Monthly Archives: May 2018

The Importance of Gratitude

I still write “Thank You” notes. By hand. And put them in the post. Not for everything, but for a lot of things. People ask me why, and it’s because I believe saying “Thank You” is one of the most important things we can do to support and grow our relationships – both professional and personal.

When I worked in fundraising, we were taught that we needed to “thank” our donors or volunteers seven times. This didn’t mean that we said “thank you” seven times (or sent seven thank you notes – yikes!), but that in some way we expressed gratitude seven times between when they made their gift or volunteered their time until the next time they would do so.

For some people this may seem excessive, but for others it’s just the right amount. Wherever you land on the spectrum, what matters is that we have an understanding of why it’s important to say thank you.

Thank you

Firstly, simply acknowledging receipt is important. In this day and age of electronic gifting, it’s not always possible to know if someone received your gift (or message). So, we need to acknowledge receipt, and saying thank you is the easiest way to do that. It’s very embarrassing to be on the giving side of things and have to call someone to see if they received something we sent. It’s one of my least favorite things, to be honest, and I’ve had to do it more often than not.

Secondly, it’s important to express gratitude for the gifts in our life. There’s a simple truth that states: what we give, we get. Many spiritual thought leaders have taught this over the years, and it’s true. You get what you give. When we are grateful, and express our gratitude, we are actually inviting more blessings into our life. (There’s a reason we call it “giving thanks.”)

Now, we don’t give in order to receive, but it’s all part of the flow. You can’t escape it. So, if you are receiving and not giving in return, you will eventually stop receiving. (Nobody likes giving to people who don’t say thank you. Hint hint.)

In truth, saying “thank you” is more than the simple act implies. It’s about expressing appreciation and gratitude for someone else’s actions, actions that were born of thought… and that thought was of you. So, say thank you. It’s important.

 

Sour Grapes Make Bad Wine

Sour Grapes Quote

I was talking with a friend the other day, and we were both sharing similar stories of what happened when we had announced something successful in our lives. The common denominator after each announcement? We both “lost” followers/friends on online platforms.

*sigh*

Why do we do this? It takes a certain amount of thought and a deliberate action to “unfollow” or “unfriend” someone, and when it’s done in response to that person sharing some happy news, it simply causes me to shake my head in wonder.

But we’re human, right? We feel things and we get reactionary. I know I do. I do my best not to, and it’s definitely not my immediate “go-to” anymore, but sometimes it still happens. And when it does, I actually recoil myself and take a minute to pause, breathe, and reframe whatever is going on in my head – which is usually a story (hint: It’s always a story), as in:

That person doesn’t like me.
I’m not good enough.
There isn’t enough to go around.
They’re stealing my share.

Actually, I had a conversation a long time ago with someone who told me that somebody famous had “stolen her story,” which to her was her identity. In truth, it was both of their identities in some way, but because the famous person had said it first on an international stage, this person in front of me was convinced that she could never share her story, because there wasn’t room for her anymore. How sad.

That one conversation has stayed with me for years. I imagine it will stay with me forever. Why? Because it’s a tangible example of what happens when we live a life from a place of lack and fear, instead of a place of abundance and possibility. No two stories are exactly the same, however similar they may sound. The main difference is that no two people would share their stories in exactly the same way, which is what makes each person on the planet unique: their voice. It’s when you think otherwise that you leave room for resentment and envy to plant seeds.

Which brings me back to my original statement: Sour grapes make bad wine. 

When we approach someone else’s success or uniqueness with envy, resentment, frustration, or even anger, we are turning ourselves into sour grapes. And nobody likes that. Furthermore, when sour grapes are added into the barrel of life, they taint the wine, and nobody likes that. Eventually what happens is people start to exclude us, because they simply don’t want to be around something so bitter.

The flip side is also true, and for me it’s what I focus on. If someone is going to unfriend, unfollow, or even talk badly about me or my work – I can now choose to happily let them go, because I don’t want their sour grapes tainting my delicious barrel of wine. While the initial realization may sting a bit (again, we’re all human, and it obviously takes effort to unfollow someone), the truth is the best the balm I could ever imagine. And then I can find gratitude that they have removed themselves and self-identified as someone that doesn’t blend well with what I’m offering.

Or, to put it another way, as my friend Jen Pastiloff says: Instead of getting caught up in who doesn’t like you, get caught up in who does. 

Ahh… what sweet wine that is!

We Teach Expectations

One of the simplest truths came up again today when talking with a client: We teach people what to expect of us.

We teach expectationsIf you’re always willing to give, you teach people to expect that will always give. And then when you don’t… watch out! They get mad, and take offense.

Likewise, if you’re always taking, you teach people around you to expect that you won’t contribute, and eventually, they choose not to be around you.

Because nobody likes a one-way relationship. Right?

Expectations are the quicksand we were always told to fear in our youth. They catch us unaware and all too quickly snare us while slowly taking us under. And just like quicksand, we often need external assistance to help us get back on our feet.