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One Word: Gratitude

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into
a friend. It turns problems into gifts, failures into successes, the
unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events.
It can turn an existence into a real life, and disconnected situations
into important and beneficial lessons. Gratitude makes sense of our
past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
—Melody Beattie

Happy New Year everyone! January is celebrated in many countries as a time to say goodbye to the “old” and welcome the “new” into our lives. It is a month for setting a list of well-intentioned goals for the upcoming year. As I ponder the whole concept of New Year’s resolutions and how easily the most determined of us fall down and come short of meeting the goals we set for ourselves, I have to ask: do we truly fail? Or do we simply underestimate what it takes to reach our purpose, our intentions, and our goals?

With this in mind, I am suggesting we begin a new tradition — one that involves choosing one word, just for you. Rather than make a list of “shoulds” for the New Year, decide on one word that has meaning for you in some way. A single word can be a powerful thing. It can be the ripple in the pond that changes everything. It can be sharp and biting or rich and meaningful. It can be a catalyst for enriching your life and becoming more of who you truly are.

Start by choosing one word to focus on, meditate on, and reflect upon as you go about your daily life. This word will find its way into who you are and into who you are becoming. It will be what you’ve needed (and didn’t know you needed). It will help you to breathe deeper, to see clearer, and to grow.

The first step is to simply take some time and decide what kind of person you want to be at the end of this New Year. Beyond wishing for health and wealth (or going to the gym daily), choose a word that reflects a bit of soul searching. Decide who do you wish to be rather than what you wish to have.

Next identify the characteristics of such a person. Is this person gentle? Is this person generous? What are the qualities of the person you want to become?

Once you have a list of the characteristics, simply choose a word. There might be many things you want to change, so resist the temptation to promise you will do them all. Instead, simply commit to ONE WORD.

Choosing one word will provide you with a lens to see the changes you need to make as well as a way to check in and see if the change is actually happening. You may find this process challenging, however staying focused on your word will help you to stay on course and monitor, with compassion, your progress.

A word of caution: Don’t be surprised if living your “one word” feels unnatural and awkward at first. That is only natural and a sign that you are trying something new, opening to growth and change in yourself. Give it time and stay with it.

I have chosen the word “grateful” as I wish to be grateful for everything in my life, no matter what is in my future. I chose this word because I believe if I lack gratitude I could easily believe that wholeness and happiness will only happen when I reach a certain goal or when things on the outside change. The message I send myself, then, is that I am incomplete as I am and must be fixed, adjusted or changed somehow. On the contrary, when I live gratefully, I honor all of life, living from trust strength, openness, and with an inner knowing that everything can be a vehicle for learning and is, in some way, a gift to others.

I have learned that practicing gratitude is really a decision to give up all belief in lack. When I am grateful I change my perception, my brain, and my experience of the world. Being grateful, then, is a training in vision that helps me recognize and be thankful for what is already here, every day of the year. My wish is to dwell in gratitude.

As I reflected on what it means to practice gratitude, the following “Points to Ponder” showed up – I invite you to think about these questions and how you might answer them with regard to your own life. I welcome your comments.

  • What’s the value of gratitude? Why does it even matter?
  • Why aren’t people, especially Americans, more grateful?
  • What can we do to feel grateful the other 364 days of the year?
  • Are older people more grateful than younger people? Or is it the reverse?
  • We all know the value of connections, but where did the barriers come from
  • What can we do to topple them?
  • Who’s the most grateful person you know? Who’s your gratitude role model?
  • What is something—a conversation, advice you received, etc.—you became grateful for only well after it occurred? Why did it take you so long?
  • Have you lived a life that deserves gratitude from others?

What will YOUR one word be this year? What will you focus on for 2016? I invite you to share your word here and join the ONE WORD community for 2016.

Warm wishes for a joyful New Year!

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