The Art of Gratitude
“Work Hard. Have Fun. And always be grateful.” That is the sage advice I received from my father on my first day of my first post-college job. At least the first one that wasn’t actually for my dad. All of his message is wise, but the “always be grateful” part, that is the part that drove me to write this on a post-it note and keep it on the wall in my office – stylish office decor be damned. See I knew if I wanted to excel that working hard would be required of me. Your parents and the Wall Street Journal have told you time and again that work ethic matters. Smart people, wise people, develop a strong work ethic. I have a desire to enjoy. Don’t you? Not taking everything that you work for too seriously leaves room for a lightness of life that results in things like smiles, laughter and adventure. So yes, lets have fun! But gratefulness is not your everyday piece of advice. Certainly not in a general sense. Definitely not proceeded by the circumstantially unaware superlative of “always.” Sure you are told to say "thank you." But gratitude differs from an absent-minded "thank you" that slips through our lips while our eyes simultaneously make their way back to whatever it is we have deemed most important in that moment. Gratitude is a heart position, a mindset, a filter of how you see life unfolding around you. It is also a mark of class in a lady. Gratitude softens the coldness of confidence, making it all the more approachable. Gratitude adds an air of humility that keeps pride at bay. Gratitude is a welcome compliment to the character of a strong woman. It is also something that comes naturally to only a lucky few. Gratitude requires cultivation. Cultivating gratitude starts with being observant. You can’t appreciate the things you don’t notice. Make a point to think about how other people spend their time, their money and their words. Notice the things that someone does on repeat-- even the small things, especially the small things. Recognize when a girl at work does something helpful that she wasn’t asked to do. Recognize when a girl at work does something well that she was asked to do. Listen to how a person responds when in a difficult situation, with a difficult person or how they talk to those who aren’t as in a position to help them in any substantial way (including children). If your eyes are closed to how others act you will cultivate self-importance instead of gratitude. Lets be observant, luvvies. Gratitude expresses itself in sincerity. The words “thank you” accompanied with full eye contact and a slight smile can certainly express a true gratitude. But make a habit of going a little farther with your thanks. It is too easy to quickly say “thank you” and never stop to actually appreciate someone. Stopping is key. It takes very little time to be grateful. Put down what is in your hands, stand up, actively seek someone, always look at the person in the eyes. Make saying “thank you” the only thing you are doing at that moment. And then really say it. Tell them why you are thankful. “Thank you so much for putting so much effort into making this meal special. I know you really put a lot of effort into this.” “I really appreciated the way you helped the mom with her groceries get out to her car, that was so kind.” “Thank you for washing the dishes, I always dread doing those after I cook.” “When you took the crying baby for an hour I felt like I got a little piece of my sanity back. I appreciate it so very much.” Let gratitude become habitual. “Always” is a pretty good adjective in this sense. Making a habit out of being thankful is a great thing. Others feel good about helping you, working with you/for you/around you, and look forward to doing things especially for you. A habit of being thankful is also good for you. It opens your eyes to see other people and other circumstances in a positive light. It forces you to look for the good. It requires that you put thoughts about yourself at arms' length and instead pull close an appreciation for other people. Bottom line: It makes you a lady people want to be around. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to start cultivating gratitude in your life. Let’s be luvvly ladies of thanks this week and over the course of our life.