Thanksgiving- Why Be Grateful?

“If winter is slumber and spring is birth, and summer is life, then autumn rounds out to be reflection. It’s a time of year when the leaves are down and the harvest is in and the perennials are gone. Mother Earth just closed up the drapes on another year and it’s time to reflect on what’s come before.”   ~ Mitchell Burgess, Northern Exposure, Thanksgiving, 1992

Happy Thanksgiving! Today is, traditionally a time to express gratitude for the harvest produce and otherwise and in this age to express gratitude in general.  Openly, fully, loudly, sincerely declare a hearty ‘Thanks!”  With the seemingly inescapable economic slide and rippling effects shouted by calmly reported by the media in all forms, finding something to be grateful for can be a challenge.  I know, I have felt the blunt force of the “trouble of the past year plus”; my house is on the market, a work major contract ended and my husband and I find ourselves living in two different States due to all the craziness of the past year and a half. So why feel grateful. Heck what is there even to feel grateful for?

The bottom line is a large and growing body of research showing that gratitude is linked to well being. Folks, well being, in body, mind and spirit is invaluable. How else will you get up each day and do what needs to be done and how else will you experience pleasure?  Here are ways people who are more grateful experience well being:

  • They are happier, more satisfied with their relationships and life, and are less stress and less depressed. 1,2,3
  • Higher levels of personal growth, self- acceptance, sense of life purpose and control of their environments.4
  • More positive ways of coping life’s difficulties and changes, like seeking support when its needed, planning how to deal with the problem, reframing, growing form the experience.5
  • Fewer less negative coping strategies, like blaming yourself, denying there is a problem, avoidance, “better living through chemistry” substance abuse as a coping mechanism.5
  • Sleeping better, they think more positive than negative thoughts just before going to sleep.6

Even on the crappiest of days there is something to be grateful for, even when that does not seem possible. There are days where digging for the good is harder and darn near impossible, but the benefits are worth it.

I am grateful for:

  • The love and respect of my husband
  • My nephews (6 yrs and 3 yrs old) singing Happy 40th Birthday to me
  • My health
  • The challenges the year has thrown me and the opportunities that have sprung from it, like being able to devote my work time energy to my Coaching Practice
  • Taming some Gremlins on the dance floor
  • My beloved and supportive family and friends
  • An other cycle of seasons to witness and tend to the miraculous dynamics of my garden

So what are you grateful for this year?

  1. McCullough, M. E., Emmons, R. A., & Tsang, J. (2002). The grateful disposition: A conceptual and empirical topography. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 112-127.
  2. Wood, A. M., Joseph, S., & Maltby, J. (2008). Gratitude uniquely predicts satisfaction with life: Incremental validity above the domains and facets of the Five Factor Model. Personality and Individual Differences, 45, 49-54.
  3. Kashdan, T.B., Uswatte, G., & Julian, T. (2006). Gratitude and hedonic and eudaimonic well-being in Vietnam War veterans. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 44, 177-199.
  4. Wood, A. M., Joseph, S. & Maltby (2009). Gratitude predicts psychological well-being above the Big Five facets. Personality and Individual Differences, 45, 655-660.
  5. Wood, A. M., Joseph, S., & Linley, P. A. (2007). Coping style as a psychological resource of grateful people. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 26, 1108 – 1125.
  6. Wood, A. M., Joseph, S., Lloyd, J., & Atkins, S. (2009). Gratitude influences sleep through the mechanism of pre-sleep cognitions. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 66, 43-48
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Statement of Value

Value statements are grounded in values and define how people want to behave in a family, a community, an organization or institution.  In an organization or business they are statements about how the organization will value customers, partners, suppliers etc., and the internal community. Personal value statements articulate how you want to be in your life. Value statements describe actions that are the living enactment of the fundamental values held you. They are the foundation of your personal brand, what makes you uniquely you. Creating a value statement helps to an answer  the questions: “Why am I here?”  and “What I am bringing to the proverbial table?”.

