I was listening to my iPod while traveling on business a few weeks ago, and the lyrics of a Sheryl Crow song really struck me, that "it's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got." Of course...right? Gratitude is obviously about being thankful for what you have. But the chord that this song struck in me was the realization that, "wanting what you've got," goes way past a passive act of thanks and to a much deeper state of recognizing that one is truly blessed, right here, and right now.
At the beginning of November I reminded myself, as I do every year, to connect at a deeper level with gratitude. After all, how much more meaningful would my Thanksgiving be if I spent the month leading up to it remembering all the bounty that belongs to me? As I contemplated and practiced the art of gratitude, the idea of noticing and embracing what was right in front of me emerged again and again.
One of my clients recently shared with me that he and his team have to change their paradigm due to the impact on resources that this new economy has brought his company. "It isn't about doing more with less," he told me, "my people are exhausted from trying to do what they always did, but with fewer resources." Now, "we have to learn how to be better with less." He worries that his team is under stress because they can't do things like they used to do them, and they don't quite see how to do it differently yet. They are missing what they've lost and can't see what they have.
Last week my family sat gathered around the turkey, and as is our tradition, each person shared what they were most grateful for during this past year. After all the surgeries and medical challenges our family recently faced I am most grateful for my health and that my body is strong and capable. Several people were grateful for their jobs, some who had looked long and hard to find jobs during the past year. Others were deeply grateful for family, and the support that they were provided during challenging times. It is said that having a grateful heart reduces stress and contributes to an overall sense of well being. I was reminded again, that it is the simple things in life that are most worthy of our praise. It's wanting what you've got.
I began to realize that simple elegance beats out sophisticated elegance these days. And then it struck me, those who transform performance are masters at seeing all they have to create from, rather than what they don't. Practicing gratitude may do more than reduce stress and improve our outlook on life; it may just be the key to transforming one's view of the world and their ultimate success.
I for one have to remind myself to slow down and count my blessings, to stop and be satisfied, truly grateful for the here and now. I have to remember to give thanks for what is here without rushing on to what is yet to come. What better time to practice the attitude of gratitude as we gear up for the busy days that December brings. Be grateful for what you have, and remember to find the magic in the simple things the season brings.