Leadership / 11.23.22
Gratitude = Grace = Attitude
This week marks the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving. I am reflective and mindful that it is more than just a date on the calendar, or a day off, or a feast around a table with loved ones, or parades or football. For me, it’s a season; it is an attitude, a reminder to pause and literally count my blessings. To acknowledge the bounty that exists in my life. It’s a feeling, and it’s a cosmic connection to the people, places and the experiences that shape my life — both the larger continuum of my life as well as the daily moments that give me the opportunity to feel joy and that remind me of how blessed I am.
Gratitude is an attitude. It is a cultivated expression of grace in my life. Yes, cultivated, because I need to practice the habit of gratitude every day. I think that grace and gratitude are inherent and come with my factory settings, but life, experiences and conditioning can erode or re-wire those factory settings. That’s where I must practice resetting to the original software. Yes, every day is a choice if I’m going to practice an attitude of gratitude and invite grace into my day, my life and my daily affairs. It is a choice, and the other option isn’t as pleasant, but it can be easier. Is my daily life and experience today going to emulate a glass half full, or am I going to take the lower path and go to the glass half empty? That’s the practice. It’s a conscious decision. If the glass is half empty, then Maureen had better get a smaller glass or start her day over.
There was a time in my life that I habitually chose the lower path but, thankfully, the universe graced me with a moment of clarity that I realized that I had a choice. The universe, in turn, gave me a circle of loved ones to help me find the strength and humility to accept the changes I needed to make. I didn’t do it alone then, and I don’t do it alone now. I have accepted the grace in my life and the joy that being grateful gives. I accept the freedom to enjoy life and embrace the experiences, people, situations, solutions and chances that are offered freely to me. Merely for the asking, it is mine. It costs me nothing but gives bounties that are immense and unending.
How do I practice gratitude? I have a lot of daily tricks to help me tap into gratitude via my connection to grace. I say “please” and “thank you.” I ask for help. I invoke humility by saying “I don’t know.” I make gratitude lists — sometimes I write one thing or, when I really need help jumpstarting it, I write the entire alphabet of gratitude. Yep, every letter. The letter “K” is sometimes a sticking point, but kittens are a go to!
I practice rituals of esteemable acts starting with myself and then extending to others. It is important to keep it simple because I can always expand it as I go, but starting simply is my recipe. What are esteemable acts? Making the bed, taking the grocery cart back to the store, looking people in the eye and meaning it when I say, “have a nice day,” letting the car cut in front of me, not yelling at other drivers, establishing boundaries. I find that if the simple ones become habits, then it is the foundation for the bigger ones and they come more easily — giving time, funds and kindness come next. I don’t forget to do these things whether anyone is watching or paying attention at all. It doesn’t matter because I know. Every year since 2004 I have consciously created and acted on a 100% anonymous, can’t-tell-anyone gift of spirit and generosity. The key is the complete anonymity of it, and that it is just between the universe and me. It can be a difficult task and takes some time because I need to fight against the societal conditioning — the need for attention and approval plus the impulse of my human brain to shout out, “Hey, look what I did.”
I am an imperfect human being, and I continue to be a work in progress. I’m not a saint, but I try. I also know, when I’m paying attention, that I feel better, work better and my anxiety goes down. The recent tragic events in Colorado Springs hits my family to its core and has rattled, once again, our sense of safety and security in the world. The world gives us all so many reasons to be angry, sad, anxious and frustrated, and I can’t fix or control any of it. But I can alter my world when I pay attention to my attitude. Start with gratitude, and grace is invoked and my attitude is changed! It’s a lovely self-fulfilling circle.
What am I thankful for today, this week of Thanksgiving? My life and work life are deeply intertwined, and that’s OK. Colleagues have become friends and, in turn, many have evolved over decades of sharing to become a part of my extended family. Often times it is just the smallest moments that inspire.
I am blessed with a tightknit, close, loving, exasperating, fierce family both of blood and of choice. I am grateful for their honesty, their love and the circle of fierce protection.
I am thankful to live in a place that recognizes the power of community, diversity and inclusion — a community where differences are celebrated and honored while other parts of the world disparage them.
I am eternally grateful for 29 blessed years with my wife and partner. Her source of wisdom, kindness, humanity, service, intelligence, humor and beauty infuses my life to its very core. Our strength springs from us two.
I thank God for giving us animals and am grateful for a house full of the unconditional love and companionship of cats and dogs. That also includes the ones outside — the birds we feed who cheer my days with their chatter and the feral kitties who call our backyard home and who come here for their daily meals and reward us with their trust.
Like I said my work life and my personal life are so intertwined, but there are some things that have popped up the past week — really in just the past few days — to give me a pause of gratitude…
An INTIX member, who by complete chance and serendipity of the universe, encounters another INTIX member friend/colleague on a rental car return bus at the Dallas airport. In turn, they share this seemingly random but cosmic moment with me. Grace.
The INTIX member who sends me a picture of them with another INTIX member friend/ colleague at an event, also by the design of the universe. Grace.
An INTIX member who knows our organization from the inside out, and she steps up and in to help us with new programming elements for INTIX 2023. Not by happenstance but because I was given the grace to know when I need to say, “I need help,” and “I don’t know.” The universe provides the right person, at the right time, for the right job. Sometimes you just need to ask for help. Grace.
The INTIX member helped by other INTIX members and colleagues returns the favor by sending over a video on work-life balance to be shared. Grace.
The countless friends, colleagues, members, acquaintances and people who reach out to me every day to share moments of their lives and work. Those who share their wisdom, who ask for my help, who say thank you, who share their successes and their sorrows. This circle of sharing is immensely important to a full heart.
LinkedIn reminded me, yesterday, that it was the sixth anniversary of my starting at INTIX. It has been and continues to be one of the greatest blessings of my life to be a part of this organization. I am thankful for the meaningful work and the honor and privilege of working with the pros of our industry. I am grateful for all the lessons I have learned from colleagues. It is my tremendous and humble honor to be in service to you all, and I thank you all for the trust you put in me and the INTIX team on your behalf. You are each a blessing and an inspiration. My life is enriched daily because of the integrity, grit, spirit, kindness and grace of you magic-making, beautiful human beings. Actually, you are more aptly angels in people suits! I give you my thanks and my continued commitment in service to you all and for what you do to make this world a better place.
I am grateful for all that I have and that I have everything that I need. What I may “want” I probably don’t need. Like Dorothy, if it wasn’t already in my own backyard, I probably didn’t need it or hadn’t lost it anyway.
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Tags: gratitude , grace , thanksgiving