To create your personal value statement, use the following template and complete it with your most sacred values.

I bring value to_______________________________(my family, my community, and/or my business) by placing a high value on _______________________________,________________________________ and ____________________________________.

Some of my clients carry their value statements with them, literally, on a slip of paper in their wallets. Others post their value statements in a place where they will see it daily, say on their bathroom mirror, or in the office. When it comes time to make decisions, especially the difficult ones, they turn to these statements to help keep grounded in what is best and true for them. They live and act to as their fully authentic selves. They prioritize tasks, make choices and take action inline with their personal brass tack.  They get more of what they want, because that is where they focus their efforts and attention.

Interestingly, because of all the time and attention they have paid to clarifying and acting through their values my clients are often say they feel less stressed, even in the midst of chaos. They respect their own values are able to hold enough perspective to respect the varying values of others.  You may also find that you are more easily able to manage stress by:

  1. Hold realistic expectations and be gentle with yourself and others. Things often push our buttons or upset use not because they are inherently stressful, but because its not what we expected or wanted.
  2. To employ the “Power of A Positive No”. That is “Yes without No is appeasement, whereas No without Yes is war (The Power of a Positive No, William Ury)”. A positive no, marries the two, so that you stand up for yourself and what you need without destroying important relationships and valuable agreements.  Respectfully expresses your interests + Respectfully asserts your power and Extend a respectful invitation to come to an agreement that is a win-win.
  3. Reframe. Get a different perspective or change the way you are looking at something, in order to feel better about a situation. There are many ways to interpret a situation.

Putting Your Values to Work … For You in 3 Steps

Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” – Japanese proverb

By now, if you have done the values clarification exercise, you are crystal clear about your most sacredly held values. Those three values without which you can’t live well; your personal brass tacks. You are more self-aware, are better positioned to prioritize tasks, make choices inline with your ethics and live as your fully authentic self. The deep self-awareness that comes from values clarification, provides an opportunity to step back and see what story you are telling through your life. That is, to understand how people perceive you, how you perceive yourself and how you would like to be perceived. You have the opportunity to identify the personal qualities that you would like to enhance and which you would like to change.

I bet you are already more mindful of your decisions and actions. Now let’s keep your momentum going so you get results from your efforts. There is an adage “You get more of what you look for…” You start thinking about red cars and suddenly there are red cars all over the road, or if you live in a place like I do, you start thinking about deer and suddenly they are left and right on the road. So how to you get the “red car” you want?

Here’s an exercise for you to make decisions about exactly what actions you can and are willing to take to put your values to work for you. Print out the table below as model and create a blank three column for you to use.

  1. Go back to your list of three most important Values.  Write these in the left hand column of the table.
  2. Then take a few minutes to reflect on the following questions to fill in the middle column: Where are these values showing up in your life? How are they showing up? Are you finding them frequently enough? Are you satisfied with how frequently these are showing up in your life?  What do you want more of?
  3. Finally, how will you increase the ways in which and/or strength with which your most important values are expressed in your life?  Write your response in the right hand column.
Value Expression Actions
Example: Making a difference Creating an environment where all are welcomeGet more corporate clients so that I can offer more pro-bono services Community Garden committee Create a low risk corporate program

On a scale of 1 (lowest) – 10 (highest) how committed are you to taking the actions you have listed?

On a scale of 1 (lowest) – 10 (highest) how confident are you to taking the actions you have listed?

If you answered less than a 7 to either of these questions, take a bit more time to consider what revisions you can make to move up the scale to at least a 7, and then get out there and put your values in action and make them work for you.

Four Steps To Get Clear About Your Values

Since every man is obliged to promote happiness and virtue, he should be careful not to mislead unwary minds, by appearing to set too high a value upon things by which no real excellence is conferred.” Samuel Johnson

To help you get clear, get into action, to achieve your values and to be able to live in a state of happy consciousness grounded in your values, here is a values clarification exercise. Below is a list of common personal values. Steps you can take to get clear about your values follow this list. The list of values presented here is not an exhaustive list; you may find that there are some values important to you that are missing, please feel free to add those to list. I would love to know what those are, please send me an email at inmotion (dot) danahar (at) yahoo (dot) com and let naming those values.

