What Does It Mean to Practice Gratitude?
Issue 83, Nov 23, 2022
We’ve been thinking about gratitude, and not just because it’s the season. Every era has its set of challenges and disasters, and each ensuing decade we think it’s getting worse. But we would argue that perception is based on the human condition that we are risk averse and generally content to live in a safe and secure bubble, professionally and personally. That’s not an indictment, it’s just the way we are wired.
So, on the surface, it looks like the world falling apart in front of us: mass killings, the never-ending war in Ukraine, a crypto-financial meltdown (that actually may be a good thing), cyberbullying and misinformation, global warming, an ongoing, divisive political stand-off, and you name what else. Yet, this is where gratitude comes in. We are resilient. We never give up. We transform our businesses. We pivot. We help strangers. We continue to have children. We course correct. We prevail.
Put into context, at 2040 we encourage our clients to practice gratitude, coming from a place of mindfulness and awareness. What does that mean? Active listening. Thinking outside of oneself and instead in the minds of customers and clients. Collaboration. Facing conscious bias and uncovering unconscious bias. Giving stakeholders a voice. Transparency and authenticity. Confident humility. Honesty. Thanking people. Even handwriting personal notes!
These attributes are not cliches. They are the backbone of any enlightened organization, society and for ourselves. Gratitude is compassion, and compassion is based on empathy — the thread that connects us. Because we are a curious team, we took a look at the original Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving address to see where it all started. It opens with gratitude to the people: “Today we have gathered, and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as people.” And after acknowledging every single element of the natural and supernatural worlds, it ends with the closing words: “We have now arrived at the place where we end our words. Of all the things we have named, it was not our intention to leave anything out. If something was forgotten, we leave it to each individual to send such greetings and thanks in their own way. Now our minds are one.”
But there is one passage in the address that particularly caught our attention.