Episode 247 – Gratitude and Hope

Rob Shallenberger: Welcome back to our Becoming Your Best podcast listeners. This is Rob Shallenberger, and I hope you’re having a fabulous day wherever you’re at in the world. You know, for those who listen to this in the next week or so, in Utah we are just starting into the fall colors. So, you’re just starting to see some orange and red in the mountains. It’s a beautiful time of the year. We have a garden growing right now and I noticed that next week the low is going to be 28 degrees Fahrenheit. So that’ll be the end of most of our garden next week, but you know, I love this time of year. There’s a lot of cool things happening as we go into the fall. 


So, on this podcast, speaking of that, I want to focus on two things, specifically: gratitude and hope. Fall happens to be my favorite time of year. I’m not sure it’s my wife’s because she knows that winter is imminent and that summer is fading away. But, I really want to focus for just a few minutes, on gratitude and hope, two very powerful emotions and things that we can focus on that will have a big impact on our life. And I’ll explain why I want to take just a minute on both of these.  


So, let’s start with gratitude. I went through a seven-day gratitude series, and it actually took me 13 days, to go through it. I spent, what averaged out to be about every other morning, doing a meditation. I went on my back porch at the sunrise and I would just focus on being present and I listened to this – I call it a guided meditation – it was just, like I said, a gratitude series, focused on gratitude. And I learned some interesting things from doing that. I want to share a couple of those with you and hopefully, it may resonate with some of you that are listening, and it will get the wheels spinning as to what it might mean in your life.  


I want you to think about just a couple of things. What are the enemies of gratitude? Probably there’s a lot of ways to answer that. One is, comparing ourselves to others because there will be never enough on one way or the other. Let me explain what I mean by that. There will always be someone better, richer, more handsome, or pretty, etcetera. There’s always going to be someone out there that’s higher than we are in whatever way we’re evaluating ourselves against them. There will also be someone who isn’t as rich, doesn’t have as much money, is not as handsome or pretty, and so on. So, there’ll be someone on the other side of the scale as well. So, comparing doesn’t help on either side of the equation. And if we’re always looking at the other person who has more, we’ll never be satisfied and be able to enjoy the present. On the same note, if we’re always comparing ourselves to the other person that has less, it can breed a sense of complacency and potentially stunt our growth, because we say, “Oh, we’re doing great compared to so and so”, right? Instead, the focus is on living in the present while still maintaining an eye towards our vision. That’s what this is all about. It’s how do we live and enjoy the present? How do we be in the present, while still keeping an eye towards our vision? So, there should be this sense of gratitude and living in the moment, yet continuing to get better and improving ourselves, realizing that that’s a lifelong journey towards accomplishing our vision. 


Every day, we can identify what we’re grateful for. And, in my opinion, once we do that, we can acknowledge God’s hand in our lives. So, what we would do, or what I did in this meditation, and the person who was doing this would walk me through is really just teaching me how to be present in the moment. It was interesting. So, here’s one thing that I would invite you to consider, is to focus on setting aside a few minutes this week to meditate. You know, the more times you do it, the better and what I’ve learned from this – and I’ve meditated and done yoga for a long time, so this isn’t new, but the focus on gratitude over this seven-day gratitude series was new. And so, you can do a ten-minute meditation or a five-minute meditation, anybody can do this. You can make time in the day at some point, maybe it’s the evening, the morning, whatever works best for you, but find a few minutes that you can set aside to meditate. And when you do, allow your mind to be present, and simply acknowledge what you are grateful for. 


Maybe it’s an active brain and the ability to think. My mom has lost that. She has early-onset Alzheimer’s. she was diagnosed 10 years ago and at this point, she can’t put together a sentence, doesn’t recognize us anymore. And so, man, I’m thankful for a brain every day. I’m thankful for the ability to reason and think and put together sentences. You know, think about your healthy body – even if you have something going on in your body, there are other parts that are working. So even if a part’s not, focus on what is, a liver, a kidney because for every one of those someone has it that’s not working. So, the fact that it is, is a blessing. How about the roof over your head, access to food. If you’re doing this outside, just listen to the birds chirping. It’s interesting to do that. It really brings us into the moment, if you will. You can listen to the leaves rustling on the trees.  


