Selfish gratitude? What’s that about?
Okay this isn’t just another post on being thankful. I know you know how beneficial focusing on what you are thankful for is for your well-being. You’ve likely heard that a gratitude practice can boost your mood, increase your happiness, and maybe even your wealth. Now more than ever focusing on what’s working is important. Hopefully you’ve tried this yourself.
I recently learned something really new for me about gratitude. It made me rethink if the way I was practicing gratitude was selfish and that there might be a better way.
About a week ago I was in a really crappy mood. We all have these days, maybe more so lately. Feeling anxious, annoyed, and lethargic (not my typical, often annoying to others, cheery self.) Yes, I’m learning to sit with these feelings, knowing they will eventually pass. (Thank you Michael Singer and his amazing book The Untethered Soul to remind me about this – which by the way I’ve read at least 4 times.) But still it feels like sh*t.
Then as I’m avoiding doing something more productive I notice a LinkedIn message I hadn’t seen from the night before. I had been chatting with a financial advisor, Barry Shapiro, about a virtual session I had lead for advisors on how to Detox from Panic so advisors can be there for their clients. Now, I don’t know Barry. He just reached out to me. Here’s what he wrote:
Maybe you haven’t focused on how sharing your gratitude impacts the other person. I hadn’t until someone shared their gratitude with me. Reading Barry’s message immediately shifted my state of mind and being. I went from Eeyore to Tigger in less than 30 seconds. Barry made my day.
Is your gratitude practice a little selfish?
This makes me think that I’ve been selfish in my gratitude practice. It has been all about how it makes me feel better. What I realize now is that I can make this regular practice even better to include sharing my gratitude with the people who have a positive impact on me.
I’ve decided to pay this forward and reached out to share my gratitude with someone I don’t really know – Sallie Krawcheck. She’s a rock stock in the financial services industry and runs Ellevest. I told her about how the content they create around finances for women is the best I’ve seen – smart, edgy, and never condescending (which sadly is not always the case in the financial services industry.) She emailed back that she was going to share this with her team and that I “made her day.”
There are three ways to be focusing your gratitude:
- Think about what you are grateful for – This is great. You should be doing it daily for sure. Think (or journal) about what is working in your life and what you are grateful for. Over time you’ll be happier.
- Share with others what you are grateful for – This might be as my friend Dr. Shawne Duperon calls it good gossip. Talk well about someone behind their back. This might be in an actual conversation, or by writing a LinkedIn testimonial, sharing or commenting on a post. This feels great when you’re the recipient. It also feels good when you’re the person sharing about someone else.
- Express your gratitude directly to the person you are grateful for – This is so fun to do. It’s really appreciated and wonderful when it is totally unexpected. Who has made a big difference in your life you’d like to thank? Maybe a teacher, someone who helped you early in your career, a doctor, healer, or coach? Maybe it’s someone in your family. One family tradition we’ve recently brought back into our Friday night dinners is to share what we love and appreciate about each other. You can do this in whatever way feels right. In a call, in person (or video call), via a handwritten note or an email. You will make someone’s day by sharing your heartfelt gratitude.
Question to you … Whose day will you make today?
Give this a try and let me know how you feel and the reaction you receive from the recipient of your gratitude. It’s a beautiful way to create a virtuous cycle of great feelings.