There is much to be thankful for. Part of gratitude is stepping back from our daily routine to meditate on our blessings and allow ourselves to be humbled by our good fortune. Let's take a moment to give thanks for the opportunities we're afforded. Let's all take a deep breath, and consider our place in the universe—recognizing our incredible luck, even in the hard times. Especially in the hard times. This is what it means to actively practice gratitude.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we asked our staff to call out the things they're grateful for. We gave them a gratitude jar and a whiteboard to submit their responses. We also had a great discussion, prompted by the questions from this weeks #bufferchat on gratitude.
Whiteboard/Gratitude Jar Responses
- Hot tea on a soggy day
- Dry pants after a super wet commute
- Elizabeth Warren
- Dryer exhaust smell
- Lauren B (because she believes in me when nobody else does)
- Fireplaces (and presumably the fires in fireplaces)
- Dogs that love to snuggle
- When the clouds clear just in time to see the sun
- Petting a cat who just came in from the cold. Purrrrrrrr
- Fresh bread sniffs
- Fully yoga days
- The Oregon coast
- Net Neutrality
- Glitter boots
- For those random opportunities to pay some unexpected kindness forward
- Everyone’s sense of humor
- Running water
- June (month of)
- For being here
- A favorite mug of hot tea or coffee!
- A finely made sandwich (comment not written by Nate)
- Secret satan (probably ‘secret santa’)
- Amazing coworkers
- For all the hardships that made me stronger
How does practicing gratitude impact your daily life?
• Christian—It makes me grateful for the little things in life.
• Stephen—Every single day I am grateful for many things!
• Whitney—Helps me appreciate the small things, the unfortunate things, the weird things, the joyful things, the fluffy things and really all the things.
• Courtney—It allows me to stay connected and present in all of my relationships.
• Lauren B—As cheesy as it sounds, I'm pretty stoked to wake up every morning so it makes it easy to feel grateful for the rest of it.
• Chase—I feel deeply, deeply lucky.
• Ben—It is critical to my overall happiness. It's impossible to be anxious, fearful, or angry when practicing gratitude.
• Nate—Daily gratitude is a frequent reminder to stay humble. Otherwise we lose perspective, we become too large.
When is expressing gratitude a difficult practice for you?
• Christian—It becomes particularly difficult for me during times of hardship.
• Stephen—When life is throwing lemons at me.
• Whitney—When it feels forced
• Courtney—When I have had a trying day. The gloomy cloud becomes a barrier that I am not always the best at shooing away.
• Chase—When I miss the bus
• Lauren B—When I'm tired or stressed. Those states of being make it easy to look at the world from a gloomy perspective and assume that that's the truth and not just your perception in that tired, grey moment
• Ben—When gratitude isn't reciprocated, it becomes somewhat difficult. Ironically, I think that is when I'd benefit most in practicing it.
• Nate— It’s always difficult! True gratitude is a pain in the ass. It takes time, concentration and humility. The very practice of gratitude is clunky since it runs counter to a winner-take-all culture of entitlement.
Do you have any advice for starting a gratitude practice?
• Linda—Start a positivity jar. Write something positive/what you are grateful for that day on a piece of paper every day for a year
• Lauren B—Just say thank you....always and often
• Courtney—Start small. If you set an unrealistic goal, you run the risk of quitting before you have even started
• Whitney—Every morning when you wake up, that's the first point where you can practice gratitude. In the moment everyday you can appreciate the simplicity of opening your eyes and taking a deep breath. From there you can expand in a way that speaks most to you
• Stephen—Shift perspective to focus on all the blessings your life has.
• Christian—Take your time with things, something about stopping to smell/appreciate some roses or something
• Ben—To really build it as a regular practice, I think it's as important to be grateful for everyday things as it is to be grateful for the extraordinary. Keep it honest, and keep it simple.
• Nate—Yeah, give me back my ‘ing.’ Practic-ing gratitude rather than a gratitude practice is very important, and not just semantics. Practicing is to purposefully engage and be present. Remove the -ing and you’ve got ritual and habit, you check out and go through the motions. “Time for my 3:00 gratitude sesh. Gotta find something to be grateful for.” This is how we lose touch with true gratitude.
Who inspires you to practice or think about gratitude in new ways?
• Christian—My parents never cease to surprise me
• Stephen—People who work hard and don't complain.
• Whitney—My friends, family and life experience make me oh so grateful! A good book is "Wherever you, there you are". It's not specific to gratitude, but rather to being present.
• Courtney—My boyfriend. He is so good at recognizing how the same form of gratitude does not work for everyone. He has this amazing way of expressing personalized gratitude
• Ben—My kids. The fascination they find in the simplest discoveries helps ground my perspective
• Nate—Tragedy is an incredible inspiration. It’s easy to grow comfortable and soft in a life of privilege. Driving past a horrible car accident is just the eye-opener we need to shock us out of complacency and thank our lucky stars.
What challenging experience has ended up changing your life for the better?
• Linda—Hearing the words "that's cancerous and needs to be removed immediately. You may or may not need to go through chemo." Having a health scare will put things in perspective quickly and afterwards when a scar remains, it reminds you that you have plenty to be thankful for.
• Stephen—Breaking my leg and the birth of my daughter. Both experiences have brought tremendous growth.
• Whitney—I've moved nearly every year since I was born. Rarely has it been a piece of cake, but I am incredibly grateful for the hardships, the struggle, the exploration and how it had shaped me for better or worse.
• Courtney—A terrible former employer followed by unemployment. As scary as it was to be unemployed, I made a promise to myself, then and there, that I would only work for a company that valued who I was and who I wanted to be. I let go of a lot (not all) of my insecurities and just let my best self shine through. That is how I ended up here, working for a company who not only values me, but whom I value as well.
• Chase—Getting assigned female. ;-) Gender is awkward and sexism is rotten, but I've learned a lot about life that I don't think that I would have learned otherwise.
• Ben—Becoming a parent.
In this moment, what's something you may take for granted that you are truly grateful for? How will you express that?
• Christian—Waking up everyday with family and friends, I ought to take more time in my day to step back and truly appreciate everything and everyone that I have
• Stephen—Having a place to live and sleep. Trying to be more mindful of how amazing that is.
• Whitney—Living with my brother. Often, living with him makes me want to ice cream scoop my ears and eyes out. Today I will call him and tell him I love him and appreciate his role in my life. :)
• Courtney—The beauty in life even in my most trying of days. I will express this by taking a deep breath, smiling at the sky and giving my loved ones a big squeeze!
• Chase—I'm grateful that I have amazing friends and that I live in beautiful Portland, Oregon. I'm grateful for delicious food and delicious tango dancing. I'm grateful that I work at an amazing B Corp, that I really like my coworkers, and that my job is one that I enjoy. The desk that we make is truly awesome, and I'm grateful that we get to share it with the world. I express gratitude by thanking people for existing and being awesome, and for doing things that make me happy, like feeding me and dancing with me and making wonderful desks.
• Ben—To work for a company that cares about what's truly important in life. I plan to hug as many colleagues as I can when I leave the office tonight.
• Nate—Access to a clean and heated public swimming pool: one of the true luxuries of a civilized democracy. I’ll express my gratitude by taking my daughter swimming right away.