Gratitude is a buzzword now. And, like most buzzwords, that makes me view it a little suspiciously. But that’s wrong. Because gratitude isn’t like “leverage” or “disruption”: it’s not designed to get something from you, or make you act in a certain way. Gratitude is not here to focus attention on you. (Despite how you might see it used in social media at times.)
Gratitude is your appreciation of others. It literally means “to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”
To return kindness. Wow. We all need more kindness, right? Who ever said, “Oh, kindness? No thanks, I’m full. Keep that stuff to yourself.”
Here’s the other thing: besides making you feel awesome, gratitude is so important. If you don’t appreciate what you have, you’re likely to feel empty and always chasing something you can never catch, like you’re racing after a runner who is always just out of reach of your hand. Your heart is pounding, your legs are spinning, your lungs are burning, and… nothing. Just effort after effort and never any satisfaction. Eventually, you’re going to get tired of that race.
So you need to appreciate in order to elevate your life. How much should you appreciate? Hugely. Fantastically. That conversation you just had with your coworker? Marvelous! The hug from your kid? Phenomenal.
What? Have I lost my mind? Nope.
Now, I’m not asking you to have false emotion (I would never ask that) but I am asking you to allow yourself to really feel the moment. Open your heart a little wider and take a risk.
And I want you to be like Joan Rivers. (Now you’re convinced I’ve lost my mind. Kindness and Joan Rivers?) No, you don’t need to become a stand-up comic. But here’s the thing many people don’t realize about Joan: she was incredibly grateful. Hugely appreciative of everything she had, everything she worked for, and for her friends and family. After Joan’s death, Margaret Cho described Joan’s gratitude as “intense and immense” and a defining factor in her success.
Intense and immense. Think about those two words. They’re pretty powerful. Imagine how phenomenal your life could be if your appreciation for kindness (and return of it) was intense and immense.
In a world that often seems to want us to be “cool” about emotion, forget being cool. Be intense, even in your gratitude. That’s okay. Make your gratitude immense. Make it huge. Make it dominate your life. How cool would that be?
People love to be around someone who makes them feel better about themselves and who acts kindly towards them. And that could be you, one time a day or one hundred times a day.
But it starts simply, as all good things do. And it comes from the heart. A simple “thank you” with eye contact is still an amazing exchange between human beings, if you do it right.
So, start there … and let it grow. Elevate your gratitude level to intense and immense, and see how your life changes.