In May, Meg and I were preparing for our weekly staff meeting. We had identified inefficiencies in the practice, in patient flow, and expenses that could be adjusted. As good dentists we were reviewing and excising mistakes in an eternal effort to do a little better every day. We felt down. Constant focus on negativity was having a depressing effect on us, dimming the light of positivity we have been surfing since the inception of MBrace. It was in this moment of perceived scarcity that was born the Month of Gratitude. We knew instantly that we needed to turn our perception around and revisit the abundance we have in our world. We imagined a month of giving thanks and recognition to everything that is going RIGHT.
And it worked.
So what have we learned from our month of gratitude? It has been an incredible infusion of happiness, a selfishly motivated self adjustment that has reinvigorated us. But more than boosting our happiness meter, a regular exercise of gratitude has given me further insight I would love to share with you as my top Gratitude Lessons:
- People are surprised when you thank them
Unbelievably people around us seem to be starved of recognition and thanks. Repeatedly we have received thanks for thanking! And how surprised people are when they are thanked! One gentleman directing traffic around a water main break couldn’t believe we were thanking him with an ice cream cone on a hot day. His disbelief warmed my heart and I realized we really don’t say thank you enough.
- A simple “Thank you” IS enough”
As a team we had decided to each write thank you cards to anybody who had made a difference in our work or in our day. Each of us had specific people we were grateful for. The words meant a lot. A sincere thank you made a huge impression with the people we thanked. A simple written card meant the world to the people around us.
- You don’t need to be rich to thank someone
Being a fledgling practice our budget is tight and we didn’t want to increase our financial burden with our gratitude experiment. We focused on heartfelt words written on our MBrace Gratitude cards, flowers cut from our gardens, and home made muffins. These acts of gratitude were felt more deeply not only by those who received them but they meant more to each of us. Every card I wrote focused my attention on my gratitude and gave it more value.
- Gratitude is contagious
It rubbed off! Stories of gratitude kept coming to us. My favorite story was from my mom who decided to use Gratitude as a theme for the Breast Cancer Support Group she holds once a month. What an enormous reward knowing that gratitude was affecting so many people!
- Gratitude DOES increase happiness
This really is true. At least, in my experiment of one, I have found this to be the most effective way to up my happiness meter. Focusing every day on what I am thankful for has become so incredibly rewarding. I feel surrounded by support and beauty that has always been there but that now enhance my day even more.
- Gratitude increases your sense of ABUNDANCE
On that same vein, I feel more WEALTHY! MBrace seems even more successful in our mission. Our reach seems broader than we were able to appreciate last month and our vision for MBrace as a community support is so much more apparent. We have dreamed of empowering those around us. This month I feel that we really do have that impact!
- Gratitude can conquer fear
About half way through this month I realized that what was contributing to my feelings of lack was a sense of fear. It is incredible how even the smallest fears will paralyze you and depress you. What is more incredible is how gratitude can turn fear on its head. In fact, gratitude makes you brave! Recognizing the gifts around us has made me so much more optimistic and confident.
I am so grateful to have this forum to share this revelation. Thank you for sharing this Month of Gratitude with us. Wherever you are on your journey through life I wish for you the gift of gratitude.