How is your attitude of gratitude?Sam Kimberle
This was the question I was asked recently by a friend, Sam. I’d been telling her, earlier, about rediscovering some old artwork from school.
Making money from your passion
Then we’d gone on to talk about making money by doing something you’re passionate about (nothing to do with the pencil drawings) and the fear that if you’re concentrating on making money rather than on ‘your art’, then your art suffers.
Imagine you are doing something you really love. It could be writing or painting or baking cinammon buns. You become totally engrossed in the process, lose track of time, are not really thinking because you are ‘doing’. You are in the flow.
The focus on money could mean you sell out
But then, you decide you’d like to make it into a money-making venture. So you start learning and thinking about how to do what you’re doing a little bit differently. Which somehow becomes a lot differently.
It’s easy to get carried away with other people’s rules. You can lose sight of what it was you were enjoying in the first place.
When you try to follow ‘the rules’ towards making a buck, or even, a living, your personal style and je ne sais quoi that made what you were doing original and authentic can suffer, as a consequence. You might even begin to enjoy it less…
Basically, you could sell out.
But we all need money. And it would be great if we could make it by doing something we love.
What’s with the attitude of gratitude?
When Sam asked me about my attitude of gratitude, I vaguely wondered what it had to do with our conversation, but I told her I’d been practising gratitude for a couple of years, on and off. I felt a bit smug.
How my attitude of gratitude began
My introduction to an ‘attitude of gratitude’ probably began when a life coach gave me homework. She invited me to go out and buy a special notebook (and I love notebooks), and write three things that I am grateful for every evening. Those instructions came at a time when I didn’t know the meaning of self-care, and just going and buying myself a notebook seemed really self-indulgent – but because my coach had told me to do it, I felt justified. It was a wonderful sensation of being kind to myself. I bought a couple of pens too – those pens with the beautiful shiny green and blue metallic ink, like the feathers of a peacock or a hummingbird. Kingfisher colours. Shades of dragonfly.
So I told Sam about this, and that it had really helped.
I remember those first few evenings: taking the notebook and pen out as my new ritual, and thinking about the things I was really grateful for. I enjoyed thinking back over the day. I began to appreciate the smaller things. And I began to make beautiful doodles too. Hearts, flowers, sunshine, clouds and thunder… dragonflies.
I told Sam that it helped me to appreciate life. It helped me to heal. I believe it is deeply linked with mindfulness.
An attitude of gratitude means you take notice
When you are developing an attitude of gratitude, you are basically taking notice. You look and pay attention. You are mindful. And if you’re paying attention so you can write stuff in your journal later that day, so what. It doesn’t matter why you do it, if it means you are becoming more appreciative of life. You begin to constantly search for new things to be grateful for.
It really does work.
Pass it on to the kids
I probably then got a bit braggy with Sam, as I went on to tell her that I try to encourage it for my kids. Sometimes at the weekend, when they come downstairs I’ll suggest they write down three things they are grateful for.
Sam listened. As she does. Until I had finished. But her response gave me pause for thought.
Reigniting an old passion
In our earlier conversation about my old artwork, I had mentioned that it’s a shame that some of the drawings are unfinished. There’s one, in particular, of my grandad, that I wish I’d finished.
Upon her suggestion, perhaps I’ll finish it now, even though he’ll never be able to pose for me again.
A different take on an attitude of gratitude
Sam recommended that I pick up a pencil drawing every week, and send them or give them to somebody as a gift.
I balked at first. Who would want something I’ve drawn? It’s not like I’m an artist or anything. And then I remembered how it feels to receive something that somebody has made. It could simply be a hand-written note. Perhaps some home-prepared chutney or a cake. Or a knitted scarf. A gift which somebody has put a little piece of themselves into always warms my heart (and if it’s a scarf, my neck too).
Under our sofa, between two thick pieces of card, lie little creations that I have worked on. Small fragments of myself. Some of them are resurfacing to become little gifts, to make somebody, somewhere, smile.
I haven’t managed to finish a single drawing (yet). But I have given away three, so far, and I intend to send out some more.
Having an attitude of gratitude is about giving back as well as ‘just’ being grateful
I’ve reframed my idea of what an ‘attitude of gratitude’ is. Instead of internalising gratitude and making it all about me, Sam has given a whole new slant to gratitude, linking it with… giving.
She said it could raise my energetic vibration. I’m not entirely sure what this means but I’m learning. It certainly sounds positive. If giving away small works of (perfectly imperfect) art to friends and loved ones raises my vibration, makes me happy, and encourages gratitude in others, then maybe the ripple effect will spur me towards sticking with writing from my heart.
I would like to make a living from writing in some form or another. But just as importantly, I want to continue to enjoy writing, to be in my flow. I hope that in some way, it can help others, that it could be my gift to others. I dare to hope that the two – writing to connect, and writing in my flow – are interlinked.
In an article I read recently, about how to teach children about gratitude, one exercise suggests using three envelopes for money. One is for saving, one is for spending (yey!) and the third is for giving.
You don’t have to monetise everything you love.One of Jenna Britton’s takeaways from her interview with Liz Zuluaga on the Brave Enough to Be podcast
In Jenna Britton’s first Brave Enough to Be podcast, she interviews photographer Julie Zuluaga. They agree that even as an entrepreneur, you don’t have to monetise everything. And perhaps that was Sam’s point to me. Once you take your focus off making money in one area of your life, and shift it towards sharing and gratitude, you feel a little lighter. Your entire perspective changes a little.
I am sincerely grateful to Sam. Among other things, she has made me braver.
Thank You to my Followers and Readers
To every one of you who reads this post, and any others that I’ve written – Thank You! I started this blog just under a year ago and it makes me happy. Thank you for following me (not in the creepy sense), for commenting, for engaging. I send you love and good vibes only, man!
What are you thankful for? What was your best gift ever?
Is there a way for you to reframe your attitude of gratitude?