So, all I’m suggesting is that during these meditations when we really start to look inward and just be present with what’s happening to our body and the things around us, it can really transport us to a different place, a much better place. Versus when we scroll through social media, it’s so easy to say “Well, look at so and so. Oh, look what they’re doing. Oh, they just bought this. They just bought that. Oh, look how perfect their kids are.” You know, and that’s just a trail that none of us will go down successfully. It’ll never be enough. Jeff Bezos, he has $200 billion now net worth financially. Someone will surpass him someday. So, it just never does any good to compare ourselves to others. This is a race between us and ourselves. It’s staying present, being grateful for what we have right now while keeping our eye towards a vision so that we’re also not complacent in that journey. And there’s a balancing act, I guess you call it a good tension, that goes on between living in the moment, while not being complacent and still focusing on improving.  


So, I’d invite you to consider doing a couple of things. Do your own gratitude series over the next few days; take just a few minutes, meditate, focus on all the things that you really have, that you’re grateful for because you could number these into the hundreds and the thousands. And the second – you know, this may or may not apply to some of you – consider taking a social media break. If you’re spending more than 10-15 minutes a day on Facebook or Instagram or name the site, consider taking a break from that and just see what impact it has. And it doesn’t need to be a permanent break, but maybe a week or two weeks and just see how you feel while you’re focusing on this gratitude. For me, it’s been a pretty awesome experience, I’ve now been primarily off of social media for now going on two months, and it really has been – just one word to sum it up would be – great. And I’ll still go there for work and other things periodically, but it’s been a nice break. All right, so that was the first topic – gratitude. Having an attitude of gratitude can cure so many ills in our lives. And so, I would just ask and invite us all to be – instead of comparing to others and things like that – grateful for what we have, while still keeping our eye towards a vision and working towards the future.  


The second is hope. Let’s talk about hope for just a couple of minutes. This is interesting, I do believe that there’s a God and I do believe there’s a Devil. Hope, in my opinion, is from God. Hopelessness is from the adversary. In the New Testament, in Matthew 24, he’s talking about the last days and there’s this statement in there where it says, “In the last days, men’s hearts shall fail them.” And there’s a lot of different ways to interpret this. There’s a cardiovascular surgeon who I know, who said, “I think that this means people are going to have heart disease.” And that certainly could be one way to look at it. In my opinion, while there are multiple ways to look at it, one of the ways that we’re seeing this happening right now is people are losing hope. I mean, think about that, think about your own family members, think about your friends, your coworkers. COVID, in many cases, it’s just been an accelerator for this, it’s like it had been an injection of anxiety in our society. And so, this is something that will touch each one of us, whether it’s our family, friends, or coworkers. And each of us can play a role in this. Let me give you an example of this. 


We co-wrote a book, that many of you have read and ordered, called ‘Conquer Anxiety’. We wrote it with Jon Skidmore, who’s a licensed psychologist. I was talking with him a couple of weeks ago and he said that anxiety right now is at an all-time high. He’s never been busier. So, for him, the business has been great. But that’s not a good thing when you’re talking about anxiety here. COVID has put a lot of people in a tough position – or I should say, what’s happening in the world as a result. And this is when we need to believe and have hope. And if we watch the news, if we watch Fox News or CNN or Drudge Report or name the site, 16 out of 17 news stories on average are negative. 


So that doesn’t fuel hope very well if we’re always engaged in the news and watching what’s happening in the world, because primarily, it’s going to be negative. Right? I mean, just about everyone listening to this is already familiar with the divide that exists, at least in the United States, right now. They’re just becoming more polar and polar, these extremes, and people aren’t even able to have conversations anymore. And I just want to share one story that I read about last night, as it relates to hope. If we can flip off the news and not be inundated by what the media is portraying happening in the world, then we can also buy into the fact that there are still thousands and millions of people out there doing great and amazing things. And actually, while there is a lot of negativity in the world, this is also a great time to rekindle hope.  


