recognizing and appreciating what is

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.
— Marcus Tullius Cicero

Every being defines abundance and happiness differently. Each definition is unique, for there is no right way to define them. On our journey we may at times find it challenging to maintain our happiness, while simultaneously satiating our thirst for abundance. Societally, we are conditioned to want more...“If I just had that position...that car...that house...that person in my life...If I could only earn x number of dollars...If my kids got into ‘that’ school...I would be happy.”. Consequently, we are constantly, unconsciously measuring or comparing ourselves to what “successful” others have. Often, this happiness becomes contingent upon external events and things. Even when it is achieved, there remains a certain emptiness within...“What can I acquire next that will bring me happiness?”.

In the fast-paced world of the executive and entrepreneur, life is often an unfolding series of incidents and events, both agreeable and distressing. Hour by hour, day by day, your life is full of them. It makes it very difficult to see the big picture of all that is happening. If these occurrences were simply arranged like a balance sheet in which the events were listed as positive or negative, you would likely be surprised to see how commonly the good outweigh the bad. And yet, many of us concentrate on the problems and burdens of the day and seldom give thought to the pleasant and satisfying things that happen each day. Ongoing negative thinking not only drains our energy, but also clouds our perspectives. When our business in not running smoothly, we can become easily dismayed and prone to impatience, taking things personally or dwelling on the past, and find ourselves complaining, criticizing and judging ourselves and others. We become absorbed in negative energy and consequently, are not present.

Ironically, the key to conquering fear is to not resist it. Fear is natural, as is our resistance to change. Recognizing fear within ourselves and practicing acceptance of it are powerful tools. It is imperative we learn to identify the many faces of fear and accept them–without reacting to them. When we understand that giving inappropriate attention to the past or future allows fear’s illusory reality to control us, we learn to be present in the moment. We see that we cannot control what has happened in the past, nor can we control future events. As a result, we are able to act on the one thing we do have control over: the present moment..... there, we find inner balance and clarity.

Gratitude as a Tool for Problem Solving

When we are presented with a challenge, practicing gratitude, can create an immediate increase in positive energy and presence. When you are fully present in the moment, you are aware. When you are practicing gratitude, it is virtually impossible to cloud your mind with negative thinking. Rather than resisting what is occurring, fighting it or being a victim of it, you choose to practice full acceptance of ‘what is’. As a result, you gain clarity–you begin to see the patterns, the significance of reoccurring events and the synchronicity of it all. You are conscious and present and therefore able to see the choices and take ‘right action’.

Gratitude Creates Insights

Living life with “an attitude of gratitude”, simply seeing the glass as “half full” instead of “half empty”, allows you to see opportunities in situations, with an openness to change. While others may react negatively to change or a situation, you are able to be disciplined, calm and see the event as a challenge instead of a problem. You know in your heart and mind there is a solution to every challenge, and often a nugget of gold imbedded in that problem–something others do not or cannot see. Another virtue of living with a perspective of gratitude, is freedom–freedom from fear, which allows you to see with unrestricted and authentic clarity.


There is a pervasive nature to abundance. As you practice seeing the abundance in your life and embrace the gift of each new day and opportunity, you will notice how this affects others. If someone is not receptive to such a powerful philosophy of living, they will leave the “madness” on their own accord. Overall, you will see positive changes in those around you as a result of simply being with you and around you.

A Reflection

“For three generations prior to my father, my family farmed. From the summers I spent on the farm, every aspect of my current work ethic was learned. It was the best education possible. As an adult, my businesses grew and I tasted success, though it was never quite enough. The void after “acquiring” was almost numbing and I seldom felt successful. After some timely self-exploration, I discovered gratitude. On the farm, life was simple. My grandparents were humble, kind and loving. They were in constant gratitude for what the land, our great country and nature provided – there was always enough, even through the Great Depression. They were happy people who lived in abundance. Since then, society has changed and lifestyles have changed. What I have re-learned from my past, is to live one day at a time. Although I am not milking the cows before dawn or checking on the horses each night, I begin and end each day with a meditation or prayer of gratitude. Today, I’m truly grateful for life and very happy.”
WR, Entrepreneur

You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might pray also in the fullness of your joy.
— Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet


Questions for Self-Exploration

The content, structure and flow of this exercise are designed to guide you in:

  • examining gratitude in your life and becoming aware of what you are grateful for

  • learning how gratitude or lack of, affects your thoughts and actions

  • recognizing expression of gratitude

  • applying this knowledge to further enrich your life