Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Having an Attitude of Gratitude

Just because Thanksgiving is behind us doesn't mean we should forget the power of Gratitude. In fact, heading into what is sometimes the most stressful time of year for many of us, remembering what we are grateful for can create the happiest of holidays.

I think that people who take the time to notice and appreciate the good things around them are happier and more peaceful. The key is; making a conscious effort to notice what you have rather then what you don't have. It seems that most of us tend to focus on what we don't have, what went wrong in our day, or what we think we need to improve on.

What if we changes our thought process? What if we focused on what went right and what we already have? What if we ended each day thinking of our blessings? Maybe the project you just presented wasn't received as well as you expected, but how about having gratitude for the opportunity for having a job at all? Household chores are not always fun, but how about being grateful for having a home to clean? Instead of wishing for thinner legs or curly hair maybe we need to be grateful we have our health. Shifting your focus to gratitude as oppose to what went wrong somehow takes the stress off, at least it does for me.

There are so many ways we can express gratitude, here are a few ideas:
  • Notice when other do kind thing for you, show gratitude with actions or words.
  • Encourage someone with a honest compliment.
  • Don't worry about tomorrow. Focus on what you are happy about today.
  • Write down something you are grateful for each day creating a journal. On the days that seem tough, take it out and read it.
  • Help someone out without them having to ask you.
Gratitude shouldn't end with Thanksgiving, its something that needs to be practiced daily. Making a conscious effort to notice what you have everyday takes time, but with a little effort you will be surprised what a difference it can make...give it a try!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Stop and Listen

I recently attended a funeral of someone that I remember for being a great listener. While this may not sound like something so grand to be remembered for, I agree with Brenda Ueland who writes in her essay, The Art of Listening, "The people who really listen to us are the ones we move toward, and want to sit in their radius as though it does us good." That is exactly how one felt in his presence and listening was his skill.

Many of us think we are listening when, in reality we are not. Most of us listen for a minute or two, and then wait until the other person finishes so that we can say what is on OUR mind. I have to let you know - That's not really listening.

Have you ever been in any of the following situations?
  • While talking to someone they are looking over your shoulder, or checking their phone...
  • It feels like the person you are speaking to is waiting for the 'period of listening' to be over so they can have a chance to speak.
  • While talking to someone they show a pre-formed opinion, (by shaking their head, or eye rolling) not allowing you to make your point or even finish speaking?
Over time the result of not really listening is that we seal ourselves off from other people, we don't really know them or understand their concerns.

Here are some qualities of a good listener:
  • Good eye contact with out interrupting
  • Understanding the speaker, asking appropriate questions, and most importantly - allowing space for their answers.
  • Having an open mind as oppose to a pre-formed opinion or hidden agenda
All of us want to be heard, and when someone senses that they are really being listened to, great things can happen. Solutions are found. Understandings are reached. Frustrations fall away. Try it, listening that is, and i mean Really Listening! For one day listen to your spouse, children and colleagues without interruption, thinking of yourself, and with an open mind. Let me know what you discover.