etc..” However, the more specific you are, the more gratitude you will have.
  2. Really think about NOT having each item on your list above, and what your life would be like. If it really does not matter to you, then the item on the list should be removed or categorized under a more general category.
  3. Consider some of the things we often take for granted. Depending on where you are in the country or world, you may or may not have some of these things: freedom, opportunity, public libraries, clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, abundance of food, electricity, protection.
  4. Think of those less fortunate than you.
  5. Help those less fortunate than you. This does not always involve giving away money. Be creative. There are many ways you can help others by sharing some of the things you possess, including knowledge.

It is important to your success to have gratitude, and it is important to your character to show it. The act of showing gratitude is known as appreciation. Appreciation is the externalization of gratitude usually in the form of words, writing, a gesture, or even just a look. Expressing your appreciation for others and other’s actions will strengthen your personal and business relationships.

Here are a few ways you can show appreciation

  • a warm embrace
  • a firm handshake with a gentle smile
  • a sincere “thank you”
  • a passionate kiss
  • a hand-written card with a sincere message of appreciation

Gratitude is humbling and will keep you likable once you are rich and/or famous. It will keep you motivated and positive; it will help you to stay on track in pursuit of your life purpose. Show your appreciation for others frequently and emphatically, and in return, you will be appreciated more for it. You will be amazed at the results.