Being grateful in the first world

I’m not American – you’d probably noticed that already – but I really like the idea of Thanksgiving. More accurately, it’s not the holiday per se I’m particularly keen on, it’s the act of thanksgiving.

I’m sure you’ve heard of first world problems – a frustration only experienced by those of us privileged enough to live in wealthy countries. You know the kind of the thing – ‘I’d love a glass of wine but I forgot to put the pinot grigio in the fridge earlier’ or ‘they didn’t make a pretty pattern on top of my cappuccino this morning’.

Yes, our lives are busy. Yes, we live in uncertain times. However, I’m pretty certain we all have something for which we are thankful. If you were to stop right now and think of three things you are really glad are part of your life, I bet you could do it. It’s often when things don’t happen that we realise how much we take them for granted – the morning when you jump in your car to drive to work and the battery’s dead is the morning that you realise how grateful you are for those days when the car does start first time. When I was in Morocco and every drop of water I drank had to be purified, I realised how grateful I am that I can just turn on the tap at home and drink clean water.

Practising gratitude helps us to notice the good stuff, the positive elements in our lives. This act of noticing can make us happier and more determined to create more positive conditions around us, whether that’s at work, at home or in our communities.

Some of my clients have expressed an interest to do just that – to notice the good, be grateful for it and to create more of it. Here are just three of the ways in which they’re doing that:

Give positive feedback

If a colleague does a great job, if you receive particularly helpful service in a shop, if your child does something unexpectedly kind, make sure you tell them. We all love being on the receiving end of praise – why not be generous with our appreciation?

Record it

At the end of each day, note down two or three things for which you’re grateful. Even on a tough day, there’s sure to be something.

Pass it on

See someone yawn and you’ll probably yawn yourself: yawns are pretty contagious! So is kindness. Letting the stressed-out person go ahead of you in the queue, helping a colleague stuff envelopes for the mailshot to make sure she hits her deadline, cooking dinner for a friend who’s had a long day – we can be grateful that we can make a difference to others. What seems like a small thing to us may be a big deal to them.

As they report back to me in our sessions, my clients tell me how not taking things for granted and showing gratitude is having a positive effect on both their work and home lives.

Today’s pebble for you to contemplate: How will you be grateful this week?

I can’t post on gratitude without thanking you for reading. Whether you comment, whether you email me, whether you want to work with me as your coach, whether you read every post or just one now and then, I’m very grateful that you’re reading this today.



Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching. 

If you’d like to make progress in your work and life, why not email me to see how we could work together?

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4 Responses to Being grateful in the first world

  1. Zewen Alford says:

    A great post! A grateful person makes a happy person.

  2. abby says:

    I’m grateful for your coaching in my time at Future Michelle, for Phil Churchill’s fantastic coaching, support and advice over the past few years, and for my current mentor Sallee – all of you have helped me get to being an editor much quicker than if I’d tried to figure it all out on my own.

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