The title may sound a tad like an US Weekly article, but it’s true: there are three words that can change your entire world today, particularly if you think that world isn’t quite your oyster right now (or maybe your business or career). If you are loving life, super happy in all walks and your career is rocking steadily along, chances are you are using them regularly!
Grateful, Thankful, Appreciative
While I try to write a lot about career issues, I love to write about gratitude, because for me it’s personal. I know first-hand what a life-changing thing genuine thankfulness can be – and it affects everything from my family to my friends and to my own career. While it is definitely appropriate at Thanksgiving, the impact of sincere and constant thankfulness goes way beyond the holiday! The power of Gratitude to change us at a very personal level is immense, and if you tap into some of that, it can totally transform how you see the world.
Believe me when I say right now, at this moment, if you are feeling like life is sucking you dry, or your job stinks, or you’re feeling like you are stuck in a place you don’t want to be, or even just not quite drinking the universal Kool-Aid, you can choose to start to change your vision. You have that power…even if you can’t see it.
I’m my own use case. Life can be difficult, yes, but for a lot of my young adult life I was pretty negative – like All. The. Time. Maybe it wasn’t obvious, but I felt a bit like I was living a sham, trying to be one thing and feeling entirely another. Despite the abundance of good things in my life, I couldn’t figure out how to be happy! I tried to hide it, I smiled, tried to shove my cynical thoughts down, or hide them in sarcasm (which is always less funny than you think it is to other people btw!)but on the inside I was constantly feeling lack.
I did the best I could and always worked hard, my view of the world was pretty dark and increasingly jaded. I saw what I didn’t have and others did, I saw what I wanted and couldn’t get, I was angry at my failures and who I hadn’t become and how I didn’t measure up. I was jealous, I was bitter, and honestly? It was killing me inside and out, eating me apart and basically making me miserable. All I could see was what I was not, and while I totally ashamed to admit it, kinda secretly hated (though admired) all the people that seemed like they “got it” where I couldn’t. It’s not fun going through life with that kind of monkey on your back – for you or anyone in your world!
Did you ever have thoughts like that? That maybe everyone else was just luckier or more worthy or got breaks and talents that you didn’t? Did you ever feel secretly certain that you just didn’t or couldn’t measure up or wonder why life was so much easier for other people?
I’m not particularly important in the grand scheme. I’m not a genius or a business magnate; I don’t have a talk show or a book. I don’t have a rags-to-riches story to share, or a super high-powered career. I work a lot of hours trying to do a good job, and attempt daily to be a good wife, mother, sister, friend, and all to varying degrees of success. I am a (mostly) recovering cuss-a-holic, and my mom is occasionally proud of me. My social life is pretty meh from a People Magazine perspective.
But I can tell you I am 250% happier with my job, my life, my family, and my lot in life than I was even five years ago – and it all stems from first being AWARE of, and then GRATEFUL for, every thing I have. I give thanks for every person I encounter, every good and bad thing that happens, and every kindness. I even offer thanks in advance to the universe for all the amazing things I have coming in my life that I don’t yet know about and see no sign of, but choose to believe are coming my way. The payoff? I am physically more fit and healthy, I have more energy, and it is a lot harder to bring me down. I have a better sense of humor, my friends actually like to be around me, and I smile a lot more.
This takes a lot of work, all of the time, and it is a conscious choice. Every day I have to feed myself good thoughts, positive messages, and while acknowledging the disappointments, work like crazy to look straight ahead. From the moment I wake up in the morning, to when I’m walking down the hall at work, I start naming off reasons I am grateful today. I’m reading positive books. I’m listening to energizing podcasts. I listen even when I don’t feel it, or the words sound false, because I know they will eventually become real. I’m focused on purposely choosing to be grateful, even when I fall on my arse or things happen that are really challenging to believe that good will come.
No, I don’t always *feel* thankful. Gratitude, like love, is far less a feeling and more a decision. I get scared, and feel doubt, and hurt. We all do, all the time. And yes, that stuff stinks. Loved one suffering? Heartbreaking. Epic fail at work? Yeah, doesn’t feel good. Kids acting up? Embarrassing. People not playing nice in the sandbox? That can be daily, but no less painful. Job leaves you? Can be devastating. You have a decision to make in every moment though, and that decision ultimately dictates your end result and ability to deal with life.
There are a million and three things that I thought could take away my joy, but I’m learning that in truth there is only one: Me.
You are the only one who can make you happier, stronger, wiser, wealthier, and more content with your work and with your life, and it has far more to do with your perception than your paycheck or home. You choose how you’re going to think about something. The universe created something spectacular out of dust, and made YOU! That’s amazing! You exist! You are a creation of epic proportions and only you can choose to perceive yourself as anything less than incredible. You have ideas, and capabilities far past your own wildest dreams, and if you focus on the right things, more of your dreams stop becoming dreams and turn into your life!
“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” ~Willie Nelson
Happy Thanksgiving! I’m so grateful you took the time to read this, and I hope you got something out of it too!
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Julie (Semrow) Sullivan is a Corporate Recruiter with 15+ years recruiting across multiple industries, but mostly in technology because she has strong geeky leanings and a weird sense of humor. She loves to write, loves helping others in their careers where she can, and sharing what she’s learned (usually the hard way). She’s trying out this speaking in third person thing for kicks. Feel free to write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out her blog at www.workthinkmoveforward.com.