Shift Happens When Your Perspective Changes
Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at will change. I discovered that motto years ago and when I keep it in the forefront of my mind, I find that I am at my best. Growing up, the word grateful was always associated with guilt. “You should be grateful for what you have, who you are, what you received.” Gratitude was a command, not a pleasure. As I got older, I found gratitude to be an incredibly empowering friend. It’s not something to fear, but something to embrace. Choosing to be grateful in less-than-perfect circumstances can change your experience so deeply that it actually becomes positive. The ripple effect it has on those around you reverberates. Years ago while working in New York, I found myself working in a demanding environment with a tough, moody boss. I started to dread the thought of going to work, yet I had worked so hard to even get that job. I knew I didn’t want to lose it or switch roles, so I started to study how I could change my perception of my experience. I read self-help books, talked to friends and confided in loved ones. I learned a little trick. If I could go to work each day and concentrate on all of the things I liked about my boss, instead of all of the things driving me crazy, my whole mood might change. Gratitude made negative things disappear.
Thinking of positive attributes in my mean boss was not easy at first. It required patience and deep thought. Then, I remembered that during the interview for the role, my boss mentioned how much he loved his kids. He said that having kids was one of the greatest joys in his life. I started to focus on this good quality in him. Fatherhood. And how wonderful it is to have a man in the world that enjoys being a father! We need more loving, wonderful fathers! Then, I started remembering how every year, when the mention of pay cuts came up, my boss fought against it for all workers. My boss was a champion for workers’ rights. One by one, I started naming and reaffirming all of his positive qualities.
My perspective shifted when I realized that gratitude, like exercise, was something you practice until you get better. I could choose to be thankful and interact in positive ways with even the most challenging people. Gratitude helped my disposition change and impacted those around me. This month, I am grateful for gratitude. And I can choose to be grateful every day!