Rethinking Gratitude

10 years ago, I am not sure I saw the word “gratitude” used as much as it is today. There were a few places it started. I remember Lululemon being one of the first as a brand to really put it all over their walls and bags probably, about 15 years ago. Then brands like Spiritual Gangster came along ten years ago and started splashing it on every piece of clothing. Then with Instagram, it started to become mainstream.  

Mindfulness started to become front and center probably five years ago. I remember downloading the Calm App back in 2016 after a panic attack and seeing Bobby Axelrod from Billions meditating. Then suddenly, as gratitude is a component of mindfulness, it started amping up. And even COVID over the last two years has challenged us to take a look in the mirror.  

So here we are today, the week of Thanksgiving, and of course, we are going to talk about gratitude…but maybe there is more?    

At Fitlife Foods, gratitude is one of our five values that we speak about constantly, which has been the case since our inception 11 years ago. When we talk about gratitude, we use the descriptors like “always be thankful,” “celebrate accomplishments,” and “embrace the greater good.” These are easy words to say and hear, and they make a lot of sense, but when you have an enormously busy day and life, how easy is it to follow through with gratitude?    

Is it easy or recognizable to think about gratitude when you have young kids on your hip, the demands of a busy career, the need to find time for your friends and significant other; or how about a little time for you as well? In my experience, when the day takes over along with the demands of work, family, and friends, time for yourself becomes all-consuming, and in many cases, gratitude becomes forgotten.   

In the heat of moments, we often fail to remember this connection. Instead, we see the perfect lives other people are living in the tiny snapshots on Instagram and Facebook, and we get caught up in comparisons, thinking about what we don’t have vs. what we do have. This never ends.  And it can be hard to avoid getting caught up in these comparisons unless you develop a daily trigger to break this cycle for yourself.   

As I reflect on the past year at Fitlife Foods, I have an overwhelming sense of—yes, gratitude—but also joy. I am grateful to our incredible team, who spent countless hours re-shaping our meals to allow for our innovative packaging change. Our goal was to elevate the quality, freshness, shelf life, and flavor of our dishes, and this work behind the scenes was amazing. Every department at Fitlife Foods played a hand in this. I am grateful that we opened our first location outside of Florida in Atlanta and am grateful to the team for making this happen. However, nothing would be possible without our incredible customers to whom we are all grateful. Our customers allow us to do what we love each day.   

I recently heard a quote from Milton Erickson: “Life will bring you pain all by itself. Your responsibility is to create joy.” And as I reflect on this quote, I am also ready to rethink the approach to how we use the word "gratitude." As I approach Thanksgiving, instead of asking myself and others around the table, “what are we grateful for” I want to replace it this year with “what has brought you joy this year?" And, while the past two years of COVID have brought challenges and pain for all of us, it is our responsibility to equally celebrate the moments of joy.    

They do not have to be the grand moments like living in Tampa the week your home team is playing in the Super Bowl or going on a family vacation, but smaller and still significant moments. For me, I find joy in spending a day with our entire team, taste-testing a new meal, going and coming back from an early Saturday morning run, welcoming a new member of our team, or hearing a customer story about how Fitlife Foods or a Wellness Coach made a positive impact on their life. I find joy in moments of peace reading the paper, spending a night out with my wife and friends or, drinking that first cup of coffee in the morning. I find joy in leaving a conversation knowing I made a positive impact, watching my daughter run cross country or playing tennis, seeing my son play soccer or flag football or, even just not having to think about what I am making for lunch or dinner during a busy week because I have a fridge full of prepared meals.   

So, this year, as Thanksgiving draws closer, I encourage and invite you to reflect on those moments of joy and seek out new ones. Look for them because they are all around you, every day. Even when both kids are climbing all over you, your significant other is driving you crazy (I am certainly not speaking from personal experience ☺), or you just received an email from a colleague that made you feel frustrated, joy is still there if you look for it. There's more of it out there than pain, but you must keep your eyes open to find it.

I am appreciative for all the joy this past year has brought and for the joy that is yet to come. To our amazing Fitlife Foods team members and customers with whom none of this would be possible: I wish many moments of joy for you as we celebrate Thanksgiving. You fill me with gratitude.😉   

Happy Thanksgiving,