Years ago, I worked with a client that grew up in chaos and abuse. I was continuously amazed by the mindset of giving that was deeply prevalent in her. I asked her one day how she had developed such an incredible perspective. She told me about an uncle she had growing up, that deeply loved her and was there for her in so many ways. She said that somehow, she knew that she mattered because he was there for her.
“And for that I will always be grateful.”
It would have been so easy for her to focus on the many ways she was wronged, and yet what she chose was to reflect on the bright spot in a pretty big sea of dark ones.
How often do you reflect on those things that produce gratitude?
A good friend.
A beautiful day.
Someone’s act of kindness towards you.
Gratitude produces a desire to give. A severe lack of it produces a mentality of “I deserve”. When we lack gratitude, we render ourselves powerless and are simply waiting for what we view as rightfully ours. We stop giving because we start to become blind to the needs of others and simply see our own wants. Probably all of us have known someone that is a giant relational porcupine, someone you do not want to get near. I guarantee they are consumed with a lack of gratitude. They no longer see how their actions affect others, only how others affect them. When gratitude completely disappears, it is replaced with an entrenched bitterness and life will continue to lack purpose and meaning.
Living a life of gratitude is not something that simply happens. It is based upon thousands of choices that we make each day to give, rather than expect. To notice and value what can easily be ignored. To live in and value each moment. To be excited about the future.
When you woke up in the morning you thought of five people you could give to that day in some tangible way.
You communicated something that matters to someone else and told them how gifted they were in that area.
You sent a handwritten card or letter thanking someone for something they did five minutes ago or five years ago.
You grabbed your phone and made a list, that you were going to add to each day, of all the things you have in your life for which you are grateful.
I read years ago that the number one reason someone CHOOSES to be in a relationship with someone else is based upon how they feel about themselves when they are around that person. We naturally gravitate towards people that convey to us that we matter and avoid those who don’t. An important aspect of this is the foundation of gratitude. If you desire to have purpose in life, it’s simply not possible without being grateful for those things that produce it.