I’m a big fan of gratitude. If not a daily practice, it is my focus once a week as Thursday is for Thank You in my world of lighthearted living (for the one-page handout, click here).

This week, my assignment for a seminar I’m taking includes selecting one or two ways I operate in life that supports me in maintaining an environment of possibility. I chose gratitude and being openhearted.

Then I noticed something about being grateful. When I talk about gratitude I frequently mention how there are so many things for which we could be thankful, that we often take for granted. My favorite example is that we get ourselves a glass of water from the tap and take that clean water for granted – and there are over one billion people on the planet who don’t have clean water to drink; many children will die today because of the cycle of contaminated water. Now here’s my new insight: I would tend to linger on the pathos and would produce a bit of sadness rather than the joy that comes with gratitude. So the trick for me is to pull those two feelings apart. Yes, I do have empathy for those less fortunate; being of service to those who are less fortunate is one of my core values. It is also important to appreciate my blessings and to enjoy truly the sense of gratitude.

What I also take from this recognition is that I my lack of facility with gratitude suggests there are other ways of being that have more momentum to help me to shift from those moments that begin to occur as there is something wrong back to having possibility present. Being curious is a great one. I recently heard a fantastic description of truly listening as listening as if you are the person speaking – wondering how the world is occurring to that person. In the context of how leaders bring forth a new future, Steve Zaffron, described it this way:  ZaffronThe creative process of leadership tends to be thought of as “I do this” vs. “we do this.” And when “we do this” in collaboration – when a fairly diverse group of people work together to create a new future, most of the time, if I’m in that group, I’m actually listening. Normally our listening is like a process. We are filtering what is being said to us and deciding how we would want to play with it, judge it, evaluate it. and so forth. We would say that’s not really listening. Authentic listening is listening to what’s being said like you said it. Let me look at it this way; let me try it on and see it the way he or she is seeing it as they’re saying it. Once I’ve experienced that, what is it that you’re pointing at – I may then have a different view, but I have a different view that’s built on top of what you said, not instead of what you said. That kind of listening is critical for the creation of a new future. (see the whole video here)

I am grateful for curiosity and wonder. I am also giving thanks for my abundant world of family, friends, comforts, and many opportunities to make a difference. Happy Thanksgiving.

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