Throughout the year at Marsh & McLennan Agency, we hold core value training for our associates. In these sessions, we talk about our values and explore how those values impact our work and personal lives.
I enjoy each one of these trainings, but I especially like discussing our core value attitude. When the group is sharing about how to foster a positive attitude, the importance of approaching life with a spirit of gratitude always comes up in our discussion. It’s no accident that attitude and gratitude rhyme. They go hand-in-hand.
Gratitude shapes so many aspects of our lives and leads to the natural outflow of connection with others. When I take the time to make a list of all the “things” I’m grateful for, what always comes up first is not a “thing” at all, but the people in my life. I’m guessing the same is true for you, too.
In this way, an attitude of gratitude is intertwined with another one of our corporate values—community involvement. When we appreciate all that we have, especially our close relationships with family, friends, colleagues and clients, we naturally feel a strong pull to pay forward all that we have received.
Now, we jump into the holiday season with all the busy-ness of preparing for the holidays. We buzz around, hectically shopping, decorating, and socializing. The “season of giving” can begin to feel like an overwhelming and obligatory to-do list.
During a great scene in the movie “Parenthood”, Gil (played by Steve Martin) is under extreme stress from quitting his job right before he finds out his wife is pregnant—again. Despite feeling overwhelmed and stressed, Gil is committed to getting over to the baseball field to coach his son’s baseball team. He tells his son to get ready and his son complains, asking “Do I have to?” Gil yells back, “My whole life is a have-to!”
How do we retain the spirit of giving, when it begins to feel like our whole life is a big “have-to”? How do we stay involved in our community during this time of year? How do we provide much needed support to our community organizations when we are feeling depleted or burned out by life’s demands?
One answer is gratitude.
When we have committed to giving of our time – often our most precious resource—especially during the holiday season, it helps to pause and remember why we committed to the cause in the first place. Often, the cause we have chosen to focus our energies on is personally meaningful to us. Perhaps, we remember a time when someone helped us get through a difficult college course, and so we choose to mentor foster youth. Maybe, one of our family members or a close friend was sick with a serious illness, so we decide to donate our time to an organization that is actively funding a cure. By remembering, with gratitude, the way we were positively impacted, we can recommit to giving back.
And here’s the irony. When we practice gratitude and recommit to our community, we are the ones who receive. Our awareness of our deeper purpose is restored. Our cup is refilled. Our energy reignited.
During this season of giving, finding our way back to our right place in the lives of our family, friends, clients, colleagues, and community—to the meaning of our true purpose— is the greatest gift of all.