Someone asked me the other day what my one word was. What word was the anchor in my life? The word that everything else is built on?
I’d been speaking about what I do and why I do it.
I help people find their strengths and capabilities and to realise they have the potential to change their lives and the lives of others. I do this with individuals, teams and organisations in lots of different ways; coaching, training, facilitating, being a change catalyst. I give people the confidence to take action, to live and lead consciously.
My one word had been resilience for a long time and anyone who knows my story would probably agree. But as I let the question settle for a moment and took a mindful breath I realised that now my one word is gratitude. This is the one word that sits behind who I am and what I do.
I’m so incredibly grateful for all that has happened in my life, for all the people in my life, for everything that I am and everything that I have, for all the opportunities I’ve had and for those yet to come.
I’m not sure exactly when it changed but I’m so glad it did.
The first time I consciously began to practice gratitude was doing a 30 day gratitude challenge a few years ago. It involved writing and journaling so it sounded like my kind of thing.
The challenge was to first think of a time when you were really grateful, then let your mind paint the picture clearly, sounds, smells, sensations and to let your body really feel what it was like to be grateful and to remember the feeling.
Then for 30 days write down 5 things that you’re grateful for just before you go to sleep. They don’t have to be as momentous as your initial memory, but as you think about the 5 things small or huge, remember how it feels to be grateful and with that feeling in your body, write down the 5 (or more) things.
Before the challenge I’d gone to bed and sleep thinking about all the things I didn’t get done, and the stuff I still needed to do tomorrow, (hardly a good recipe for a restful sleep). I was focused on the negative, and I didn’t have enough, I wasn’t enough.
As the challenge progressed I began to see that actually my day was full of small joyful moments. And I realised I had done lots of things and had lots of conversations that were pretty damned good. Then I started to recognise the small joyful moments as they happened and my body recognised the feeling too. Small joys and lots to be grateful for. I generally went to sleep feeling much calmer and woke up looking forward to the next day.
For over 2 ½ years I’ve journaled at least 5 reasons to be joyful and grateful almost every night without fail. I’ve filled several books with 4,914 grateful scribblings.
And what I quickly realised is that far and away the things that were most important to me, that brought me the most joy, and that I was most grateful for were my family – a hug here, a laugh there, a chat about small things, shared meals, a smile, a touch. Lots of chats and interactions with friends were next. It helped me realise that for me relationships are the way to change yourself and the world. And it made me appreciate the joy that my family and friends bring to me.
Try the 30 day gratitude challenge yourself and see what happens.
What’s your one word? What’s the cornerstone word of your life?
Thanks for reading