When Tim Sander’s speaks to a room of people, he evokes the preachers of the southern Baptist church. That might in part be due to the slight southern drawl he adopted from his childhood home of Texas and the speaking cadence he may have heard in those churches, but his message is also that often found in Sunday morning homilies.
I first heard Tim speak at a SOBCon event – those wonderful 3-day conferences that I like to call “summer camp for the brain.” Unlike many conferences, in SOBCon events, you work at various “Mastermind” exercises with your tablemates – among whom may be some of the speakers themselves.
Even though I acquired Tim’s book Today We Are Rich at a conference earlier in the year, I only just got to reading it. I’m not usually a fan of inspirational literature (the book is subtitled “Harnessing the Power of Total Confidence) – it too often smacks of feel-good platitudes – but at the same time, if wisdom is to be found, I’ll stand in line.
And find it, I did. In fact, I felt like I got a gentle smack in the face. One of Tim’s pieces of advice is to spend your first waking moments thinking about what and to whom you feel grateful from the previous day. Overall, I’d say I feel a general feeling of gratitude in my life – but it’s not a focus. And Tim, here, is saying it should be a focus. In trying it out, I really do think it has a tremendous power.
It has power, because like a lot of attitudes we hold, we’re often conditioned by what we choose to focus upon. In a talk I gave at Montreal140, and later wrote about on Successful Blogs I talked about the notion that we can choose to focus on what we don’t like as opposed to what we love. In practicing gratitude, we refocus. I have a sneaking suspicion that people prefer to be around others that feel good about their lives and appreciate the contributions of others.
Ever since I had the pleasure of spending a few vacations in Italy, I’ve developed an occasional joy in perusing Italian real estate web sites and indulging in a bit of fantasy. Yesterday, I started a Pinterest board of some of the more fantastic dream homes
I’m reminded of that central tenet of Buddhism, that unhappiness and suffering come from desire.
Will all this pinning of dream kitchens, clothes, and Italian villas lead to suffering? Could it be that we’re doing the opposite of what Tim Sander’s suggests – and that instead of focusing on what we we’re grateful for, we’re indulging in fantasies of distant desires?
I think it can. But I also think that to spend time fantasizing about that dream home, vacation, kitchen, or whatever it is you’re inclined to celebrate, can also be about your aspirations. It can be about figuring out developing your best self. I know, for instance, that I wouldn’t have the wherewithal to even attend to the maintenance of one of those frescoed crumbling villas – but I also know that I like the feeling of a certain type of place. I’d like to bring that feeling into my everyday life.
There’s a fine line between aspiration, and practicing gratitude for what is already around you. To that end, I’d like to propose that for every pin you make that is about what you desire, create another for what you feel grateful. I’m going to give it a whirl – and if you do, I’d love to hear from you.
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