So, let me give you an example of this. Yesterday I read about a lady in Heber city where I live. And she was explaining to some people at Smith’s – a supermarket here in the United States – that someone had just stolen the cash out of her purse. And her social security payment was in that, that’s what she was going to use to pay for her food, and it was gone. So, there was a small group of people around her. Well, a UPS driver was nearby, he overheard this lady talking I’m guessing probably near tears. As she was talking about what just happened, he walked up to her, he pulled out a significant amount of cash handed to her, and said, “I can get more of this, you need it more than I do”. And then he walked away. And the lady who posted this on this Facebook group around the Heber Valley, where I live, it was one of the people in that circle who watched this interchange happen. And she just said it was so amazing to see someone do what that UPS driver did. And I don’t know, but I would guess that that UPS driver wouldn’t be “rich”. Yet, he gave a lady hope. He did something that was far above and beyond what anyone would ever expect or anticipate doing. And you watch that one ripple effect. I looked through the comments on that thread and the comments were people saying “Oh, that’s so great!”, “There are people in the world that are doing nice things.” And that was a story of hope. And I thought, man, there are still so many good people in the world. It’s just we’re being inundated by the news, which would make it sound like the world’s pretty much going to pot.  


And so, a couple of things to think about. If you feel that this is affecting you, if you felt anxiety increase, or if you felt your hope start to waver in any way, I’d encourage you, first of all, to turn off the news. There’s this acronym that we use in our conferences GI-GO, greatness in, greatness out. What we put in is what we can expect out, it’s kind of like a computer. You know, you can’t access a file that’s not there. Well, the brain is the same way – we put a file in, we can access that file. So, the question is, what files are we uploading to our brain? And the more positive, the more good that we can upload to our brain, the more we can draw on. If we’re constantly inundating our brain with negative, well, then you can flip that acronym and say, GI-GO garbage in, garbage out. And it will impact our emotions and other things. So, I would encourage you that if you’re feeling any of this, to turn off the news for a little while, and instead look for different positive outlets. Podcasts like this, there are other podcasts out there, in fact, there are thousands of them that are uplifting and they’re good and they’re focused on the things that we can control. So, flip that! Instead of garbage in, garbage out, put greatness in, and then we can expect greatness out. So all I’m inviting us to consider is to replace doubt and fear with hope and love. We need to believe that everything will work out for our good, and then live accordingly, because faith and fear cannot coexist together.  


And I would hope that we can rekindle our own faith in a darkening world because there are thousands of people like that UPS driver out there and that we can start in our own family and be cognizant of their needs. You know, not just assume that the people around us are good to go. There can be a pretty tumultuous battle going on inside of someone that we’re not even aware of. And so, this is why it’s important for each one of us as leaders, leading our own lives, our families, and the influence that we have around us to reach out, to talk with people, ask how they’re doing, not just at the surface level, but to go a little bit deeper. That’s where we can actually play a role in bringing hope to other people’s lives. Because I do believe – what was said in Matthew 24 – their hearts shall fail, and I’ve seen it happen in people all over in communities, I’ve seen it on Facebook. This is where we as leaders can step up and lead. It starts with our own lives. It starts with having faith and replacing fear with faith. And I do believe that that starts with our mindset internally and really believing that it’s true. So, what I hope is that just this brief conversation has helped spur some ideas, has helped us think about what might matter most in your life. So, with the gratitude side of it, consider meditating a few times this week with a real focus on what you’re grateful for. Start with your body, what do you hear around you? You know, anything that you have in your life that’s been good for you, focus on those things. Limit social media if necessary. And anytime you start feeling any envy or jealousy of any kind, replace it with something you’re grateful for, and acknowledge God in that. In my opinion. 


And second is hope. Turn off the news. Replace instead with messages of hope, faith, and things that are uplifting, because that’ll spur a lot more ideas of what we can do to contribute to make the world a better place when the news and media would cast it as a darkening world. So, we need more good out there. And when you see it, acknowledge it, share it with family. I would invite you – like I’m trying to do with my family – to be more cognizant of the feelings and the emotions that exist not only within myself, but the people around us. And so, that’s some of the good that can come from COVID, and some of these other things that have happened in the world – they can really turn us inward as to what we can do with ourselves to get to a better place and with those around us.  


So, I hope this has been beneficial. Thank you for joining us. We look forward to these podcasts every week. We hope they’re beneficial to you in some way. So, between now and next week, we hope you have a fabulous day and a great week. Thanks again for joining us! 


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