A Value-Adding Gratitude Practice
Next week in the U.S., we celebrate the Thanksgiving Holiday. According to its namesake and tradition, a day to give thanks for our many blessings. But, the year 2020 has been an unusually challenging year for millions of people around the world. Many have lost loved ones or suffered and continue to suffer the ravages of Covid19 physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially. So it may be hard for some folks to feel grateful in the traditional sense.
Yet this is also a time of opportunity to rethink what’s important and how we choose to live our lives, run our businesses, cooperate and co-create with our neighbors.
It’s in that spirit that I offer this “alternative” perspective on the practice of gratitude and how a simple shift can make a profound difference in your life and in the world.
Several years ago, the topics of gratitude, abundance, and the scarcity mentality came up in a conversation I was having with my client, Dr. Sue. She had long been struggling to reach certain goals and had been in a constant state of “not enough” for many years. A “success guru” had suggested she start keeping a daily gratitude journal.
Was it working?
Dr. Sue: “Oh. You don’t have to tell me about the power of having gratitude. I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal for over ten years.”
Me: “How’s it working?”
Dr. Sue: “What do you mean?”
Me: “Has it created the abundance you have hoped for?”
Dr. Sue: “Well, I’m now more appreciative of the things I have.”
Me: “That’s great, but do you still find yourself thinking about things you don’t have and could or should have?”
Dr. Sue: “Of course, that’s why I work so hard!”
Me: “What are the chances that what you’ve been practicing is ‘having gratitude’ or what we might call “havitude?”
Dr. Sue: “Havitude? What do you mean by that?”
For decades self-help “gurus” have been promoting gratitude as a practice pushing the belief that being grateful for what you have will enable you to have more.
In its purest form, a gratitude practice is not intended as a technique to “get more.” Rather, it’s intended as a practice of taking time to appreciate all that is good in our lives. Unfortunately, that’s not how many, if not most, people approach it.
Me: “Would you be willing to take a look at gratitude from a different perspective?”.
Dr. Sue: “Ok.”
Me: “Great. Consider this…”
Clearly, saying thank you and expressing appreciation for what others do for you is good, appropriate, and valuegenic. That’s not the practice that this article is about.
A More Valugenic Practice of Gratitude
I invited Dr. Sue to try this on…
“In your gratitude practice, start with gratitude for the value you have created in the world and the lives of others. Focus first on how you made a difference, no matter how small or inconsequential it might seem. Only then connect the dots between the value you created and the value that comes back to make a difference in your life. You see, abundance is a creative process, not a receiving event.
“Real success in life is not about the value you get, but rather, the value you create.”
Gratitude in the form of havitude is only about YOU getting yours – and it creates scarcity!
When your practice is to focus on creating value (a “valuegenic mindset”) you add to the field of abundance and naturally engage the Law of Reciprocity.
Life rewards value creation! Like a bank account, adding value builds abundance while just taking it in without replenishment diminishes abundance and leads to scarcity.
You can create value in a million ways, large and small: from a warm smile to an understanding ear; from a financial gift to a helping hand; from doing a great job to doing an act of kindness for a stranger. The key to experiencing greater abundance in your life is to create greater abundance in your world.
Sometimes, it’s hard to see the connection between the value you create and the value you receive or experience as a result. That’s because the Law of Reciprocity is not always a one-to-one linear process. Sometimes you’ll create value in the “right field,” and the value seems to come back “out of left field” and at a time when you least expect it. However, when your heart and mind are genuinely rooted in a valuegenic mindset, the reward of giving is often enough – that alone replenishes us.
Creating value requires that we give of our self, not give up our self. It is NOT about inappropriately sacrificing your well-being for the sake of the “greater good” as if you are somehow a “lesser good.” Your well-being matters. You matter just as much as anyone else. There is no increase in abundance or virtue when you give up too much of your self or in such a way as to add to your own struggles and suffering.
A healthy gratitude practice is one that recognizes both the creating and the receiving, in balance and in that order.
Imagine what would happen if more people practiced this form of gratitude rather than havitude? Imagine what would happen in your relationships, your work or business, and your self-esteem when you seek opportunities to create value rather than just get it.
Imagine if our global collective mindset were rooted in The Central Question:
What choice can I make and action can I take,
in this moment, to create the greatest net value?
For the tens of thousands of clients Axiogenics coaches have worked with over the years, the difference that a valuegenic mindset and the practice of intentional value creation makes in people’s lives and organizations is nothing short of transformational. And THAT is something I am profoundly grateful to have been able to give.