• Ashley Ward

What Brings You Joy?

Gratitude practice…it’s all the rage these days. You can hardly open your email, social media or news sources without seeing a reference to the science-based evidence on the power of having a daily gratitude practice. Confession time… I can’t say it’s a habit for me. I start and stop with recording a list of things for which I’m grateful. I have never been one to journal, despite the benefits. I envy people who have written records containing their precious memories and reflections. Often, I encourage my coaching clients to journal or develop a positivity practice. It’s time for me to do as I say so I’m declaring that I will make gratitude a daily practice starting today.

Thankfully, I have a firm foundation on which to build this habit. My self-talk is embedded with gratitude and it’s one of my top values. I remind myself of my blessings and look for the positives in the midst of the chaos and challenges that come my way. Am I a Polly Anna? Heck no. Do I have my days and seasons of negativity and pessimism? Absolutely! I also have a well-tuned reset barometer and key people in my life who slap me awake when needed - another reason to be thankful.

The world is filled with sadness, sickness, anger, selfishness and craziness. It’s also filled with love, kindness, compassion, understanding and joy. It surrounds you if you seek it. It’s returned when you give it. It embraces you when you need it.

I had the good fortune to be surrounded by several community leaders this past week and spent time in the evenings with dear friends. I heard heartbreaking stories. People talked of everyday struggles and frustrations. Some I know are walking through incredible challenges. Others have amazing opportunities ahead and are living their dreams. We start every leadership group meeting with a “check in.” It’s a way to start the discussion and share what’s on one’s mind, as well as build relationships and get to know one another better. The question was simple – what are you grateful for, specifically? The one caveat is that people could not give a generic answer like “family” or “health.” The research is clear that it’s most effective in developing a grateful mindset and habitualizing positive thinking, to be specific and clear on what exactly you appreciate and recognize as a gift in your life. The responses I heard all week filled my bucket and made my heart sing. People are acutely aware of all the good in their lives. They are grateful.

For my daily three journal entries I wrote this...

  1. I got an aisle seat on my Southwest flight!

  2. I came home to warm weather and sunshine.

  3. We got a 6-week-old beagle puppy (yes, this is him in the photo). Pure JOY!

I invite you to reflect on the following...

  1. What are you grateful for specifically? Consider what this is for you professionally and personally…

  2. Who in your life helps hold you accountable for staying focused on the positives?

  3. Who in your life has (had) an attitude of gratitude and how have they influenced you?

  4. What is your gratitude practice? What do you want it to be?

  5. What are you looking forward to in 2020?

  6. What do you most appreciate about this past year?

  7. What dose of positivity can you spread today?