Every guidance counselor, career coach, or academic advisor talks about skills assessments, resumes, and job searches.
But you hear far less about another element that is essential to any successful career change – namely, gratitude.
Researchers already know the benefits of a positive, appreciative attitude including:
- greater success in work
- greater health
- peak performance in sports and business
- higher sense of well-being
- faster rate of recovery from surgery.
So imagine what gratitude could do for someone like you who wants want to break out of job jail and do your thing?
I think the reason gratitude is an overlooked key to career change is because it requires you to focus on the present.
And when you hate your soul-sucking job or your lousy commute or micro-managing your boss, your mind is naturally going to be yearning for your future freedom versus being mindful of those blessings, however small, that you have right now.
The thing is, living life from a perspective of gratitude is not just an exercise in happy thinking.
It goes much deeper than that.
Perhaps Melody Beattie said it best:
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity…It turns problems into gifts, failures into successes, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. It can turn an existence into a real life, and disconnected situations into important and beneficial lessons.
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
Gratitude Cheat Sheet
If you’re having trouble finding things to be grateful for then ask yourself a few simple questions:
- What do I take for granted?
- What moves me?
- What would give me daily joy if I’d just notice it?
Here are ten ideas to get you started…
1. The senses. Sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. If you have these daily miracles, gratitude is in order.
2. The plant world. From the productivity of a late-summer tomato plant to the delicate unfurling of a fern to new growth on a house plant, nature’s exuberance and tenderness is something to behold.
3. Young children. They serve as wonderful models of important elements of changing course like curiosity, resilience, and playfulness. If you don’t have young children in your life right now, stop to notice them at a playground or even on YouTube.
4. Beauty. What do your eyes feast on? What splendor makes your soul rejoice? It is all around us every day. Make it a point to spend a moment to just drink it in.
5. The ability to learn. There is no age limit on learning—period. When we stop learning, we really stop living. And when it comes to changing course, information truly will set you free!
6. Color. It’s all around you – and it’s free. Sunsets, Gauguin paintings, the green and reds in your super market’s produce section, blue eyes or deep brown ones. Imagine a world without color and be grateful if you can see it.
7. Music. Music has the ability to inspire, motivate, and lifts our mood. What does it for you? Is it African drumming, violin concertos, Rock & roll, show tunes, gospel, Latin music? Or perhaps for you it’s the sound of a nightingale, a chick cry of the loons?
8. Opportunity. Our steady companion, opportunity is always ready to take us down a path yet unknown. (Hint: We have to say “Yes!”) A quick check of past posts will open your eyes to just how many opportunities there are to make a money without a job-job.
9. The ability to give. Every act of generosity benefits the giver as much as the receiver. Changing course is as much about giving support as it is getting it. Helping someone else see creative ways to profit from their passion, can help you see options for yourself.
10. Change. It’s unavoidable; the only constant. Change can be unsettling or challenging. But the mystery of it and what lies beyond it can keep us young at heart. Instead of fighting it, be grateful that you have the capacity to change yourself and your life.
Like most healthy habits, gratitude can be difficult to sustain.
So many of us are trained to notice what is broken, undone or lacking in our lives.
And for gratitude to meet its full healing potential in our lives, it needs to become more than just something we practice at Thanksgiving.
We have to learn a new way of looking at things, a new habit. And that can take some time.
Super Simple Ways to Practice Gratitude
That’s why practicing gratitude makes so much sense.
When we practice giving thanks for all we have, instead of complaining about what we lack, we give ourselves the chance to see all of life as an opportunity and a blessing.
- Keep a gratitude journal in which you list things for which you are thankful. You can make daily, weekly or monthly lists. Greater frequency may be better for creating a new habit, but just keeping that journal where you can see it will remind you to think in a grateful way.
- Make a gratitude collage by drawing or pasting pictures.
- Practice gratitude around the dinner table, start your day texting what you’re grateful for to a friend, or make it part of your nighttime routine.
- Make a game of finding the hidden blessing in a challenging situation.
- When you feel like complaining, make a gratitude list instead. You may be amazed by how much better you feel.
- Notice how gratitude is impacting your life. Write about it, sing about it, express thanks for gratitude.
As you practice, an inner shift begins to occur, and you may be delighted to discover how content and hopeful you are feeling. That sense of fulfillment is gratitude at work.
As always, I encourage you to go after your dreams.
At the same time, life is too short to put off happiness until you’ve achieved it.
In other words, with a dream, as with life, the journey is just as important as the destination.
As you enjoy a drink of clean water, a warm bed, or the company of a loved one today and every day, pause and be grateful for what and who is in your life right now.
Go after that better future full of freedom and joy… but also be here now and savor the journey.
Author’s content used with permission, © Claire Communications