• Teresa Carey

A Fresh Look at Gratitude

“… I’m a man with a one-track mind, so much to do in one lifetime (people do you hear me)… I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, I want it now…“ Queen – Lyrics from “I Want it All”


Around this time each year, most companies go through the rigor of budgeting and planning for the coming fiscal period. Typically, the approach is incremental - looking at what was spent historically in each line item as a basis for the coming year’s adjustment. On occasion, and especially coming out of 2020, organizations might wipe the slate clean and start from ground zero. This can take us to a healthy and clear determination of, 1- “What do we really need?”; and 2- “How do we account for it?”


What if we approached the spirit of gratitude the same way? Instead of basing our spirit of thankfulness on building upon what we already have – the next position, the newer house, the latest tech toy - what if, instead, we stepped back and took a zero-based gratitude perspective? If we didn’t get one more thing in life, or, if we had to start over from ground zero, what would we be grateful for?


Here’s my start at a macro level:

  • Family and Friends– the love of those I cherish and our opportunity to dream and have adventures together.

  • Health – to wake each day with full movement and the ability to fully perform physically and mentally.

  • Freedom to Choose – my career, my religion and how I live my life.

At a gathering a few years ago, I met someone who shared her family’s story with me. She described how the spark from the solder during their new copper gutter installation landed in the attic of the home they were renovating. Within a few hours this one tiny spark burned their dream home to the ground. As I teared up and empathized with her about what I perceived as unarguably tragic, she gently placed her hand on my arm and locked eyes with me. “Losing everything we owned was one of the most freeing things I have ever experienced. I now only focus on what’s important.”


This year in particular, as we approach Thanksgiving and the holiday season, I challenge us all to redefine gratitude. By using a zero-based approach, it might just change the way we view what truly matters. What could the far-reaching positive impact be on those we are blessed do life with and lead?


“In ordinary life, we hardly realize that we received a great deal more than we give, and that it is only within gratitude, that life becomes rich.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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