Every one of us is blessed beyond measure. We have a roof over our heads, a warm bed to sleep in and the ultimate luxury of fresh water and enough food to eat.
But how many of us wake up genuinely grateful every morning? I suspect not many. Instead, like me, many of you probably wake up already thinking about all of the things you have to do, while those of you who wake to the sound of a hungry baby don't have time to think at all.
This is no surprise. Media bombards us with images of the next shiny must-have new toy and social media reminds us that our friends live in bigger houses, take better vacations and raise perfect children.
More significantly, I believe we are hardwired to strive for more. To crave the security we think comes from having more money. To long to see new places and experience new things. To want better for our children. It is that drive that propels us -- both individually and as a society -- forward. It is a good thing.
But is it possible to strive for more, desire more, work for more while still being deeply, profoundly grateful for all you have? Will being grateful make you complacent?
I'm not sure, but it is what I've been working on for the past two months.
Each morning, before I get out of bed, I identify two things for which I am grateful. At first I tried to come up with two different things each morning, but after a few weeks I found I often came back to the same ones. My home. My husband. My kids. My health. My work. So I made a new rule -- I don't have to come up with two different things each day, but that I have to identify two specific things for which I am deeply grateful that particular morning. Not just my home, but the sun streaming through the window or the first birdsong of spring. Not just my kids, but my son's quick humor and my daughter's gigantic heart. Not just my husband, but the way he stands by me or the sound of his laugh. Not just my business, but the remarkable people with whom I get to work.
It's not always easy. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes I just don't feel like pausing to think, I just feel like getting going. Sometimes I wake up cranky. But this little gratefulness practice of mine seems to be having a subtle -- yet notable -- shift in the way I look at the world. I find myself looking for things to be grateful for and having little patience for identifying things to complain about.
And to my relief -- 'cause I'm ultra Type A and super ambitious -- it doesn't seem to be having a negative impact on my desire to strive for better. To the contrary, it seems to be fueling that desire but in a, well, grateful way. As in, I'm grateful for the opportunity to create more, do better, dream bigger.
I encourage you to join me. Every day, identify two things for which you are grateful. They can be tiny or huge. They can be about yourself or someone else. They can be about the world, your place in it or about a miracle that has happened a thousand miles away. You can write them down or just hold them in your heart.
Do me a favor, try it for a month or two and let me know how it goes.