Values
Accomplishments/ResultsAchievementAdventure

Aesthetics/Beauty

Altruism

Authenticity

Autonomy

Cleanliness

Clarity

Commitment

Community

Compassion

Competence

Competition

Connection/Bonding

Creativity

Decisiveness

Discovery

Discipline

Ease

Emotional Health

Environment

Equality

Excellence

Fairness

Family

Fitness

Flair

Freedom/Independence

Fun

GoodnessGratitudeHard work

Harmony

Happiness

Health/Well-being

Honesty

Honor

Humor

Integrity

Intimacy

Joy

Justice

Leadership

Loyalty

Love

Making a difference

Mastery/Excellence

Meaning

Merit

Moving things forward

Non-violence

Openness

Orderliness/Accuracy

Patience

Partnership

Passion

Persistence

Personal Growth

Philanthropy

Problem SolvingPowerPrivacy/Solitude

Quality of work

Resourcefulness

Recognition/Acknowledgement

Religion/Spirituality

Respect

Risk taking

Romance

Safety

Security

Self Expression

Self Reliance

Self Sacrifice

Sensuality

Service/Contribution

Stability

Strength

Success

Teamwork

Timeliness

Tolerance

Tradition

Tranquility

Trust

Unity

Vitality

Wealth/Financial freedom

Wisdom

Other: Other: Other:

Four steps to get clear about your values.

  1. Print off, or copy the above list of values. Circle the ten most important to you.
  2. List your top 10 values separate piece of paper or page.
  3. Circle your top five values
  4. Highlight the three values that speak most loudly to you. These are your most deeply held values the ones you just can’t live well and in harmony without. These reflect the core of who you are and what you want in your life.

Now that you are crystal clear about your values here are some questions to consider. Where are these values showing up in your life? How are they showing up? Are you finding them frequently enough? Are you satisfied with how frequently these are showing up in your life? What do you want more of?

In the next part of this series we will explore how you can begin to really make your values work for you. To actively mindfully use them as a resource to make decisions and invite more what you into your life and perhaps decrease the amount of what you don’t want in your life.

I invite you to tell me how this Values clarification exercise worked for you. What did you learn? Have you used other Values clarification exercise?

The Value of Values Clarification

Happiness is a state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievements of one’s Values. – Ayn Rand

This statement by Ms. Rand is at first strikingly simple,  “Duh, of course that makes sense, I am most happy when, what is important to me is front and center.” Upon further reflection the statement is suggesting first, you must become mindful of your values, that is to be in a state of clear focused awareness of what they absolutely are, not what you assume they are. Then you can take action to achieve your values, or in other words live your life in accordance with them by making decisions and taking action grounded in them.

Now it seems counter intuitive to suggest that we assume we know what are most our most sacred values. What do you mean I am assuming to know what are my values? But truthfully, how often do you step back reflect and narrow down all the qualities you appreciate and hold in esteem to your most sacred values. Yours personally. Not your family’s values. Not your profession’s values.  No one else’s values.

That is not to say there is no overlap between your most sacred values and those of your family, your profession, your culture or any other number of sources. There likely is overlap and for good reason. We inherit values from our families. We adopt those of the groups we belong to, where we live, where we work, go to school, and play. Because groups are made up of individuals there is an inherent diversity with in the collective group. That is rich. The diversity you bring to your family, work, and other aspects of your life should be celebrated and honored.

