This book has become the single most important reading for my personal and entrepreneurial journey and--spoiler alert--it is all about GRATITUDE. More precisely, it is all about the practice of gratitude.
I read The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living for the first time in 2010. Now, a decade later, I’ve reread it at least once each year--and even more often since starting Percent Pledge in December 2017. But this book I, like many, viewed gratitude as a noun. A feeling? Surely. But a thing. It was through this book that I came to understand gratitude as a verb, an action, a practice.
The power of gratitude to shape perspective
Practicing gratitude has improved my journey by enabling me to form--and maintain--a positive perspective.
When Percent Pledge was a month old and we only had 100 users, practicing gratitude helped me view our user count as a success--and avoid comparisons to “B2C success stories” like Facebook.
Gratitude similarly helped me when Percent Pledge pivoted from B2C to B2B. Our model and technology created this simple and transparent “subscription for giving” for millennials and our hypothesis was that B2B would fast-track distribution and create a new revenue stream.
We interviewed 50+ C-Suite, HR, and People leaders, learned that a majority of companies needed philanthropy to engage and retain today's socially-conscious talent but couldn't manage, measure or market giving programs internally, and made the pivot. And when we only signed 10 companies after 5 months post-pivot, practicing gratitude helped again. It helped me view those first 10 company partners as what they were--a success and culmination of our team’s hard work.
Practicing gratitude enables you to shape--and maintain--a positive perspective about what you have versus what you lack.
The power of gratitude to shape perspective without dampening ambition
Being able to shape perspective would have been enough, but the bigger reason why gratitude has transformed my life is that through my practice I have learned how to shape perspective without inviting complacency or dampening ambition.
I still have fear of failure--and competition--that I never want to lose sight of. It provides useful fuel, just like celebrating progressive successes does. But by practicing gratitude, I can have it both ways.
That combination, feeling both full and hungry at the same time, is the true power of gratitude. For entrepreneurs, that’s a scary combination. Also now, for everyone, it's a useful combination to appreciate your healthy, safety, and sanity while maintaining a calm focus on the tough road ahead.
How easy it is to practice gratitude
If you’ve gotten this far, you may be interested in starting your own gratitude practice. I’d suggest beginning here: Start tomorrow by writing down 5 things you are grateful for.
This is an exercise taken from The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living, and it takes 2 minutes to complete. Build a habit by completing it every day to flex your gratitude muscles. It may sound simple, but soon enough you’ll find you’re on the road to improving your happiness and discovering a new and improved normal.