November brings with it cooler weather, leaves of gold and the feeling of thanks in the air. It’s the perfect time to begin a practice of gratitude. You Know Neen is hosting the 2nd Annual 30 Days of Gratitude blog series, a place where the experience of gratitude will be explored and shared. I, along with several other contributors will be sharing our thoughts on all things gratitude.
Written by: Tom Vallone
When I think of being thankful, by instinct, I think of my wife and my remarkable and exciting kids. This year, however, I am especially grateful for a recent and thoughtful gift from said wife – she introduced me to a mindfulness practice.
A mindfulness practice focuses on being present in the daily rhythm of your life. At first, the ‘doubting Thomas’ in me was strong when Wife started talking about finding a moment when I was eating my morning cereal. I was sold though, after I attended one of Wife’s mindfulness workshops and she noted that as the ‘healthy-heart’ mantra became a practice in the 1960’s and 70’s, the ‘healthy mind’ is the new and impactful movement of this age. Additionally, I became aware that progressive-minded companies like Google and others have established at-work mindfulness practices for their employees. This intrigued me even more.
My practice begins each morning with a brief meditation to set the foundation of my day and entries into my gratitude journal, (another Neen-inspired gift.) This practice leaves me with a positive, uplifting calmness.
When I am able, I take a brisk walk listening to a podcast. Lately, my favorites are TED talks featuring topics like “Why We Lie” and “Failure Is An Option” to Freakonomics Radio discussing “Why Are We Still Using Cash?” to the story on the Leicester City Football Club in England. Interesting and diverting stories keep my curiosity flowing. And this is something like that ‘self care’ everyone keeps talking about. It’s time, just for me, to start my day off right.
What has this mindfulness practice done for me? I notice life more. The last time I was walking downtown between meetings, I actually breathed in the smells of the streets and the city. The smell of the sidewalk after a recent rain, the fumes of the exhaust from a bus; it took me back to walking the city streets of my youth. I realized I am being present and not just ‘getting’ through my day. It made me feel good and connected (and at first, a little weird).
I’m more engaged and present in my day, my conversations and my attitude. I am more mindful, thoughtful, and a better listener. It’s this listening which has created a new, positive energy (somehow) in my life. It’s strange, but I’m developing more positive outcomes and opportunities throughout the day.
And I’m reading regularly again (thoroughly enjoying Springsteen’s Born to Run.) I am experiencing a gentle rebirth and connection and know I am at the beginning of a journey that would have not been available to me if it were not for Wife’s gift.
So there you have it … my wonderful wife provided me a gift, one of the best ever, coming from her heart.
Tom Vallone is Vice President, Wintrust Asset Finance, Wintrust Capital. You can find him on Linkedin. He is also the Hubs of You Know Neen.
Have you started your 30 Days of Gratitude practice?
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