For this month’s Chicory Wealth newsletter, I want to talk about GRATITUDE and how that naturally leads to HOPE. Gratitude is a pretty common theme for the week before Thanksgiving, but notice that I wrote these two words in all caps. I’m not talking about the once-a-holiday kind of gratitude that comes when all the cousins make it to Granny’s for dinner or the grocery store doesn’t run out of miniature marshmallows, though being grateful for these moments in life is certainly appropriate.
What I’m talking about is a powerful practice that can serve us in frightening and difficult times. As I write this, I can see and smell the orange smoky glow from one of the nearby California wildfires that has ravaged several areas of this state over the past seven years of drought. While on the other side of the country, communities are still reeling from the opposite problem: hurricane winds and flooding. These environmental disasters are increasing due to manmade global warming, with no change in sight. Our world’s financial picture can also seem frightening at times – currently on a bit of an upswing but fluctuating precariously in the winds of global tumult. And I don’t have to describe to anyone the volatility and divisiveness of our current political landscape.
How do we navigate these times without giving into fear and despair? That’s where the “practice” comes in. Living in GRATITUDE is not an easy or superficial task, like pasting a fake smile on your face and pretending everything is fine. And it’s not just a feeling that appears or disappears all on its own. GRATITUDE is a muscle that can be strengthened and developed just like any other muscle – through practice.
How do we practice? Focus on GRATITUDE every day. Maybe it’s a daily gratitude journal or a short meditation on what you’re grateful for in the morning or right before you go to sleep. Maybe it’s creating a gratitude budget (figuring out what’s “enough”), spending time in nature, or volunteering. Whatever your practice, make an effort to turn toward GRATITUDE even when it doesn’t come naturally. It’s simple to feel grateful when everything is going well. It’s harder when life throws its inevitable curveballs and losses. If you have been practicing, it becomes easier to find the GRATITUDE in the dark times too.
One other suggestion I have for practicing GRATITUDE is this: Find the people who are doing good in the world and stick with them. Often in difficult moments, our natural human inclination is to isolate into despair, which only feeds on itself. Instead, when we can turn our focus to people and groups making headway toward positive change, we add our energy to the momentum. And let me tell you – there are SO MANY of these people out there! I just returned from an incredibly energizing conference with the Women Donors Network and feel greatly renewed. I also know many of you are working diligently to make the world a better place.
Why bother with all this? Because GRATITUDE naturally leads to HOPE. And without HOPE in our collective future, we are surely lost.
This Thanksgiving, I am feeling immense GRATITUDE: for my family and my health; for the natural world surrounding us; for our democracy – warts and all; and especially for you – the people I interact with every day through Chicory Wealth – you, who are doing such powerful and important work in the world. I am so grateful for that, and it gives me tremendous HOPE.
photo above by Zac Durant on Unsplash