Neuroscience has proven the significant positive effects of gratitude on the brain. For many people, however, it can be hard to feel gratitude “on demand,” especially when life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns.
But what if we framed the criteria for gratitude in broader terms, recognizing that, sometimes, life’s curve balls can result in game-changing line drives?
The morning after the Cubs won the World Series, I had an early appointment with an executive coaching client, Jack.
Knowing that Jack was an avid fan, I greeted him with a big smile and said, “How about that game last night … Wasn’t it exciting?”
His answer surprised me. “I couldn’t watch it,” he told me.
“I was afraid that if I allowed myself to get too caught up in the prospect of a win, I would be devastated if they lost.”
Jack told me that he switched off the game after the 6th inning.
He was too nervous. He was too caught up in the downside. And as a result, he missed the exhilaration of the victory that marked the end of a 108-year drought for the Cubs.
Like Jack, many people believe that squelching a passion — keeping a lid on excitement — minimizes pain on the downside.
And maybe it does.
Instead of experiencing highs and lows, you live life in the middle, neutral zone. And by taking the age-old advice not to “get your hopes up too high,” you miss out on the richness that comes with experiencing the full range of emotions.
Thanksgiving is a day we set aside once a year to enjoy delicious food, relish the company of friends and family — and, at its very foundation — to reflect.
This year, instead of focusing exclusively on the overtly positive things in life, why not incorporate an appreciation for the challenges you’ve faced, the frustrations you’ve experienced and the disappointments you’ve suffered?
Acknowledge that life isn’t always easy, but that difficulty breeds strength, tolerance and growth.
Whether you are an established coaching client or read an occasional blog post, we appreciate the opportunity to be a part of your world.
With warmest wishes for a beautiful Thanksgiving — filled with gratitude for the richness of life,
Jody Michael, CEO and founder of Jody Michael Associates