What is Gratitude?
Gratitude is a way of thinking and being – a way of looking at the world. Some people just live appreciating things around them. They get out of bed in the morning and see and appreciate the beauty of the morning, what they have, what they are going to do and more. Others in exactly the same circumstances just get out of bed.
This mind and heart set means that so often the person is positive and sees and truly experiences the small and simple things of their day. It is a level of awareness that others do not have but a level of awareness that is positive – that looks for and celebrates the positive. Gratitude is an internal disposition. Internally we are grateful and externally we are appreciative. Our internal mind and heart set makes us aware of all that we have, the positives in our lives – however simple and then this internal disposition shows itself in the external – being appreciative.
Sadly, too often we don’t value or appreciate something until we don’t have it. This is the level of awareness we are seeking to grow – to appreciate before you lose something. How often have people lost their health or a loved one or a role in their lives and only then – after having lost it – do they appreciate it and now really miss it. Pricey once spent a long winter working in Liverpool in England. There were many things about that experience that he appreciated; going to Liverpool – Everton football games, the pubs and more but as the winter dragged on he found he was really missing home and especially Australia’s sun. It is often only when you are walking out every day into the cold and a light drizzle that you appreciate sun – just as on the other hand someone at the end of a long hot summer of drought may appreciate the rain even more!
Covid 19 Realisations
One of the blessings of this period of global pandemic has been that we have been forced into situations of isolation and as a result we have come to appreciate many of the little things of life that we had taken for granted. Going to the gym, having coffee with a friend in a coffee shop, going to a bar on a Friday afternoon, travelling for a holiday and more. All of these things that we once took for granted we now cherish with a renewed energy. Pricey’s two weeks in quarantine had him really appreciative of fresh air, exercise out in the open and actually being with people. Some of we more tactile people can’t wait to be able to hug people again!
So many of the things we should be grateful for and appreciate are small and simple things. When Grego was at school his Principal used to place on every support staff member’s desk each Monday morning and freshly cut rose. The Principal had a beautiful rose garden – one of his hobbies. The support staff really appreciated this gesture of appreciation from the ‘boss’. When he moved on to another school several years later it was those little things that made the school more of a home, more of a community that people really missed. It was the Principal’s way of saying, “You are important!”
In so many institutions it is the little people – the apparently unimportant people that are so often overlooked and not appreciated. A Universal Man creates an environment – whether at home or at work – where the little things says, “You are valued here – just for who you are!” In your place of work if the ‘little people’ feel valued and appreciated then the place begins to hum – to buzz. The atmosphere changes from working to rule to working because I want to contribute to this team.
When people free appreciated they willingly give back.
Gratitude says – by actions, “I value you – I value this” and “You / it is important to me!”
The more grateful we are the more simple we often live and we find happiness in the simple things. And in hard times – like Covid 19 times – we tend to go back to the basics – go back to the simplest things like health, security and relationships – savour them, appreciate them!
Gratitude leads to Joy
Think of the happiest people that you know. They will be people who appreciate and who are grateful. They will be the people who seem to have time for the little people and the small seemingly unimportant things. Joyful, happy people are grateful for the small things and say so. Their appreciation spreads like a ripple.
Gratitude is that five second choice to appreciate in the small moments, the small encounters, and the small decisions. The wonderful thing is that it spreads and grows. When you appreciate and are grateful for the small things you begin to notice more. You begin to count your blessings more. You begin to be more people centred and less selfish. You begin to look outward and not inwardly. The grateful person is an outward looking person – they become someone for others and that outward looking mindset beings balance into your life.
“At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” – Albert Schweitzer
One someone is grateful and expresses it – it touches the other who in turn may grow to be more aware and then more grateful and appreciate more – it flows and ripples forth to touch more people than you can imagine.
Why is gratitude important?
Firstly because it is such an important mind and heart set when you attain these ways of looking at life it has huge flow on effects. Your physical health improves, your core relationships improve, your mental attitude improves – it truly flows over into the rest of your day and the rest of your life.
After some time gratitude becomes a habit of the heart. Gradually you find yourself appreciating people more, appreciating the kindness of others more, and noticing things you had not noticed before. Before too long you are not taking people and things for granted – and this means so much to the other.
Show Appreciation Before Its Too Late
How often in life do we hear it said that a man did not say what was in his heart to someone he loved before they died. Pricey has a cousin whose father died some time ago – the cousin had had a fight with his dad – and sadly he allowed his ego and his pride to stop him visiting his father and thanking him and appreciating him – and his father died before he did. Pricey’s dad died when he was 17 – the lesson – never leave unsaid what your heart needs to say! We men aren’t great at that – we are getting better though. The old saying – Pride comes before the fall – don’t let pride stop you being grateful.
How do men express our gratitude and appreciation?
