When going through a difficult stretch in my life, someone once asked me, “What is it that gets you through?” Much to my surprise, the word “gratitude” found its way to my lips. The odd thing was I did not know where it came from, or how it found its way into my heart, let alone my consciousness. Because those moments were inky dark and unknown – the path before me unclear and uncertain. I was full of anxiety, with a driving desire to return things to “normal.” As if normal could be a place to return.
How often when faced with changes in staff, in growth, or fulfillment at work do we ache for something that feels “more normal”?
In pondering gratitude, I realized that there is no normal, no constant. The courses we chart, the maps we lay out for achievements or goals are all there, but they, too, change as the external environment shifts around us. In those changes, we are offered opportunities to discover who we really are, what we really want, and what gentle (or perhaps not so gentle) shifts that are being asked of us. This can be tough stuff. But equally a place where gratitude surfaces ever so gently to guide us.
So when my kind questioner asked me specifically I was grateful for — was it one particular thing or person? — I could shake my head and, instead, name a multitude of small things. Little things I took for granted, like my health, my kids, my home, my family and friends.
Gratitude was, I realized in that moment, my lifeline. It lifted me. It reminded me of the glimmers of things – that but for the darkness – would have blended into the warmth of the sun or woven unseen into the busyness of the day. It reminded me that it is ultimately my choice to engage wholeheartedly, or not. Genuinely, or not. Kindly, or not. Unseen, it was my guide into bringing the change I had sought in the way I wanted.
What I mean is that when things are changing – employees leaving or new ones on-boarding, partners retiring or new ones made, families growing or empty-nesters becoming – it can feel unusual and uncertain. In that space, if invited in, gratitude becomes the healer, and the beacon into our next chapter.