Resilient Hope Self-Awareness

I Missed Something

Two weeks ago, I posted a piece on Thanksgiving as a Lifestyle. I went on to list some of the benefits of having a daily routine of keeping something like a Gratitude List.

But, I missed something. 

I was reminded of this when I read and an article earlier this week on Kris Vallotton’s blog about a tough Christmas in his home.  What Kris did the following year was tremendous

So, I would add this benefit to my list:

Gratitude is an antidote to the corrosive tendency to feel entitled to something that is really a gift.

For those of us who are comfortable, and in the West that is most of us, a sense of entitlement can creep up on us. Entitlement causes us to envy and to compare ourselves with others. We have all done it.

Nevertheless, it is both stupid and destructive. When I observe and serve those less fortunate, I return my thoughts to that which I otherwise take for granted and instead give thanks, then I wake up and become reasonable again. I see things from a more mature perspective and realise that I am blessed.

A feature of this kind of deep benefit of giving thanks is that it is not always immediately obvious to us. It sometimes takes years, if ever, to come to our awareness.

So may I wish you a fabulous holiday season, however you celebrate it, and may you realise how truly blessed you are this Christmas!

Personal Margin Positive Outliers Resilient Hope Self-Awareness

Thanksgiving as a Lifestyle

Preface: As you read this, you may think this article is posted a week late. Please read on.

Outside of the USA, most countries do not celebrate Thanksgiving as a holiday. And here in the UK, there is a particular suspicion over American holidays. (For example, we Brits have mixed feelings at best about the Independence Day holiday.) However, for the last two years, some friends of ours have invited my wife and me, along with other friends and families, to their Thanksgiving meal. This is unusual because our friends are also British.

Why is this? Well, they say,

“Thanksgiving is like having Christmas, but with people you like.” 

So, we have a great time enjoying each other’s company, playing games, overindulging in delicious food. Then there is that moment where we go around the table, young and old, each saying what we are grateful for this year; it’s a special moment.

Now, I’m sure you have received emails from American suppliers, as I have, who have written messages at this time as to why they are thankful for you, their customer.

However, I have come to value thanksgiving as a lifestyle. I give thanks all the time. I realise it is just good mental health.

A key practice for me is my Gratitude List, that I add to every day during my daily work planning. I write it on the opposite page to my Daily Heads-Up. You can find out more about the Gratitude List in my daily routine in

Over time, I have become aware that this daily practice has contributed to some important, benefits. Here are a few of them:

  • It balances my natural tendency to look for the negative. This is called the negativity bias and is an important survival mechanism, where I scan my environment for threats. We all have this bias. This may be natural, but if left unchecked, it can colour our view of life. When we allow ourselves to live in chronic negativity then this can lead to depression, or worse. The emotional mood music of our lives can become dysfunctional, anxious and over-cautious. Rampant negativity can make any otherwise healthy hope feel downright ridiculous.
  • Since keeping a daily gratitude list, I notice more positive experiences, that I might not have given due thought to, even less have taken a moment to celebrate.
  • I dwell on these positive experiences more deliberately now. As I do, I find something shifts in me. My heart becomes more positive and generous. I am more hopeful, less likely to be overwhelmed by any negativity that I may encounter.
  • As I hold myself to this daily practice, it makes me hunt for the positive. Sure, there are some days, I cannot think of three positive experiences from the day before, but then I lift my thoughts to the more long-term factors that I enjoy, such as a marriage to a truly wonderful woman, as well as friends and family that I really do not deserve.
  • I find myself in interesting conversations with God, to whom I give thanks for it all.
  • Bréne Brown describes a phenomenon she discovered in her research interviews that she calls foreboding joy. I recognise this psychodynamic in me when I had felt some moment of joy. And then, almost immediately, the thought comes, ‘but this won’t last; I will have to pay for it.’ As I hold myself accountable for giving thanks daily by writing it down, I can now recognise this and I laugh at this lie. It’s weakening. It still comes back occasionally, but it is losing the battle to occupy space in my thinking.
  • Overall, I realise that my emotional worldview has shifted from the negative to the positive. My lens has changed, from ‘What should I be worried about?’ to ‘What are blessings am I not noticing?’ This could be described as a personal paradigm shift or a change in my confirmation bias.