Investing time and energy to clarify what are your most important, most sacred values your core values is worth it. There are multiple benefits to be had:

  • You make decisions guided by your most important values
  • You know where you stand and what you won’t sit for – your bottom line
  • Your credibility is impacted, because your know what you want and how you want to behave and act accordingly
  • Making hard decisions is easier, such as when conflicting opportunities arise
  • You bring integrity to everything you do
  • You tap into your personal wellspring of energy- what keeps you going when the tough times come along
  • You sense of security, self-confidence and your self-identity are reinforced and grow stronger
  • You have a solid, stable interior core allowing you to navigate and indeed thrive in the midst of chaos such as the past 16 plus months have brought

If you neglect to examine the congruence of your actions with your values, your actions may be misguided by old assumptions that no longer hold true for you, or immediate concerns and instant gratification rather than your values.

Tomorrow I will share a values clarification exercise

Values: Personal Brass Tacks

A key to knowing yourself is being crystal clear about what is absolutely fundamental to you. What drives you personally and professionally? What underscores how you choose to live and be in this world? An unclouded picture of your personal beliefs, principles, YOUR values positions you to fully articulate and illustrate your preferred future. Without that clarity this is darn near impossible to do.

Think of values as your personal brass tacks, what you won’t compromise. It is painful when we do experience life in conflict with our values. Values are  compass points to help you get clear, get into action that is on course come smooth sailing or rough waters, to get results which and get a better life. A fundamentally gratifying life in all its guises- not a mindlessly “blissful” life devoid of worry, stress or hardship. People who live the “good life” in a fundamental way, live with happiness grounded in a deep-rooted sense of harmony and flow with their values and deploy their strengths to help realise their Values. This sense of happiness a profound satisfaction and contentment is reflected in how they live their daily lives regardless of the environment you are experiencing. I know all this to be true from my personal experiences as well as my work with clients in clarifying values and taking action according to them. If you have been reading this blog for a while you know that I have referenced values in multiple postings over the past several months.

Ayn Rand is not some I generally quote however, she has one of the finest statements on values and happiness I have encountered: Happiness is a state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievements of one’s Values.

But what exactly is a Value? What does the word mean? Being a bit of a logophile (someone who loves words) I headed to the dictionary- well several really. Here’s what I found: it can be a verb or a noun and takes on many shades of meaning dependent on the context in which the word is used. The word value in general connotes “worth” and implies there is an intrinsic excellence or desirability to have it. Values are the qualities, characteristics and trains you consider worthwhile. They are your deeply held driving forces. Your personal brass tacks, when you get right down to it, what matters post to you and how you choose to live and by in this world personally and professionally.

Attention to your values affords you great strength and serves as a powerful bottomless resource personally and professionally. You become more self-aware, prioritize tasks, make choices inline with your ethics and live as your fully authentic self. The deep self-awareness that comes from values clarification, provides an opportunity to step back and see what story you are telling through your life. That is, to understand how people perceive you, how you perceive yourself and how you would like to be perceived. You create the opportunity to identify the personal qualities that you would like to enhance and which you would like to change.

Values influence your choices, but your choices also influence your values over time.  At certain junctions and times in life some of your values take on a greater sense of urgency or some may drift away and while other may take their place. There are however, likely some absolute core values you hold which do not ebb and flow over time. At a recent Values Clarification workshop I hosted  one of the participants remarked that before becoming a parent orderliness was tremendously important in his home, his office, all aspects of his life, but now, reflecting on impact of parenting orderliness is still important but adventure is also deeply important, “Adventure is generally messy, literally and figuratively, a bit more mess in my life is good. My desk is still neat, I still know where all the bills are and when they need to be paid, but not everything has by perfectly aligned. My kids have taught me that.”  If you neglect to examine the congruence of your actions with your values, your actions may be misguided by old assumptions that no longer hold true for you, or immediate concerns and instant gratification rather than your values.  And that as we have learned over the past couple years is not a path to long term success, stability or credibility. It is just no way to live.

Because Values are foundational, I am beginning a short series focusing on this topic. Over the next month or so we’ll explore to clarify your values and be mindful of them as a resource in all aspects of your life, personal and professional.  I look forward to explore this topic with you and invite your comments to enrich this exploration.