One of my favorite stories on gratitude is about a king and a servant who went on a hunting trip one day. A wild animal attacked them and the servant killed it, but was unable to prevent the king from losing one finger. Furious about what happened, the king sent his servant to prison. Later, the king went hunting alone and was captured by barbarians to be offered to their gods as a sacrifice. However, upon discovering that the king had a missing finger, he was set free because they found him incomplete and, therefore, unworthy to be offered to their gods.
The king thought about his servant whom he put to prison, and ordered his release to thank him. He realized that, if not for his servant, he would have died as a sacrificial offer. To the king’s surprise, the servant was more thankful to him. The king was confused and asked why. The servant answered, “My king, had you not put me to prison, I would have been the one offered to the gods. Thank you for keeping me safe.”
I have always admired people who look beyond stressful situations. I have a high regard for those who are grateful despite the challenges that come their way. Rachel Cruze, author of “Love Your Life Not Theirs,” once tweeted, “In a heart filled with gratitude, there is no room for discontentment.” It got me thinking, perhaps it is high time I looked at things differently and started being thankful.
Let me share with you three things, which we usually see as negative situations but which, I think, we should still be thankful for:
Traffic jams. Heavy traffic is really bad, especially in major cities. You lose your temper, because drivers would not give way. You whine about the time being wasted while being stuck in traffic. So what is it about traffic jam that you can be thankful for?
If you are driving your own car, the fact that you have a car is something to be thankful for. Not everyone is seated comfortably when commuting. If you are driving by yourself, be thankful for your “me-time.” It is an opportunity to talk to yourself, reflect and dream. If you are driving with family, co-workers, or friends on board – it is as an opportunity to build or strengthen relationships. If you find yourself in public transport, be thankful you can afford it, because some cannot.
Difficult people. One type of a difficult personality is called the negatron – these people just complain, judge and criticize. The second type is that who knows everything – they do not listen, because they think they are better than everyone. The third type is the passive one – they say yes to everything, do not exert effort, and let others do the work.
Difficult people are everywhere and suck all the energy out of you. What is it about them you ought to be thankful for?
If that difficult person is a client, be thankful because clients keep businesses alive. If the difficult person is a co-worker, be thankful, because you are given a venue to practice patience. If the difficult person is a family member, you may be that someone who has been called to understand his or her situation. Be thankful you have a purpose. In all cases, be thankful for the difficult people in your life. They remind us that, at some point, we might have been in that position and have overcome the situation.
Too much work. For auditors, February to May is the busiest period. We often work on multiple audit engagements, which means a number of working papers to review and meetings to attend. On top of these, we have to study new accounting standards and tax rules.
For others, too much work may mean beating a weekly deadline, extended work hours, or sacrificing family time or social life. How do you practice gratitude when you feel tired after a seemingly endless period of work?
For one, be thankful for being employed. Whether it is a new function in MS Excel or an accounting issue to resolve, learning new things from each task we accomplish are also things we ought to be grateful about.
Be thankful for deadlines, because they mark the completion of an assignment. Be thankful for extended work hours, because they enable you to stretch yourself just to get the work done. Be thankful that, in the work that you do, you actually have teammates with whom you exchange ideas. If you work by yourself and you feel all the pressure, be thankful that you can complete the job in your own way.
In a study made by psychology professor Dr. Robert Emmons, he summarized three benefits of being grateful. He said that gratitude helps boost the immune system (physical), it helps us become happier (psychological), and it helps us nurture and strengthen our relationships (social).
Last week, our Firm celebrated its 30th anniversary. I realize that I have been with the Firm for half of its existence. During the celebration, I was amazed by the presence of P&A Grant Thornton’s alumni, clients, and staff who attended the event. I could not help but feel overwhelmingly grateful to the alumni with whom I was able to reconnect, to our clients who gave time and exerted effort to celebrate with us despite their busy schedules, and to our staff who were so energized partying and celebrating such a momentous occasion for our Firm. Lastly, that celebration reminded me of how grateful I am to our Firm, P&A Grant Thornton, for giving me not just a job, but for providing me a career. Thank you!
Sheng Llovido is a partner of Audit & Assurance of P&A Grant Thornton. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading audit, tax, advisory and outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 21 partners and over 850 staff members. For your comments, please email sheng.llovido @ph.gt.com or [email protected] For more information about P&A Grant Thornton, visit our website www.grantthornton.com.ph.