Cultivate Gratitude

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

~Proverbs 16:9 ESV~

        Sometimes when life feels uncertain, we desire to know what is happening next and control the outcomes. We believe that if we know everything that’s going to happen, we can avoid pain and disappointment. Even though that might sound good on the surface, it is not only false but harmful. One of the hard but true things about life is not all good or all bad, but a beautiful mixture. Often the toughest moments bring the most growth, if we stay present and open in the midst of things.

         If we want to live authentically, we must accept the light and the dark moments. If you’ve been on this journey with me for a while, you might notice I quote Brené Brown abundantly and I won’t be stopping anytime soon. ;) Her words resonate with me at a soul level. She  expresses the truth about (accepting) the full spectrum of emotions beautifully: 

        “You can't numb those hard feelings without numbing the other affects, our emotions. You cannot selectively numb. So when we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness. And then we are miserable, and we are looking for purpose and meaning, and then we feel vulnerable, so so then we have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin*. And it becomes this dangerous cycle.”

~Brené Brown,The Gifts of Imperfection~

(*Note: For context, she’s not saying these things are essentially bad, but that it’s unhealthy when we numb ourselves with food, alcohol, shopping, entertainment, or anything else we can find to not feel the hard emotions)

Gratitude is the key to all things good in my life, as well as the key to resilience,

        I have written a lot about gratitude lately, and this is why. It is the key to all things good in my life. What we focus on expands, so I make intentional gratitude a priority. As I look for things to be grateful for, those lovely things become my center, so that even when times are tough, I can navigate the mixture. Some of you know this, but I run a Facebook page 100% focused on my local community. My favorite side effect from running the page is that I am constantly looking for beautiful things around me I can post. Creating this positive content has made me deeply appreciate and love where I live! Nothing changed in my surroundings, but when I focused on good things, I began to see the world differently. The subtle colors that I may have missed completely came into focus. 

        The same is true for our businesses - what we focus on will grow and inspire us to create even more. When we have our vision in mind, we will go forward with courage and develop our businesses in our own unique way. However, being creative doesn’t mean improvising completely. ‘Winging it’ will never get us as far as having a plan and a direction. This doesn’t mean that our plans have to be rigid and inflexible, but we need to know where we are going so that we know when we get there. If you have a plan and a direction that is both specific and flexible, you can make a conscious decision to change the plan. It is a delicate balance, being in the moment while we keep glancing up to remind ourselves of our intentions for the future.

        I was looking at my Facebook group demographics the other day, and I noticed that it was 90% women. I want to see men included, because it will add value and enrich the conversation. So I focused on what men I could invite to my group, and now I have ten instead of three, and I fully expect to see it multiply further. As we keep examining our businesses and asking ourselves what we want to see, we’ll see how to make that happen. 

        Think back to your goals in January. If you wrote them down, go ahead and look at them. Are you still pursuing the same goals? It’s okay if you aren’t. But are they goals you still want to pursue? You have to be where your feet are, and if things have changed, you’ll need to adjust your plans as well. Let’s pay attention to our intuitions and God’s voice as we navigate the unforeseen circumstances that are sure to come up. We can be grateful for exactly where we are, accept the mixture, and let our plans reflect the moment-by-moment revelations and revisions.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” 

~Oprah Winfrey~

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