Gratitude

gratitude

I’ve thought a lot about gratitude recently.

Every day, after I finish writing my Morning Pages, I spend about five minutes writing in my daily journal. The first prompt is about gratitude, requiring me to write three things I’m grateful for. There are countless articles about the benefits of starting every day with gratitude, so incorporating it into my morning routine was a no-brainer.

Otsukaresama

Yesterday started with a double bonus. After I finished writing in my journal, the theme for my Daily Calm meditation was Otsukaresama, which is a Japanese phrase used throughout the work day to say “Good job” or “Thank you for your work”.

I’ve had gratitude on my mind because I’ve been living my dream at work for the past nine months, and I’m grateful to so many people for their role in helping make that happen. The challenge is in making sure every one of them knows how grateful I am. Although I seize every opportunity to express my gratitude, I know I could do better. That’s something I’m working on this year.

Sure, starting every day by writing down three things you’re grateful for is a healthy practice. But it’s not enough. You need to carry your gratitude beyond your private thoughts and writing. Thank the people who’ve helped you or who’ve had an impact on your life. Tell your spouse how much you appreciate them.

That’s one thing I don’t do often enough, and I know she reads this blog, so now I have no excuse!

What do you do to practice gratitude? Could you do more?

Leave a comment and let’s chat about it. Or hit me up on Twitter.

Writing Every Day

writing

One hundred days ago, while in the process of training myself to get up earlier in the morning, I started writing every day. That was the first day I got up early enough to scribble out two handwritten pages.

Why writing? Why two handwritten pages? Simple. I was following the Morning Pages process Julia Cameron introduced in her book The Artist’s Way. Three pages are what Cameron recommends, but the first couple of days I only wrote two because my hand cramped up the entire time.

A conversation at work with the same guy who calls me “suspiciously passionate” inspired this practice. He’s the creative type who writes in a journal every morning, claiming it clears his mind and helps him discover his creativity.

Those seemed like good reasons to give journaling a try, so I did a little research. In that process, I stumbled on a blog post from Tim Ferriss titled What My Morning Journal Looks Like. This quote stuck with me because it articulates exactly what I was hoping to accomplish by journaling:

“Morning pages don’t need to solve your problems. They simply need to get them out of your head, where they’ll otherwise bounce around all day like a bullet ricocheting inside your skull.”

One of the biggest reasons I started getting up at 4:30 every morning was to clear my mind before diving into the day. I was already meditating ten minutes every day, which was helpful, but I needed more. Twenty minutes of daily writing sounded promising, so I decided to give it a try.

The Benefits of Daily Writing

One hundred days later, I’ve written about 50,000 words on 200 pages, and the benefits are clear. My daily writing practice not only helps center and clear my mind, but it also helps silence my inner critic, makes me less anxious and helps me generate ideas, which brings me to the real point of this post.

In her Journal of Solitude, May Sarton said:

“I have written every poem, every novel, for the same purpose—to find out what I think, to know where I stand.”

After writing six posts in my first two weeks back to blogging, I started thinking about why I wanted to go beyond the intimacy of Morning Pages and write a public-facing blog. Writing for myself every day is helpful, but only for me. As I looked back at some of my morning writing, I realized I have a story to tell that could help others. I have a story to tell that could help you.

So, now I write 750 words every morning, and sometimes I turn a few of those words into a blog post. The private stuff stays private, but to figure out what I really think, and to know where I really stand, I need to declare it to the world. I need to take a stand and trust that talking about my life will make a difference in yours.

I hope it’s working. Thank you for reading.

Suspiciously Passionate

suspiciously passionate

A respected colleague referred to me as “suspiciously passionate” yesterday. I’m not sure if it was a compliment, an inside joke or something else. I chose to take it as a compliment.

I’m proud of the passion I bring to my work, especially when others notice. While presenting to a group of people from our new Digital Transformation Office yesterday, one person started her question by stating, “You’re very passionate about this project.” I even got a tweet about it from one of my favorite corporate leaders last night:

Or how about these recent tweets from some of my favorite people at American Family?

Passion is my Brand

Personal branding is a popular topic. When I started actively improving my life, I decided to make passion my brand at work. Is there really any other choice? The day I’m not passionate about what I’m doing is the day I’ll know it’s time to move on to something else.

We spend almost half our waking hours at work. I believe we should make that time matter or find something else that’s a better match. Life is too short to slave away at something that leaves you feeling apathetic and indifferent at the end of the day.

Now, about that colleague who described me as suspiciously passionate. At first, I wondered why my passion made him suspicious. But then I realized it’s a good thing. I want everyone to be suspicious about my passion. I want them to wonder how I do it. Why I do it? What drives me?

The brave ones will ask me. That’s just the opportunity I need to pass some of it along, because…

Passion is Contagious

Spread it.

Photo by Clark Tibbs

Imitation

imitation

I love this quote about imitation from Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist:

“In the beginning, we learn by pretending to be our heroes.”

I felt a little stuck when I decided to restart this blog. I knew I wanted to share my thoughts with the world but didn’t know exactly how. Should I use WordPress or Medium or LinkedIn? What should I write about? Lots of questions.

I knew I really liked Garth Beyer’s blog, Stay Positive. He posts every day. His posts are short, sweet, to the point, and almost always inspire me. It’s obvious he’s not a slave to search engine optimization, which surely helps him hit the publish button every day.

His blog reminds me of Seth Godin’s, who also posts every day, doesn’t pay attention to SEO, and keeps most of his posts short and sweet. Seth takes his simplicity even further, though, rarely incorporating an image into his posts and disabling comments. He has something to say and says it without any regard for the metrics, trusting his words will resonate with someone.

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

So, to get started, I decided to steal from Garth. You may notice my blog uses the same theme as his. I liked the look of his blog and spent hours trying to find a theme with a similar layout. I didn’t like anything I found and decided I’d just use the same one. Why not?

He also pulls all the images for his posts from Unsplash. I like his images, so I’m doing the same.

It’s not enough, however, to steal the look of Garth’s blog. As Austin Kleon said:

“Don’t just steal the style, steal the thinking behind the style. You don’t want to look like your heroes, you want to see like your heroes.”

I need to get better at imitating Garth’s efficiency with words. I like words. Lots of them. And my SEO plugin keeps telling me my posts should have over 300 words. And an image. Ugh.

Maybe I should just disable the plugin.

But how will people find my blog if it isn’t optimized for the search engines?

You see? I’m not very good at this imitation thing. Yet.

Photo by Štefan Štefančík

Accidental Inspiration

 

inspiration

I just got the nicest note from a colleague regarding my post about Loyalty. He said: “You always tend to inspire me to take more action and to improve my self-discipline.” What a great way to start my day, knowing I was an inspiration for someone else.

I’ve heard this a few times during the last 18 months of making positive changes in my life.

When I spent a year losing 40 pounds, a few people told me I inspired them.

Then I spent eight weeks turning myself into a morning person who gets up at 4:30 a.m. and a few more people said I inspired them.

Then I decided to quit drinking alcohol 24 days ago and, you guessed it, more inspired people.

Inspiration for Others

Here’s the thing. I haven’t done any of these things to inspire anyone else. I’ve done all of them for me, and the inspiration is just a byproduct.

Don’t get me wrong. I love being an inspiration to others. Making positive changes is rewarding, and knowing you might inspire others to do the same adds even more motivation to succeed.

Most of the time, when I start working on a big change, I tell others about it so they can help hold me accountable.

Sometimes people just notice, like my colleague Stuart.

Work every day on being the best version of yourself. You might inspire someone else to follow your example.

Photo by Thought Catalog