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Enlightened Leadership Blog | Not Just Another Gratitude Blog Post | December 2023

This morning, I counted seven emails in my inbox with the words gratitude, thank you, grateful, or Thanksgiving in the subject lines. (The rest mentioned Black Friday sales—I’m writing this on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.)

We’ve entered what many call the Season of Thanksgiving, the Season of Giving, or the Season of Gratitude. It’s the time of year when smiles tend to be a bit wider, purse strings a tad looser, and hearts a little more open. And that’s a good thing. We often count our blessings, give more generously, and love more loudly this time of year.

Why It Is Sometimes Hard

I’ll be the first to admit that expressing—even feeling—authentic gratitude can be hard. When grief overwhelms. When bottom lines are in the red. When layoffs loom. When our doubts creep in. When mistakes happen. When anxiety from family drama or national crises manifests . . . when life circumstances are defined more as struggles than triumphs, it can be difficult to find something to be thankful for. But we must. Why?

  1. Gratitude and Anxiety Cannot Co-Exist — This is the funny thing about our emotions: We cannot hold space for competing emotions simultaneously. When we name something positive, the negative retreats into the shadows. When we are thankful, our anxiety disappears. If we express gratitude, our worry ceases.

And when our anxiety vanishes, we better understand ourpresentsituations because we stop worrying about future letdowns, which may never even transpire.

Only in the present can we do great things.

  1. Gratitude (Not Success) Yields Generosity — When we’re grateful, we’re able to give cheerfully. I find, especially in business, generosity is often attached to success. If we make more, we give more. But I think we should lead with gratitude, and not with our financial positions. As we practice gratitude out of the character of our hearts, we’re better able to discern what we need versus what we want—and what others don’t have but need—and with our hearts open, we become more generous—with our time, our talents, and our treasures.

Generate more ideas than you need for yourself so you can give some of them away.

Right Now

‘Tis the season. So before you move on from this post, take out a piece of paper and pen, pull out your phone, or open a blank document or note on your computer. List three things you’re grateful for today. Don’t just say them; write/type them. They may be significant things, or to you, they may seem minor. It doesn’t matter. It’s the act of thanksgiving that causes change. And there’s always something to be grateful for.

Once you’ve listed your three things, think of someone else who would benefit from you sharing each one.

Grateful for higher-than-expected revenue? Choose a local charity to support.

Grateful for a team of independent A-players that gets stuff done? Give them an unexpected, free day off.

Grateful for remaining in business after a rough year financially? Send handwritten thank-you notes to your clients.

Grateful for your family that supports your entrepreneurial spirit? Surprise them by making them dinner, a special dessert, or taking them to a movie.

Grateful for a sunny day? Invite someone to go for a walk, even if it’s a work meeting.

Grateful to be alive? Thank God for waking you up today and commit to serving others with part of your day.

A Full Year of Gratitude

We can be thankful for what we already have while we pursue all that we want, every month of every year, not just in this season.

A season of gratitude is way too short. Practicing our gratitude in tangible ways year-round is a win-win-win-win. A win for our customers. A win for our teams. A win for our families (and us) and a win for our communities—for all of humanity. Perhaps 2024 will be your year of gratitude. If so, we’d love to hear what blessings transpire along the way.

One Last Thing . . .

As we close out this year, we want to say, “We are so grateful for you!”

As a show of my gratitude for the opportunity to serve others and give voice to stories with my business, I’m offering a 50% discount on an hour-long, 1-1 book coaching session through my writing services business. If you have a book idea but you’re not sure how to get started, this is for you. Purchase by 12/15/2023 and use by 3/29/2024. Contact me through my website,, for more information. Thank you!

By Cortney Donelson

* Image by Andrew Lloyd Gordon from Pixabay.