Last Sunday, my husband and I took our two kids and two of their friends on a long walk to a teeny theater where we saw (and participated in) a Family Improv show. As we took in the sunny Sunday in our neighborhood, with four kids who were beaming with the anticipation of being entertained—I had one of those moments where I realized—this is what it’s all about.
Their joy was contagious. I halted all of my hurrying and lingering worries about getting four slow moving children to a destination on time. Instead, I felt a warm calm come over me and I was grateful for every aspect of that moment.
I was grateful that I…
Was able to completely disconnect from my business to be with the people I love.
Could hear the kids’ laughter before the show even started.
Was watching them hold each other’s hands, knowing that they already have close friends that feel like family.
Live in a neighborhood where we can walk to a Family Improv show.
When I have these moments, my gut instinct is often to keep going, keep doing and continue with the busyness of my day. And yet, in the few years since I’ve restructured my life, created more space and awareness of what’s working and what’s not—I’ve begun to practice presence in these moments. I know that when I stop and truly take it in, I’m changed.
Here are three ways practicing gratitude has helped me create a life and career I savor:
1. It pulls me out of stress and negativity
When I feel the pressure of a stressful situation, where I may feel stuck or without control, I create some time for myself to either think about all the things I have or do something I’m thankful to be able to do. Going for a run or walk reminds me of my good health and that I have another day where it’s possible for me to do this powerful thing for my body and mind.
2. It gives me motivation to work through the tough bits
Even dream careers are not easy! There are moments when I’m struggling to do something I’ve never learned to do or nights my daughters cry if I have to be out in the evening. Those are times I choose to be grateful for a career where I’m constantly learning. I also think about having a partner who is warm and loving and quite accomplished at taking over parental duties when I’m not around. And about daughters who see that with hard work and belief, women can run their own businesses and become financially independent. It’s those things that pull me over the hurdle of the discomfort and tears.
3. It reminds me that I’m creating a life based on what’s important to me
My moment of gratitude when I feel I’m fulfilling on my vision is my victory lap. This is what it’s all for. This is what I’m creating. Taking the time to acknowledge it, celebrate it and truly feel it with every cell of my being is what reminds me—this is possible and I’m doing it.
Luckily, the show exceeded everyone’s expectations (which was tough to do). My 9-year-old went up on stage and channeled intense visions of hot lava and pink fluffy unicorns. And when the emcee asked for audience suggestions about something you’re thankful for, my 6-year-old raised her hand and called out, "My family!" My husband and I, on either end of four rapt children gave each other a smile and a telepathic high five. This is possible and we’re doing it.