A season of gratitude

Robert A. Valente, CEO and Managing Member, RAV Financial Services LLC

So here we are in the midst of the holiday season and in the United States, Thanksgiving is one of the major holidays of the year. However, the celebration of Thanksgiving has taken a second-place to the entire “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” hullabaloo. This year retailers even infringed upon the Thanksgiving Day itself, opening retail stores before midnight to give shoppers a jump on bargain shopping. It seems that shoppers will go to extremes to get items they want. Some would argue that our society may be too immersed in consumerism during this holiday season.

Thanksgiving engenders a time of reflection for me. Our culture seems to dwell on how much we don’t have. All advertisements keep reminding us of what new things we could buy to bring us happiness. Amidst all of this belief that buying more material things will make us happy, I retreat to my more contemplative side. I pause and reflect on the things that I have.

Why not focus on what we do have and express gratitude for that? I hope that you will all join me in this exercise. Living a life of gratitude is part of the journey from success to significance. It is a trail through values and purpose where we identify the principles and attitudes that we have accumulated.

Traditionally, Thanksgiving is one of the only days of celebration that is not dependent on gift-giving. Getting together with family and friends does not require buying presents as a port-of-entry to the festivities. Thanksgiving is truly about acknowledging and appreciating others.

Thanksgiving and gratitude walk hand-in-hand during this season. Thirty years ago I began sending Thanksgiving cards to clients, thanking them for our professional and personal relationship, while also wishing them a prosperous New Year in advance. I began to transform myself from the individual who always looked at “what we did not yet achieve” to the person who became “grateful for everything I have achieved and am becoming.” That was the beginning of a huge energy shift in me.

So Thanksgiving is a time to check in on how well you are living a life of gratitude. In her book, “Attitudes of Gratitude,” M.J. Ryan teaches “how to give and receive joy every day of your life.” It’s so easy for us to take things for granted. Unfortunately, we often feel grateful only when we hear of other’s misfortunes or catastrophes. The catastrophe may put things in perspective momentarily. The challenge is to be present in gratitude as a way of daily life.

Next take inventory of how conscious you are of Universal Laws. Many authors have written about Universal Laws. These laws seem to be inter-related and are founded on the principle that everything in the universe is energy and that our thoughts and actions are intimately connected with this vast energy.

You have heard the saying “What goes around comes around.” Our thoughts, feelings, words and actions are forms of energy. All of these come back to us to create our own realities.

You have heard people say, “Talk is cheap” and “Everyone has an opinion.” These are indirectly referencing the Law of Action. The Law of Action must be applied in order for us to manifest things on earth. Therefore, we must engage in actions that support our thoughts, dreams, emotions and words.

Others feel that everything is out of their control. The Law of Cause and Effect states that nothing happens by chance or outside the Universal Laws. Every action has a reaction or consequence and we “reap what we have sown.”

The one law I concentrate the most on is the Law of Attraction. This Universal Law demonstrates how our thoughts, feelings, words and actions produce energies which, in turn, attract “like” energies. Negative energies attract negative energies and positive energies attract positive energies. So in business it’s important to attract those whose energy is similar to yours. This helps create harmony and comradery in the work place, in turn allowing others to work together towards a common goal and purpose.

As an experiment today, say out loud what you are most grateful for and see what sorts of emotions are triggered. More emphatically, keep a daily gratitude journal and enjoy the results of your daily writing routine. As I write in my journal, now is the appropriate time to say thanks to you, for a job well done in your business, for setting the direction and pace for your employees and offering others education and support in what you do. I am thankful for your readership and am hopeful that next year will bring even greater things than today.

I hope you will join me as I reflect upon my sense of gratitude. I am confident that your introspection will give new meaning to your definition of the Thanksgiving celebration. May everyday be a thanksgiving for you. Best wishes for a wonderful and prosperous 2012.

Robert A. Valente, CFP®, AEP®, is CEO and Managing Member of RAV Financial Services LLC. He can be reached at [email protected]