Living in a Spirit of Gratitude

November 18, 2020

It’s nearly Thanksgiving—my favorite time of the year. I love this holiday more than any other mainly because the expectations are spending time with family and friends, indulging in really great food derived from age-old recipes, and daytime napping is allowed (if not encouraged). But most important to me is the spirit of gratitude that’s fundamental to Thanksgiving.  For the past several years, I’ve worked hard to live in gratitude. It’s not easy. I’m impatient, often petulant, and a bit impossible by nature. That’s a lot to combat. But life threw a few wrenches directly at me and the result was an awakening of thankfulness. I strive to keep that at the forefront—and do—most days.

This year has been tough. Really tough. 2020 has been a collective global challenge on so many levels.  Of course, the pandemic tops the list with all its accompaniments: isolation, unemployment, and so much more. Add in the polarization surrounding the 2020 U.S. election, and it can be hard to live in gratitude. But I think the alternative isn’t an acceptable choice.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” Include all things in your gratitude. Wow. Emerson is right. We are who we are because of all that we encounter—the good, the bad, and all that’s in between. Now the hard part: cultivating gratitude as a habit.

Every night, I take time to reflect on my day and journal the one or two things that occurred that I’m thankful for or that were significant. The discipline required to make this exercise a habit has been unlike anything I’ve accomplished before. I’ve had misses, but most every day for the last four years, I’ve taken time to reflect. Then, each morning, I start my day by reading what I wrote the night before. It may seem simple, but this practice has made a difference. I’m still difficult at times, but I’m trying, and my journal is influential to living in gratitude.

I challenge each of you to strive to live in gratitude. What discipline or exercise can you put into practice to cultivate a life focused on gratitude? Yes, there will always be challenges. But, there will always be things to be thankful for. The American children’s author, Douglas Wood, said “The heart that gives thanks is a happy one, for we cannot feel thankful and unhappy at the same time.”

Despite the disruption and challenges this year, and in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’d like to share with you what I’m most thankful for in 2020: my health, friends who are family, my SMPS family and the opportunity to serve as president, terrific business partners and a thriving first-year company, airline extensions on travel rewards, (finally) discovering Dan Levy and “Schitt’s Creek”, and (mostly) making People Magazine with my new rescue cat named Steak.

Happy Thanksgiving. Be well. Be grateful.

Article written by SMPS President Doug Parker, FSMPS, CPSM, who is principal of Elevate Marketing Advisors. He can be reached at doug@elevatemarketingadvisors.com.

Editor’s note: Steak appears to be a ham and has demanded his own Instagram page. To keep up with his happenings, follow him @acatnamedsteak.