I wholeheartedly recommend making thanksgiving a lifestyle. It changes everything.

Do you agree? Do you do something similar? Let me know.

Photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash

Positive Outliers

Gratitude: the anti-oxidant to stress

I want to begin by thanking you.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you are an essential reason for my work. You bring out the best in me. I’m very grateful for that. 

So, thank you. I wish the very best for you and your loved ones this festive season.

In my work on the Most Powerful Daily Routine, gratitude, saying thanks, is a principal part of it all. The effects of appreciation on the person giving thanks are many. One of the most significant benefits for me is that it raises me above the voice that says, “You’re getting nowhere. You are just going around in circles. There is no progress.” By merely listing three things I am thankful for in the last twenty-four hours is convincing in shaking me out of that lie.

As I write my gratitude list, I usually surprise myself. “Oh! Yes, I did have a productive day yesterday, didn’t I?” or “Yes, there are some important steps behind me now.”

A Gratitude List is a powerful anti-oxidant to stress.

So it boosts my motivation as I go into the next day.

Here is an example, over a few days in June, of how I used this with an analogue daily planner:

A daily routine with a gratitude list

The daily log – my planning and prioritisation process – is on the left-hand side, and the gratitude list is on my right-hand side.

I explore this routine more deeply on my Leading Yourself online workshop, which I will be re-launching soon. I will also be opening the Positive Outlier Academy for those wanting to meet like-minded people who wish to grow so that they bring their best selves to their work.

As you can see, a lot of the items I am thankful for are in my relationships with those around me. This reality for me is likely to be the case for you too.

And here’s the paradox that the run-up to the holiday season highlights for many of us:

  • What is of most value to us is not about the stuff, about material things, but the people, particularly the people we love; and
  • What often erodes our relationship with these people is just busyness and the urgency that we let take over our lives. We are just too busy to give people that most precious gift: our time. I explore that more in the Leading Yourself workshop.
There’s a paradox in the run-up to Xmas: people matter more than stuff, but urgency means relationships suffer.

Since this is the last article I am planning to publish before 2018, I thought I’d try something different,

My 2017 Gratitude List

So here goes…

What I am personally thankful for in 2017 for:

  • My wife, who is now fully recovered from her back injury, and again can make such a difference in the lives of everyone she meets; for our marriage, which, after 28 years, just seems to get richer and richer.
  • Our new home in Kent, England, which is a real gift.
  • Every family and person who opened their home to us in the eleven weeks between leaving Oxfordshire and moving into our new home.
  • The former colleagues and people with whom I worked at pearcemayfield while I was involved with that once great company.
  • The faith community at Eastgate, for their openness, courage, and authenticity, for inviting me into a journey that’s much bigger than I am, and that had drawn out of me such possibilities.
  • My growing number of subscribers, who keep me sharp and improve my work.
  • My clients, who trust me with their dreams.
  • The virtual Heaven in Business group, for their example and encouragement.
  • My children, their partners and our grandchildren, who each give me such deep joy in discovering and delighting in their uniqueness.
  • That I know 2018 will be even better!

Look out for some exciting announcements early in January.

I aim to kick off 2018 by opening the Positive Outlier Academy.

Also, if you want to know more about the Most Powerful Daily Routine, I will be launching a refreshed version of the Leading Yourself online workshop, as well as some new material on writing.

For some of us, the run-up to the holidays is acutely stressful.

It shouldn’t be so.

So here’s something that might help you. I’d encourage you to write your own 2017 Gratitude List, and see what happens. Gratitude is a tremendous anti-oxidant to stress.

Let me know how you get on. Leave a comment below.

A free course that takes you through the workflows of how I use bullet journaling for my Daily Heads Up, Gratitude List, Weekly and Monthly reviews.