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Gratitude: optimism in action

A woman lifts up her hands while singing to verse to a song about gratitude

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about gratitude and it’s particularly relevant in light of long weekends with friends and family. I’ve been wondering how gratitude fits in with our emotional intelligence skillset. Watch this video and you’ll be thinking about gratitude too ;-)

Gratitude, it seems to me, is a way of thinking about what we have, who we are, where we are, what we do, and how we are on the planet. In terms of ways of thinking we are rarely neutral. We often think about things positively or negatively – whether we’re aware of it or not.

One thing I think negatively about is the common bill. You know, those pesky things that arrive in the mail every day, at the same time every month, that request that you actually pay for stuff. I like the illusion of getting stuff for free. I hate getting bills that I have to pay each month. It’s one example, but we could choose from many.

What if I chose to see bills positively? What if I could even be grateful for bills? It’s an interesting challenge: what would I have to believe? What would I have to think to be able to be grateful for bills? I guess I would have to shift my focus from what I have to give, to what I’m getting in return. I would shift my view from a negative frame to a positive frame. And even then, it can be really difficult to see the value if my perception is that I’m not getting value for the money.

I could choose to focus on that idea of not getting value for my money, which sets up resentment and general grumpiness and certainly a lack of enjoyment of whatever product or service I’m paying for. But if I widen the frame a little, and with practice,  I can choose to be grateful for the opportunity to be able to have that product or service I’m paying for.

Gratitude, it seems to me, is optimism in action.

What about all the annoying little things that happen during the course of a day? Can we be grateful for those as well? I guess we can be grateful for anything, but what is required is that shift, which requires optimism, from a focus on how this is bad for me to a focus on, “I wonder how this is good for me?”

What do you think? Please comment below.

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