He’s been at a conference there and I tagged along for the ride. It’s a thing he’s had a leadership role in every year for the last five – always in different cities around the world. So I’ve come to know some of the other people who attend and, while I don’t go to all of the sessions myself, I do turn up to the social events and the whole thing is a lot of fun.
Most days, other than the weekend, I did some kind of work. So, over the week, I’ve had a few coaching calls, and done some business development. Met up with my coaching mastermind group for a couple of hours online too.
But I had space and time, and so a couple of mornings I took advantage and wandered into town. It was my first visit to the city and I have to say I loved the atmosphere of the place, so any excuse really! And I found a great little cafe that did the most amazing soya lattes and was wonderful just to hang out in.
I was sitting there one day, looking out at the little cobbled streets with people cycling past on bikes, when this wave of gratitude crashed over me. This year alone I’ve spent ten weeks traveling, two of which have been holiday. And somehow I’ve managed to keep the business ticking over alongside.
“How lucky am I?” I found myself asking.
Some years ago I had a sense that I wanted to create things this way. To build in the flexibility to visit different places round the world while still being able to work. And bit by bit it has become so.
And I sat there just savoring a sense of how rich my life is and how blessed I feel.
Which in turn got me thinking about gratitude.
So, last week I was talking about integrity and how it’s a missing quality of our time. But, you know, I think gratitude belongs in the same bucket.
Heck, it was Thanksgiving Day in the US yesterday and, I don’t know about you, but I saw more evidence of consumerism in my email stream than I did about heartfelt thankfulness.
What has become of that built-in moment to pause and reflect on what’s good?
And it’s an interesting one. Some folks – like the positive psychologists – say that gratitude is something you can learn like a skill. Look at any of the popular happiness books and you’ll find lots of tools to get you practicing. Keeping a gratitude diary is a popular one.
But I wonder if that kind of thinking puts gratitude at the level of a technique, when actually I believe it’s available to us in every single moment. That morning in the coffee shop, I wasn’t using any gratitude tool to experience that wave of greatfulness. It just came.
Came because I was hanging out – physically and mentally – and had cleared the space for it.
In the coming weeks and months I’ll say more about creating a work and life that jives for you, about the business case for gratitude, and where gratitude really comes from. But for today I want to share this beautiful Tedx SF Talk from Louie Schwartzberg on the subject.