Have you ever wondered why clichés last so long? Perhaps time has shown they actually hold some degree of truth. Trouble is familiarity breeds contempt and so we’ve long moved on from giving those silly old sayings much value or credibility. “Two men looked out of prison bars, one saw mud the other saws stars.” You’ve heard that one and the partnering cliché I’m sure: “What you see is what you get.” There’s truth in that. Read any heading in the business section and what do you see? Do you see mud or stars? Main street is talking about the mud. That’s the pervading focus atm. Can you see where I am going with this? As a kid I got stuck in the mud at Stanley Bay. Once was enough. I remember deciding: “I’ll never make that mistake again.” I’ve kept my word. In the intervening decades I trained my mind to go for the stars rather than the mud. I look for the silver lining on the way up. It’s paid off handsomely. Not so much in terms of fiscal fortitude but rather in terms of my peace of mind and ongoing confidence in myself. It was heartening to read the research reported last month about what happens when you put your energy, attention and focus on the stars rather than the mud. It’s been revealed that when you put your focus on appreciation, gratitude for what you have rather than what you don’t have, on the glass half full, on the stars, there are multiple physical and psychological benefits. Benefits like better health, more energy, and even higher income! Apparently we ‘star people’ sleep more soundly (true!) have stronger relationships and live longer. Well that’s enough. What I do know for sure is that cultivating the habit of gratitude has increased my awareness of the abundance that surrounds me. In my work and in my relationships. I’m visibly more content with my life, I’m never grumpy for long and I’m surprisingly optimistic about the year ahead. So much for being grateful. As a starter, just saying ‘thank you’ is magic. It’s a forgotten word these days. I miss it. ‘Thank you’ is a gracious doorway to recognition and appreciation. It works among friends and it works in the workplace. I have to tell you about my friend Wendy. She’s the manager at a local store. I blew in one morning with a pleasant greeting: “Good morning folks, how are things?” Wendy took the lead. “Wouldn’t mind a raise” she quipped. Feeling a bit cheeky I pressed: “And Wendy, what would you really like?” Bingo! “Well, a ‘thank you’ from the boss would go a long way.” Out of the mouths of babes so to speak. I remember challenging a friend of mine recently, to try saying ‘thank you’ to his one of his staff each day. (He had complained to me that he didn’t really know them.) A week later he reported back. “Couldn’t do it” was his excuse. Maybe he hadn’t noticed the table loads of reports around revealing that for employees, workplace recognition is up there with wages, salary and oxygen. These days, when you go to work on monday morning, what do you see? Mud or stars? It’s hard to say ‘thank you’ to the mud I guess. Especially when you got your first dollop with the 6am news. This is where gratitude enters. When you start to express gratitude, even for the smallest observation, gesture or effort a miracle takes place. You begin to see more. You start to feel more. A sense of having enough gradually creeps into your consciousness. Abundance. You start to feel good. Confident. Blessed. Then you get the urge to pass it along - like pass the parcel. Do you see the picture? This stuff is light years away from allowing yourself to be devoured by fear. Credit crunch. Survival. Shakespeare said “Our fears are our enemies.” The grateful person shifts their attention, energy and focus from fear to gratitude. Please glance at the second paragraph again. It says: “What you see is what you get.” Thank God Captain Sullenberger saw the Hudson as a potential landing strip!. I’ll round off with some practical tips that you can practise at your leisure. But they’ll only make a difference when they have become habits. You know that. Tony Robbins teaches “Repetition is the mother of all success.” How To show Your Appreciation At Work: 1. Say something nice to someone within five minutes of arriving at work. For example. “That was very thoughtful thanks.” “Nice work!” 2. Count up how many times you have said ‘thank you’ today. 3. If you’re not the boss suggest to him/her that you include a moment of recognition for someone at staff meetings. 4. You may even go so far as to have a planned event of recognition and reward. For example a monthly ‘best idea’ award. 5. Set a tone of approval and appreciation. Add those qualities to your personality. Mark Twain said: “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” I have compiled a list of 76 recognition rewards. I’m happy to send you a PDF copy.