For entrepreneurs in the gift industry, the winter months can become hectic and stressful. The meaning of the holidays is often lost in the midst of long hours managing order fulfillment and last minute details. As we approach Thanksgiving, we’re reminded of how important it is to count our blessings. Of course you’re grateful for the business, yet it’s easy to lose touch with gratitude and so many other important aspects of living a conscious life.
Researchers have become enamored of the gratitude topic as they’ve come to realize that expressing gratitude improves mental, physical and relational well-being. Don’t limit your expression of gratefulness to Thanksgiving; a daily practice of gratitude impacts your overall experience of happiness, and these effects tend to be long-lasting. Even better, it’s easy to incorporate thankfulness into your day; that’s a part of its beauty.
If you notice your day-to-day world from a point of gratitude you’ll be amazed at all the goodness you may take for granted. As you go about your day, keep your eyes open for the things that only take a moment of recognition to bring a smile to your face or that bring an uplifting feeling to your heart. I enjoy witnessing the kindness of strangers, or the beauty of an unusually colorful sunset. As you consciously look for at least three such things a day it raises your energy, making it more natural to look for the good in life, and even in your business challenges. Soon, you’ll be more able to turn negative thoughts around and find the positive in just about any situation.
For instance: A shortage of a popular gift item may cause frustration—even fear. In the wake of your increased gratitude you can ask yourself to find the good in the situation, rather than see it in an entirely negative light. You may realize that it has given you the opportunity to connect more closely with customers as you offer them other options or solutions. Or, it may have forced you to into hyper-drive to produce more inventory within a very short period of time, resulting in discoveries about efficiencies that will improve your production process.
The amount of energy spent on negative thoughts is astonishing. Thanks to many, many research studies, there is no longer any denying that living in a positive elevated state invites greater opportunity, like-minded people, and certainly more joy into our lives.
Yet another benefit is increased self-awareness. When my husband passed away, leaving our 8-year-old daughters and me in a state of shock and grief, I pushed myself to begin a practice of gratitude journaling. Many would say it was a strange and difficult time to turn to gratitude, yet the pace of my healing became measurably improved as I witnessed the pattern of goodness in my life by reading my journal. And a year later, as I wrote about the beautiful garden I’d created, my heart soared as I realized that I had begun to come alive again. By planting and nurturing my garden I was focusing on life, not death. Recognition of my growing ability to nurture something aside from my children gave me hope and proof that, while our lives were changed forever, it didn’t condemn us to a life of grief and suffering. I can still connect with that moment of awareness and joy as though it were yesterday, rather than twenty years ago. And today I’m grateful that I have those thoughts captured in my own words in the journal that still remains in my possession.
Lastly, your internal feelings of gratitude will prompt you to express thanks in your outer world. As you recognize the extra efforts put forth by your employees and those who support you in your personal life, you’ll be more likely to voice your appreciation. Something may remind you of a mentor or friend of the past who had a positive, lasting influence on your life and your deepened gratitude will prompt you to reach out with a word of thanks. Or, you might become more aware that it only takes a moment to offer a compliment or acknowledge a stranger who, for some reason, catches your attention as they cross your path. Just a few kind words or even a warm, unexpected smile can enhance someone’s day.
Every night, no matter how tired you may be, take a mere five minutes to write about three things for which you are grateful. Knowing that you’ve made this commitment to yourself will heighten your awareness of the good in each and every situation. It will help you to find those nuggets of pleasure that have been held in the darkness like a treasure chest waiting to see the light once again.