There is a phrase that we use a lot in our family: “We stand on the shoulder of giants.” To us it means that so many people came before us and by their blood, sweat, tears, and sacrifices we are here today. This all comes down to the principle of gratitude.
The biggest enemy working against gratitude is independence and ingratitude. Unfortunately this causes many to adopt a mindset of entitlement or extreme independence. Those who have sacrificed much often feel taken advantage of, under-appreciated, and discouraged. Rather than build on the experience, wisdom, and work of those who come before us, we often tread the same path, make the same mistakes, and ultimately repeat the cycle.
Warren Buffet famously said “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” This phrase perfectly demonstrates what it means to enjoy, honor, and have gratitude for the work of those who walked before us. We need to purposefully focus our attention on the person who planted and nurtured the tree. They are probably overjoyed that someone is enjoying the shade of the tree they planted. That small act of kindness was done out of love and a vision of the future.
How do we increase our gratitude?
- The first step is awareness. We need to become aware of everything we have because of someone else’s sacrifices and work. You can begin by simply asking yourself the question “What am I grateful for?”
- After becoming aware of this, we can make better decisions about what we do, asking ourselves the question “Does this honor or build upon what I am grateful for?”
- Finally, with better decisions come better results. We can continue to build upon our gratitude, thus standing on the shoulders of giants.
No matter our life situation, we have all been given a lot. In becoming more aware and grateful of everything that came before us, we are able to start building and creating a bigger future, one that honours the work and sacrifices of those who built our strong foundation. The contrast to this is pointlessly repeating, reliving, and rebuilding much of the work that has already been done.
So what are you grateful for?