Gratitude is Power!


It’s a fact that no one can make us do anything. We, as humans are free to choose. Always free to choose how we will react, respond, even feel. We choose to be angry, lonely, frightened, happy, or grateful. Gratitude is power and we can choose to be powerful. At this time of Thanksgiving, it seems than many people are reminded of this. People are apt to blast daily gratitude statements on social media, which are inspiring an uplifting. It’s a great season for gratitude. I would argue that adopting a habit of gratitude should be a constant state of being. This is a practice that will change your life.

One of my favorite books highlights the importance of gratitude, The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. The book recounts the experience of her family in the Netherlands during WW II. Corrie and her sister Betsie were not married and lived with their father in his watch maker shop . They were strong Christians and became outraged at the treatment of the Jews at the hand of the Nazi’s. They built a hiding place in their home to hide Jews. They were informed on and were sent to political prisoner camps and eventually to the Ravensbruck Concentration Camp. This was a terrible place full of despair, death, and their overcrowded barracks was entirely flea-infested. Corrie was not pleased and marveled at her sister’s ability to thank God for everything. She was thankful they were not searched when they entered the barracks because they were able to keep their bible, thankful that because of this, they could read and share inspiring messages with others, thankful that she and her sister were in the same barracks, and thankful for the fleas. Corrie was frustrated at this and said, “The fleas! This was too much. ‘Betsie, there’s no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.’”. Betsie’s ability to be grateful for everything was power. Gratitude is a power to cope and survive in dire circumstances. Their barracks enjoyed a lot of freedom. Later, it was discovered that guards would not enter the barracks because of the fleas. The fleas that Betsie was so grateful for! The fleas were the reason they had more freedom from the guards! Betsie became ill and did not survive, Corrie did survive to tell their story of gratitude and later forgiveness that she felt for those that had harmed her and so many others.

I think about these sisters and wonder, what fleas should I be grateful for that are providing me with more freedom than I realize? What irritants do I experience in my daily personal and professional life do I forget to express gratitude for? I have thought of a few that I would like to share. They have allowed me to gain perspective and change how I see irritants in my professional life.

Be grateful for team members that don’t pull their weight

What? Is this too much to be grateful for? It isn’t! Expressing gratitude for each person’s contribution, even if it is a bad attitude provides value. How can being grateful for a team member’s poor example be a good thing? It can save you from behaving badly in the future and letting your team down. We have all been in situation where a conversation is going badly, usually for one person. We might be watching in silent horror, thinking ‘Please stop talking! Stop talking right now!’ as a person argues a point, is being a bully, or refusing to acknowledge an error. This team member is not contributing to the overall effort and in fact could be causing harm. Be grateful that you witnessed someone behave in a way that you never want to.

Be grateful for impossible time lines

No way could I be grateful for impossible time lines! Yes, yes you can and you should. Why? Impossible timelines enable you to be creative with time management, no more procrastination available for this scenario. I am the Queen of Procrastination, the absolute ruler of all things last minute. One way I have been able to change this bad habit is impossible time lines. Impossible time lines force you to be economical and focus on truly the most important things. Experience working with impossible timelines also give you experience to negotiate for more reasonable time lines. Without this experience you are missing the perspective to help with better estimation and expectations.

Be grateful for poor logistics in the workplace

Having a desk that is barley large enough for a laptop, monitor, and notebook gives you perspective. You avoid clutter of gadgets and extra office supplies. Your drive-by visits are limited because there is no space to invite guests to sit. What’s the positive in small shelf space? You are happier in meetings because the table provides more space. You realize that you need to economize your desk stuff and function at an essential level. Most importantly, you will not take larger desk space for granted when you have it! Another benefit of this logistic situation is you start to understand the concept of essential. This helps in breaking down complex problems into the essential components, focusing on understanding those most important things.
Be grateful for the ‘fleas’ you find yourself exposed to. You can be grateful for all kinds of things. Change your perspective and change your life. Practice finding positivity and you will feel different. You will change your energy and that will change how you are successful in all things. Be the positive force on your project teams.

Heather, A BA Without Borders

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