I was thinking recently about gratitude. My friend Laurie, who is also an expat from the states (originally from San Francisco) and lives around the corner from me in Hannover, Germany, gave me the idea for this post so I owe the whole gratitude idea to her. You see recently, she held an event for ladies who live in Hannover (but are from another country) to get together for dinner and networking – I even met a few decor8 readers which was a lovely surprise! It was such a special evening to be with ladies from all parts of the globe — Brazil, America, Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands… but in addition to having friendly chats and exchanging information about our new culture, language, lifestyle — Laurie gave us each a piece of paper and spoke for a moment about gratitude. What was the paper for? Well I’ll get to that.
Laurie (who is a change management consultant who works for high profile companies) told us that when people normally relocate it is easy for them, especially when grouped together with others who have relocated as well, to start complaining and conversations can quickly become quite negative as a result. This is one reason why I’ve not yet joined a local expat group — I’ve heard that people in these groups can be big whiners and that’s just not my style. I believe that the more you complain, the more negativity you invite into your life and the more your complaints turn into reality. I also believe that complainers receive less help – people usually want to help those whom they like and complainers tend to have fewer friends. What do you think?
Now back to this inspiring dinner party with Laurie…
She tactfully explained to our group that it’s best to concentrate on what we have in our new culture, versus the things we may miss, and then she asked us to write down what we are thankful for… what do we have currently in our life that we love? Specifically, she asked us what we love about living in our new city. My list covered both sides of my index card and I quickly filled it, which told me something instantly — that I found a great spot to live and work!
The other ladies didn’t realize it (I was discreet), but I took notice of who had to really sit there and think about things to list vs. those who quickly listed their favorite things. I wondered if the ones who quickly wrote their list vs. those who had to really think about what they were thankful have a happier expat experience because they are naturally seeing the good things? Or? It also made think that perhaps by making regular mental notes (and from time to time making them on paper, too) that we all should remind ourselves what we are currently thankful for, what we love about our life, our personality, our home, our city, our job, those close to us… I think being thankful makes us less prone to negative thinking and gives life more meaning. We shouldn’t have to suffer an extreme hardship before we start to appreciate what we have, right?
And so, since yesterday was Turkey Day in America and many of you still have bellies full of pumpkin pie, perhaps it is a nice time to reflect on what you have currently that makes you feel grateful. What Are You Thankful For? I’d love to see some of your lists, would you mind sharing with me in the comments section below? I think writing a list publicly reinforces our feelings and also encourages others to look on the bright side and be more thankful too. Care to participate? I will join you with my list in the comments section below… You may also answer this question publicly on your blog and then leave a link to your blog post in the comments below – it’s up to you.
I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts! :)
(image: Sunday Suppers, a supper club I’m dying to attend someday in Brooklyn that also has a new blog!)