A few years ago, I had the privilege of being coached by Carol Draper, an excellent life coach. One of the homework assignments that she repeatedly suggested I do was keep a Gratitude Journal. This assignment was really simple; each day for the two weeks between our meetings I was to write down three to five things that I was grateful for in my Gratitude Journal.
So did I do the homework? Well kind of…. I would write in my Gratitude Journal for three or four days and then I would stop for one reason or another.
I have a confession to make….I still don’t keep a Gratitude Journal, but now I do see its benefits.
In the last few years, I have come to realize that being appreciative is more than a way of being polite to the people who give me things and the world that gives us life. Being appreciative is a foundation that can allow us to build a thriving life.
I realize this from personal experience. For much of my life I considered myself disabled, but in retrospect I think I was more disappreciative. (If you are scratching you head on whether disappreciative is a word, it’s not. I just coined it this morning at 7:38 AM. I italicize the word to celebrate this very tiny event in the history of the English Language.)
When I rested my life on a foundation of disability and being disappreciative, my life was always wrong. I didn’t speak right. I wrote too slowly. I caught basketballs with my glasses instead of my hands. And on a global scale too….the world appeared full of things that didn’t work and things to be afraid of.
Now that I build my life on the foundation of appreciation, I not only notice what is good about the world and myself, but base my actions upon that. This might sound somewhat lofty, so I will give you a concrete example of employing disappreciation and appreciation in regards to the sound of my voice and how each of these views impacted my life.
When I was constructing my views about my voice based on the foundation of disability and disappreciation, I wouldn’t have dreamt of becoming an inspirational speaker because I was ashamed of my voice, upset that I had a speech impediment and thought that groups would never want to hear me speak.
Whereas, from a foundation of appreciation, I am grateful I can be understood the vast majority of the time, that I have a unique story to tell, a sense of humor, a love for people and a love expressing my creativity through the spoken word. Upon this foundation of appreciation, I built my career as an inspirational speaker.
How does the shift from disappreciation to appreciation happen? This is a complex question. Many factors accumulated to cause this shift in my life. One thing that has helped me greatly and I think might be useful to you is simply asking myself questions that call for a response of appreciation such as in the morning, “What am I grateful that I get to do today?” Or during the day when a challenging situation arises ask, “What can I appreciate about this challenging situation?” And at night of course reflecting back on the day and asking the classic gratitude journal question, “What am I grateful for today?”
Game of the Day
Today- When a challenging situation arises ask, “What can I appreciate about this challenging situation?”
Tonight- Reflecting back on the day and ask “What am I grateful for today?”
Tomorrow morning- Ask, “What am I grateful that I get to do today?”
***These questions are simple to ask. The fun and challenging part of this game is to ask one of these questions every time you feel yourself slipping into disappreciation mode and then to focus on the power and joy of your answer.
I admit that at first I was a bit skeptical of things like gratitude journals, but I have found living a life of appreciation to be life transforming and a pathway to achieving extraordinary results.