Chris Lowney, in his book “Heroic Living” shares the importance of gratitude and optimism in catapulting us forward in life. Here, Matt Palmer shares an excerpt from the chapter entitled, “Let Gratitude and Optimism Move You Forward.”
“Nikki Giovanni reminds us in a poem of hers that “we are better than we think and not quite what we want to be.” We can invigorate our approach to life by pondering both parts of this axiom.
The knowledge that we are better than we think we are ought to spark not arrogance, but humble gratitude. As we race through our lives to catch the next train or squeeze in one more errand or project, we are to pause occasionally, look around, and be awestruck by this marvelous world we are racing through.
The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh exhorts us to remind ourselves daily of the simple but profound blessing that we are alive in this marvelous world: “Every morning when we wake up we have 24 brand new hours to live. What a precious gift!”
And Ignatius of Loyola reminds us that we ourselves are one of the world’s greatest marvels. He writes, “look at the world with gratitude and awe but look at yourself with the very same attitude.” In one spiritual exercise, he counsels us, “be grateful for your talents and gifts because they are the raw material out of which we can see and shape our life’s purpose and be grateful because gratitude is what energizes and motivates us to pursue that great purpose.”
Lowney continues, “Gratitude ushers in the optimism that we are capable of being more and better than we are today. True, we are not quite what we want to be, but we can get there. He goes on to share that Giovanni delivered the above referenced poem some 24 hours after a gunman had slain more than 30 students and staff at her university campus in one of the most horrific massacres of its kind.
All of us have been beaten down, disappointed or hurt by others and we stumble and fail as well through our own poor choices. But the optimistic are convinced that there exists grace, mercy and second chances and that we can and should stand up again and walk forward. Optimism also reminds us that when we don’t have the strength to stand up and walk on our own there are others around us willing to reach out and steady us.
We every day visionaries are capable of leading ourselves and our society forward no matter that we feel too human, too fragile, too distracted, too greedy and too everything else for the task. Let’s accept the privilege and burden of leading ourselves and those around us, whatever our livelihoods and however modest our circumstances.
With a clear purpose and the courage of our convictions, we can embrace that great purpose, make good choices and get great things done.”
Chris’s words above certainly resonate for me and I’m sure for many of us. Allow them to sink into your mind and heart this weekend and together let’s continue the journey towards purposeful living. It’s the key to a great life.
Written by Matt Palmer, Co-Founder and Chairman