Two things came together last week to inspire this post: the death of a friend and the approach of Thanksgiving in the USA.
One of the most shocking aspects of my friend’s death was the vacuum left by the sudden absence of his huge enthusiasm for life. Bob had an admirable capacity for engagement and enjoyment. It’s not just that he was cheerful, it was that his cheerfulness seemed to spring from a whole-hearted, full-bodied “YES” to life.
Bob’s enthusiasm has caused me to reflect on my mortality. But it is not so much mortality that is on my mind as it is gratitude.
Bob had a lot to be grateful for. He loved his work, and he always seemed to have as much of it as he wanted without exerting a lot of effort. He loved his wife and was loved by her, and they seemed to bring out in each other a relaxed exuberance. There was plenty of room for both individual and shared passions.
What occurs to me as my thoughts about mortality and gratitude mingle is that our capacity for gratitude is equal to our capacity for living large.
By living large I mean leaning into possibilities for things like joy, connection, creating, discovery. It’s got nothing to do with accomplishment, prestige, or external markers of success.
When you work for yourself, plenty of opportunities for living large come from doing work you enjoy. It can seem that taking care of business is the price you pay for that.
But what if taking care of business is not a price you pay but rather another opportunity to live large?
Over the years I’ve worked with hundreds of people who experience the business side of self-employment as a price they pay to do what they love. I fell into this gig because I have experienced it that way myself, and I realized that it can be different.
One question has continually revealed the difference. That question is, “Where is it written that (insert the business challenge or task of your choice) can’t or won’t match my values, intentions, and talents?
Or to put it in the positive: “What would this look like if it is part of living large?”
So now I’ll turn it over to you. Where do you find yourself hampered in business by habitual turns of thought? What if there are no rules saying it has to be that way?
What if you could take it on as part of living large?
What if you could be as grateful for the business side of things as you are for the work you love?
Photo by Jeffrey Pomranka via Flickr