I recently finished reading The Way of Gratitude by Galen Guengerich. Long ago, in grad school, my husband and I were neighbors with Galen, so we found the story of his life’s journey from a conservative Mennonite childhood to ministry in the liberal Unitarian Universalist church to be particularly engaging.
More broadly, though, reading this lovely little book slowly over a period of weeks has meant that I’ve had gratitude on my mind.
In a year of global pandemic, it’s much easier to stay focused on all the things we’re NOT grateful for: illness, suffering, and death; food insecurity, unemployment, and economic woes; isolation, loneliness, and fear.
That makes gratitude all the more important this year.
When I think of gratitude in the professional world, I think of mentoring I’ve been given, opportunities I’ve been offered, and trust that’s been placed in me. But I also think of lessons I’ve learned from people I’ve worked with over the years.
Some of these lessons are negative: what kind of boss NOT to be; why NOT to work 24/7; how NOT to run a meeting. The lessons we learn from negative experiences can be powerful and long-lasting. But it’s dangerous to rely too strongly on these types of lessons because we don’t always draw the right conclusions from negative examples.
So, when it comes to gratitude, I prefer to focus on the positive lessons. For instance:
Everyone we spend time with has a lesson for us – spoken or unspoken. Thus, for me, there have been many other people and many other lessons.
But for today, I’m especially grateful for the people above – and for the gift of having been in their presence.