David J. Pollay, MAPP '06, is a co-founder of the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA). David has an Economics degree from Yale University and has held leadership positions at Yahoo!, MasterCard, Global Payments and AIESEC. He is an Executive Coach who specializes in business relationships. He is also an author and keynote speaker known for his best-selling books, The Law of the Garbage Truck (how to navigate negativity) and The 3 Promises (how to create personal fulfillment every day). David's articles are here. For permission to reprint David's articles, please contact him.
Think about a bridge crossing a river. It must have strong supporting foundations on both banks. Without the foundations securely anchored, the bridge will collapse; you cannot make the crossing.
And so it is with your bridge to your positive future. The stronger your foundation of gratitude, the greater the distance your bridge can take you in life. And the strength of your gratitude depends on your awareness of the support you have to achieve your best possible life.
Robert Solomon, the late philosophy professor and scholar at the University of Texas at Austin, discussed gratitude in an essay he contributed to The Psychology of Gratitude by Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough. Solomon wrote, “One can take one’s life and its advantages for granted, but how much better it is to acknowledge not only those advantages but one’s gratitude for them.”
Gratitude also likens the emotion of trust, wrote Solomon, “…it involves an admission of our vulnerability and our dependence on other people.” Gratitude helps us recognize the support that we have received on our path to achieve the life we have.
Gratitude provides you with the courage to pursue your ambition in life. Gratitude reminds you of everything that you have; what you remember strengthens your bridge to a positive future. And there are four key ways to reinforce your foundation of gratitude.
A Reminder of Your Key People
First, gratitude reminds you of all the key people in your life. Think of these individuals now. Who are the people who advise you? Who are the people who challenge you? Who are the people who set you straight when you veer off course? And who are the people who give you a hug when you need one? Be grateful for these people; strengthen your bridge.
A Reminder of Your Strengths
Second, gratitude reminds you of your strengths. Think of what comes naturally to you. What do you do well? What do you enjoy doing? What do others say you excel in? What are your gifts? Be grateful for what makes you unique; strengthen your bridge.
A Reminder of Your Achievements
Third, gratitude reminds you of what you have achieved. Think about what you have accomplished in your life. What goals have you met? What successes have you enjoyed? Be grateful for your achievements; strengthen your bridge.
A Reminder of the Wonders Around You
Finally, gratitude reminds you of the wonders around you: the warmth of the sun, the glow of the moon and stars, the current of a river, the ripples of a lake, the waves of an ocean, the comfort of a breeze, the colors of flowers, the majesty of tall trees, the utility of buildings, the speed of planes, and the power of trains. Be grateful for the miracles of nature and the wondrous products of man; strengthen your bridge.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian, pastor, and Nazi resister, wrote about gratitude in this way: “In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.” When you fill your life with gratitude, you will experience the feeling of abundance in your relationships, your strengths, your achievements, and everything that is miraculous and powerful around you.
Gratitude strengthens your bridge to your best possible life. Enjoy the crossing
Emmons, R. & McCullough, M. Eds. (2004). The Psychology of Gratitude (Series in Affective Science). Oxford University Press.
Perrine Bridge over the Snake River in Twin Falls courtesy of Alaskan dude