Each month, I feature one of my top-ten core values. This is my ninth: Deep Gratitude.
“Carla! Would you please stop feeling so sorry for yourself?”
My good friend’s admonishment was cold water in my face.
She went on: “I’m so tired of hearing how other people have more than you do. How other people have a better job than you do. Why so-and-so’s life is better than yours. You’re a broken record!”
At the time, I was out of school and playing cards with friends. I was taken aback by her tirade. But she wasn’t finished. “Do you have any idea how many people look at you that way? To have the things you have? To be as lucky as you are? Many people would give anything to be you today.”
It hurt to hear this. But I listened. I took her words to heart.
Today, deep gratitude is one of my top-ten core values. I have evolved since that day playing cards, as I gradually learned to see everything was relative. Just because I thought someone else had more (of anything) than I did, didn’t mean they were better. Or that their life was better than mine.
Deep gratitude grounds us. It helps us to see and experience in a new light what we have, what’s around us and available to us, and who is in our lives.
That said, it’s easy to find gratitude for the larger things in front of us … but it requires more effort to notice the “smaller” stuff.
“When you go deeply into the present, gratitude arises spontaneously, even if it’s just gratitude for breathing, gratitude for the aliveness that you feel in your body. Gratitude is there when you acknowledge the aliveness of the present moment.” — Eckhart Tolle
Plus, it’s easy to be grateful when things are going well … but much harder when things are not going so well.
And, while each of us can give thanks for what we receive, we can also expand gratitude in the world. We can choose to share ourselves and our resources with others.
Get your copy of my free worksheet. It features this month’s core value, “Deep Gratitude.”
The journey to a deeper level of gratitude is worth it. We can see a bigger picture beyond our own little world. Our lives are much richer.
Read on for three simple Power Challenges to enhance or expand gratitude in your life!
Power Challenge 1: Be grateful beyond the obvious.
Many years after the infamous card game, I was in a hospital emergency room with one of my children who’d become ill. I was anxious and afraid as my mind raced with worst-case scenarios. Unexpectedly, a friend showed up to sit with me.
She stayed with me for twelve hours.
At the end of that long day, I said, “Thank you for being here. You have so much going on in your own life — and kids of your own. But you stayed with me. You gave me the gift of time. And I am so grateful.”
That experience helped me see beyond what I have. To be grateful for the “smaller” things, such as the thoughtful actions of others.
Related: Gratitude, Your Way
In your life, what are you grateful for? Perhaps you instantly ponder the “big” stuff. You’re grateful for your home. Your family and friends. Your job. That vacation you took last month.
Those are all important and meaningful! But what if you think of those as a starting point for gratitude? If you expand your perspective?
You can be grateful for the gift of time— as I was that day in the emergency room. For a beautiful sunrise or sunset. For someone’s smile to you on a rough day.
“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” — Robert Brault
As a core value, deep gratitude extends beyond feeling lucky or blessed for what you have. It’s like 360-degree vision, encompassing the people and environment around you. There’s so much there to appreciate.
So, Power Challenge 1 is simply this: Be grateful for the “small” stuff. The actions, the deeds, the good intentions of others. The beauty that’s around you. Feel gratitude for anything that lifts you up a bit — anything that makes your day a little nicer or a little easier.
Power Challenge 2: Be grateful when things are not going well.
How often have you had a day (or a week, month or year) when you just felt that nothing was going well? Nothing working, nothing easy? I think most of us have felt that way at one time or another, including during the Covid pandemic.
The longer the difficulty, the more frustrated, sad or disappointed we feel. And that can take us ever farther from feelings of gratitude.
Related: Is Your Definition of Success Holding You Back?
But when we hold deep gratitude as a core value, it’s not a fair-weather friend.
The more things feel hard — or the longer the difficulties persist — the more we seek to feel gratitude. To expand our viewpoint past our struggles. To realize that no matter how little we may think we have, there are always other people living with less.
“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” — Eckhart Tolle
Often, this is not easy to do. It takes practice. And some mental discipline.
Make a small start on any day that’s not going well. Push yourself to find one or two small things you can feel authentically grateful to have or to experience. Acknowledge these things to yourself in a simple way. Note what your day might have been like without them.
This is not about being Pollyanna. It’s not about denying reality. It is about expanding and balancing your viewpoint. To realize what you do have. And to allow a feeling of gratitude to bring a touch of comfort to the rough edges of your day.
Power Challenge 3: Pay it forward.
So far, we’ve explored expanding gratitude within ourselves. But when deep gratitude is a core value, we also look to create gratitude beyond our own experiences.
Believing in the positive potential of gratitude, we want to see more of it in the wider world. We can do that by giving to other people, in recognition of all that we have received.
I don’t mean keeping a scorecard. It’s not that someone did something for you and now you have to do something back for them. Nor is it the other way around — where you did something nice for someone, and now you’re waiting for them to do something nice for you. (That’s what we call “having strings attached.”)
You’ve probably heard the phrase “pay it forward” (and perhaps you’ve seen the movie by the same name). To me it means, instead of keeping a tit-for-tat scorecard, you do something nice or good — and unexpected — for someone else.
Maybe you’ll thank someone you don’t even know! Or, maybe it’s someone who’ll never know it was you who provided that gift or opportunity.
Any time you share what you have to give — be it time, money, other resources, or simply good vibes — you’re creating the opportunity for more gratitude to exist in the world. And I’m pretty sure you’ll feel great, too!
Thanksgiving is more than a holiday.
During this time of year, with Thanksgiving around the corner, we all tend to give thanks more than usual. But I wonder, why does giving thanks have to be seasonal? Why not give thanks every day?
The practices I’ve shared help you to do just that — to experience and to share deep gratitude on a daily basis. I worked hard on myself to get to the point where I now cherish the core value of deep gratitude.
But if I could get there — from my starting point as a young person envying what everyone else had — you can get there, too! And I’ll bet you’ll do it faster, too.
And now, what better way for me to end this article than to say, I’m grateful you’re reading what I have to share!
Looking for a motivational speaker for your next event? Carla energizes and inspires attendees to be the best version of themselves that they can be. Contact her today.