Asking The Right Questions

What are you grateful for?

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That’s a question posted on my personal social media time lines periodically that I like to ask for a number of reasons. Gratitude is the feeling of being thankful –  and like all feelings are known only to the person feeling them. However something awesome happens when we take the particular feeling of gratitude and choose to take it from an internal feeling and actually transform/magnify it into physical form. That process intensifies the ‘thankfulness’ and it’s especially meaningful when you share that with someone who has made a positive impact on you. Daily expressions of gratitude are a great example of how to share strength based perspectives with those around you and are a great way for you to stay positive when you are busy, overwhelmed or tired.

In pondering which physical, spiritual or digital medium to use to pose such a Q, it forces me to answer the question myself and begin to look around for situations requiring gratitude. This takes the emotion and brings it to the front of my attention allowing me to perceive the world with a gratitude lens. In those moments, it almost seems like the things I am grateful for begin to glow brightly, much brighter than all the negatives that moments before occupied most of my attention span. Will it be a photograph to visually express or capture a moment? A hug to a neighbor or family member? Or a post asking others to look at the world with that gratitude lens for a second. In those moments,  it always strikes me as amazing how many tools we have at our disposal with which we can send out something powerful and positive by creatively expressing our gratitude. Smiles. Dollars. Tweets. Our example.

While searching for the good in my world I inevitably encounter a lot of negatives or barriers to positive thinking: cranky people and litter, negative or vulgar statuses, news articles – and when I focus my attention in that moment on those things that are not helpful to me, I naturally start thinking from a deficit based perspective. That negative frame of thinking is the norm and what is enforced on a regular basis in much of the music, TV or advertisements young people are accustomed to today. In the moments of darkness while I’m looking for the good I am reminded of where I don’t want to be and try to take note of any immediately accessible or visible lesson I can internalize to prevent myself or those around me from falling victim to preventable challenges in the future.

The execution is the most important part. The moment when your gratitude goes from being an emotion that lives inside you to an expression of gratitude that physically exists in the world requires focus and attention to detail. You must be aware of the many factors that are currently around that have potential to affect you and the object of your gratitude. Then you can carefully navigate the sea of possible darknesses or distractions to deliver your gratitude and challenge those around you to do the same.

Afterwards reading the responses is my personal favourite part of the whole process. When others have the courage to look around their world to identify what they are grateful for it creates waves that are felt by all involved. It allows us to appreciate the little things that we would often overlook. When I read and receive these expressions of gratitude I am reminded of how important it is to ask the right question. Questions that shine light instead of creating darkness. Questions that provide constructive tools for improvement. Questions that examine what is working so we can amplify and share the successes we experience.

And so I ask this question of you: ‘what are you grateful for?’

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