This week we pause from our busy schedules to gather with family and friends to give thanks for what we have. What would your life be like if you could express this level of thanks everyday?
When times are good it’s easy for people to be generous with their gratitude. Yet, our most valuable lessons frequently result from facing adversity and challenge. Even though we often benefit a great deal from enduring a crisis, this is precisely the time we’re least likely to express thanks for the lessons learned.
An immediate question comes to mind: How much better would your life and business be if you could express thanks for the difficult clients, the trials and tribulations of the business, or even for the most horrible of life’s lessons, such as divorce, illness and even death? If you expressed thanks during these times, could you more easily overcome life’s other challenges and adversities?
The following example from a past client illustrates the power of this approach:
“I had hit rock bottom in life 14 years ago. I lost my job, my wife left me, and I was literally living under a bridge. Today, I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. In the quiet desperation of this time, I discovered gratitude for the smallest acts of kindness. Today, I have a successful business and family. Every day I express thanks for the wonderful things in my life and look for some small act of kindness I can do for someone else.”
Gratitude is tied to happiness and positive feelings
When you sincerely say “thank you” to someone, it’s almost always linked to a positive situation: Someone helped you, paid you a compliment, or did something nice for you such as picking up the check at a restaurant. The act of giving and the gratitude expressed make both people feel better.
Practitioners of neurolinguistic programming reference this as “anchoring.” Both positive and negative feelings can be anchored in our bodies. The act of expressing gratitude is normally anchored with a smile and other physical changes associated with your sense of well-being.
To illustrate this point, recall a time when you expressed gratitude to someone else. How did expressing gratitude make you feel? Did your life seem easier, happier or lighter? In most cases, the answer to this question is “yes.”
In contrast, during times of challenge and stress, life often feels heavy and overwhelming. By expressing gratitude, neurolinguistic programming tells us that you can actually bring back this feeling of lightness when you need it most. Because you normally express gratitude when you feel good, the simple act of expressing gratitude when you are angry or hurt can actually shift your mood to a more positive state.
For example, if you are dealing with an angry client, instead of becoming hurt or angry yourself, sincerely say, “Thank you for pointing that out.” You may not agree with what the client said, but your attitude will go a long way in smoothing out the situation. Furthermore, you may be surprised at how much better you feel.
Beyond thanks: giving back
The client above who shared how he looks for a small act of kindness to do for someone each day illustrates the importance of giving back. No matter how scarce things are in your life, you probably have old clothing, household items or outdated electronics that you no longer need or use. Go through your closets, garage and other storage areas and ask yourself, “Is there someone who needs this more than I do?” If so, give it away.
If you are unable to identify anything to give away, you can still share the most valuable gift of all: you. For example, you can read to a sick child, give someone who cannot drive a ride, or visit a shut-in. The old adage, “You get what you give,” is true. In fact, it’s been my observation that I always receive more than I give.
In fact, have you ever noticed over the course of your day how many actual opportunities you have to give back to others? For example, did you look directly at the waitress who served you in a restaurant and say “thank you” as she served your water and your meal? Have you called your past clients to tell them how much you appreciated working with them in 2013? Have you acknowledged your manager, or your title officer or loan officer for helping you with all the transactions you’ve closed?
Taking these simple steps is actually the route to happiness. When you focus on gratitude and giving back, these acts block out scarcity and unhappiness.
Consequently, take time each day to be grateful for the abundance that already exists in your life. Even if you have an abundance of unpaid bills, remember your creditors had an abundance of faith that you would pay them back.
It’s so easy to take our good health, homes, families and much more for granted. Take just a few minutes every day to jot down what you are grateful for and track how much better you feel.
Have a happy Thanksgiving and “thank you” for being one of our readers!
Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of the National Association of Realtors’ No. 1 best-seller, “Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success.” Hear Bernice’s five-minute daily real estate show, just named “new and notable” by iTunes, at www.RealEstateCoachRadio.com.