Sure, we men often express our gratitude in other ways – the simple gesture, the look, the act of kindness – we express gratitude through what we do. These are all important but sometimes the other needs to hear from our hearts. One simple ways of appreciating is through RAKS – Random Acts of Kindness – when we engage in these RAKS what is happening is that our minds and hearts are become more other aware – and then more appreciating of the other!
Men sometimes have an attitude of just get in and do it. Often we men don’t want any fuss made over us – we just want to do something for the other. This is all Ok and at times is good. But while honouring that this is how some men want to work we still need to be grateful and appreciative and those men need to know deep down that they are appreciated as well. This is a deep internal thing – but there are also times when we all need to hear expressions of gratitude.
Sometimes the person who is on the receiving end of our kindness NEEDS to express their appreciation. Sometimes we can get so caught up in being humble that we can’t see that the other needs to say “thank you” and that by allowing them to say this or show this we are doing them a favour. So while we acknowledge that many bloke to bloke expressions of gratitude are low key and even indirect – still do it – still show it – don’t assume.
Two old boys of Priceys – Jack and Calum – were recently sharing a beer with Pricey and a laugh. Calum recalls that one time he received a letter from Jack written from a mining camp in Western Australia. Jack had heaps of time on his hands and just needed to write to someone – so he penned a letter to Calum recalling their many fun times as teenagers but also – sometime overtly and sometimes ‘between the lines’ Jack expressed his deep appreciation to Calum for his friendship. Now Jack is one tough man – and as we sat at the bar – and Calum shared this story – you could see that they both really valued that letter – one valued the writing of it and the other valued getting it and keeping it and often re-reading it.
Sadly another time Pricey had worked in a school for three years. The Principal of the school was a tough man but dearly loved. After eight years at the school the Principal was leaving at the end of the year. At the final assembly the College Captain and all the students were all fired up to give a speech to the departing Principal, give him a gift and a round of applause. Just before the Assembly ended and as the College Captain was making his way to the stage – the Principal said, “Gentlemen – have a great Christmas holidays!” and then turned on his heal and before anyone could say anything was out the side door and gone. The students – felt robbed – they were robbed of their right to say “Thanks!” It left a hollow feeling in everyone’s guts. Pricey went to the microphone (he was the Deputy Principal) and had the College Captain deliver the speech and they made the presentation to Pricey to give to the Principal later on. In his unprepared for ‘reply speech’ Pricey had to somehow share with the boys that it was probably the Principal’s shyness or humility that meant he did not want any fuss made. We would call that false humility.
Sometimes Australian men express appreciation by put downs – by verbal teasing of another. Sometimes for Australian men the more they tease you and put you down the higher they value you and think of you. While this can be alright – we still say – make sure, despite putting them down – that they KNOW you really do appreciate them and are grateful. There is no need to carry on and make a fuss about it – but it is also important that the other KNOWS they are appreciated!
Sometimes we men will say, “Nah, he knows we value him?” Does he?
How to Cultivate Gratitude
a. Establish a tradition of gratitude in your home and family; the small things like thanking your partner, thanking someone for going the extra mile – appreciating – BUT be aware of the crap detector – make sure the gratitude is genuine and for something real and genuine – not false. It can’t be false like “thank you son for brushing your teeth!” That’s crap!
b. Be on the front foot – on a Sunday – make a list of 7 people you will randomly contact that week and just chat to them – appreciate them – no strings attached
c. Get times of stillness and silence into your day – then you will be aware more and appreciate more
d. Sadly we are often not appreciative or grateful until after we have lost something or someone – therefore the decision to change that needs to be made NOW – before you lose someone or something – your health, your mobility. Give yourself an hour – get pen and paper and make a list – a huge list of all the people and things you are grateful for and then in the next column write down on a scale of 1 to 5 how good you have been at showing your gratitude to them or for them / it.
e. Grateful for simple pleasures – savour them, enjoy them, deliberately celebrate them
Other than Grego – Australia has only had one saint – Mary MacKillop – and she says, “Gratitude is the memory of the heart!”
Pitfalls along the way:
- One of the biggest pitfalls that blocks a mind set and heart set of gratitude is busyness; we are too busy to be aware, too busy to see, too busy to notice. Too busy to stop and smell and flowers – we don’t even know there are flowers there.
- When we are ego driven we are often not grateful because it is all about us.
- When we over focus on goals and the goals become everything – then we often lose balance and do not appreciate nor show gratitude.
- Sometimes after being grateful you can start to feel like you lose motivation for some of your big goals. Don’t fall for that. Gratitude is a way of connecting to your greatest self and values so when you play big your ‘Miles Davis’ is revealed.
So – this weekend – when you next get that opportunity – closet yourself away in a room or go to the park and make that list of people and things you are grateful for – it will make your day – it may save your life!
Pricey & Grego