Happiness? Put the “grr” in your attitude

“It is not happy people who are thankful; it is thankful people who are happy”

“The happiest people never did have everything. However they are thankful for everything they do have.”

We live in an age when everybody is trying to outdo one another by having the wackiest “bucket list”. It seems that Nirvana is reached when you finally complete “your 100 things to do before you die”.

I can appreciate this somewhat as a psychoanalyst friend of mine once diagnosed me, over dinner, as having the same disease as his wife: FoMo. Wikipedia describes “fear of missing out” as “a compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity for social interaction, a novel experience etc.”

There is definitely a tension between being thankful for one’s lot and striving for more. I just don’t think that they are mutually exclusive. I think one of the secrets is to verbalise thankfulness, not just think it.

A good few years ago I had a tough assignment which was to do a week’s work in the Caribbean. Somebody had to do it, so reluctantly I chose the short straw and went. One memorable moment was when I was actually working and was interviewing an aspiring senior leader. I asked him to describe his normal day, from dawn to dusk. “What is the first thing that you do in the morning?” With his unmistakable Jamaican accent he instantly replied, “I give t’anks.” That has stuck with me over the years and I have tried to copy it.

Genuine thanks – real appreciation – in close relationships, whether at work or home, is often the most important “reward” that we give or look for. I personally try my best, but still often don’t get it right and need to be reminded.

I have recently written a book – “Leaders’ Map” – and touched on this topic in one of the chapters.

“Many of us will have had a teacher when we were at school that inspired us. They may not have necessarily been the best educator, but they engaged with you as a young person and showed you possibilities and opportunities that perhaps you hadn’t seen before.

One particular youth leader had such a positive and profound influence on me when I was a teenager. He was a local doctor who gave up his spare time to run all sorts of events and activities. He had a significant impact on many people’s lives beyond his work in his surgery. Through example, giving of time and quiet advice he helped me “tack” through those important, formative years. He was probably unaware of it. A few years ago I wondered; had I really thanked him? So I wrote to John, who is now senior in years, to express my gratitude for what he had done for me. For those who are working with young people, never underestimate your potential to influence for good.

 Inspiration, like influenza, is caught not taught.”

 piglet-pooh-sketchSaying “thank you” is an important act, but gratitude is having a perspective of thankfulness. It is an attitude. To remind us to put the “Grr..” in our “attitude” I leave you with some thoughts from A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh: “Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”

John Greenway

“Leaders’ Map” was launch on January 23rd 2014 and is now available on Amazon Kindle


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