As motivational author and speaker Brené Brown says
“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practising gratitude.”
It’s still sinking in
I am still in a slight state of shock having received the news of being appointed MBE in the New Year’s Honours list. Apart from shock, the overwhelming feeling is of real thankfulness, not just for the recognition, but for the immense privilege that emotionally connecting with extraordinary people from every strata of society throughout my life has brought me to this place. I am genuinely grateful to everyone who taught me valuable lessons. My family, my friends, my teachers, my mentors, and all the people who have trusted me to help them move on in their lives.
I have always taught that it is incredibly important to let other people know that their efforts are recognised. Think about how wonderful it is when people thank you for something you have done for them. How does that feel, isn’t that the most wonderful boost you can experience? All people need to feel appreciated and expressing gratitude helps people meet those needs.
A New Year Revolution
As we start a New Year, who can you think of that will benefit from a boost? Give someone a genuine compliment today and take note of their reaction. It doesn’t have to be a major thing but it should be from the heart. Just notice what someone does well and verbalise it. It can be as simple as, “I admire the way you are so patient with clients.” I think that you will be surprised how this simple habit will increase how much more natural connection you will have with people.
The benefits of giving thanks
There are so many benefits of giving thanks for both yourself and others. Perhaps my gratefulness has been inspired by the challenging backgrounds of both my parents.
My father was a Hungarian refugee who didn’t arrive in the UK until he was 30 years old with just the clothes on his back. He always declared that he was very lucky despite, at 17 years old, having been in The Second World War in Germany stationed outside Dresden as it was bombed for 36 hours. At 18 years old he was with the allies as they entered Berlin in 1945.
After the war he was put in a prisoner-of-war camp until they could work out who was friend or foe. In 1956 he had to escape the Soviet invasion of Hungary by walking for four days in the snow. He then lived in a refugee camp for eight months in Austria, separated from his first wife and children. He somehow managed to practice a real attitude of gratitude and really saw his sometimes-leaky cup as always more than half full.
My mother was from a very insalubrious background in the tenements of the East End of Glasgow. She grew up in the war through genuine deprivation. Her father was away in the army and her mother brought up four children on her own. Again, she has always had a very positive outlook and worked incredibly hard to give me chances, beliefs, and attitudes that she never had. The look on her face when I told her that I was being appointed MBE was absolutely priceless and will live with me forever.
My only sadness is that my father is no longer with us to share the experience.
“The miracle of gratitude is that it shifts your perception to such an extent that it changes the world you see.” – Dr. Robert Holden
Like most people, I will have moments where I allow negativity to creep in, but all I have to do is think about the real problems that my parents overcame, and I realise the real privileges that I have in my life.
“When we focus on our gratitude, the tide of disappointment goes out, and the tide of love rushes in.” – Kristin Armstrong
One of the things that I’m most grateful for is a sense of humour. A sense of humour can help you reframe and reset everything in your life. If you can look at a problem and see the funny side, it somehow opens up the field of possibilities and gives you hope. Hope! Now that is something that John Sweeney understands at an elemental level.
Hope and Gratitude
John Sweeney – the investigative journalist, author and podcast host – who has spent most of the last year reporting from the war in Ukraine, says in the Humourology podcast and book
“A joke signals that you have a sense of humanity, a sense of humour, and you get it that you’re not a superhuman. That’s a social lubricant.”
The whole Humourology Project is built around understanding how important it is to have humour at the core of everything we do. People have survived extraordinary trials, tribulations, and turmoil by approaching their problems with an attitude of gratitude and a sense of humour to combat the slings and arrows that life throws at everyone.
What are you grateful for today?
One of the things that I’m immensely grateful for is the opportunity to talk to you and learn from immensely interesting and intelligent people. I recently recorded a podcast with Michael Glazer called Humans at Work
It was a fascinating conversation around the whole topic of how humour can improve your life with a laugh. We discussed how humour can build your resiliency and how approaching your problems with the right mindset, you can overcome anything in your way.
“I go back to the attitude of gratitude. Working with humans, means properly understanding humour. Understanding that humour is essential [because] it lubricates human relations, and therefore, humour is the essence of everything.”– Paul Boross
I hope you enjoy the conversation and will share my appreciation to Michael for letting me share my stories and ideas more widely to his huge podcast audience around the world.
Take a step back. Abundance is about feeling wealthy, with or without money. Turn on your attitude of gratitude and look at all the beautiful things you have.
What a great way to start the New Year.
Thank you to all the people who have got in touch to send their love congratulations on my being appointed MBE. I am really touched and truly grateful.
See you next Tuesday,