Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

When we are living from Resonance—operating from a deep identity core that keeps us individually and collectively focused on transformation—we are:

Living on Purpose

Living in Connection

Living for Development

Living with Gratitude (Valuing life)

Living in Action

It is easy for me to tell that my inner stores are depleted when I am asked: What are you grateful for?…and I don’t have a flood of immediate answers. When gratitude is illusive, it is time to pause, to slow down and allow myself to truly see, hear and to embrace all that is good, miraculous and worth noticing and celebrating everyday.

Noticing. Such a pivotal word. My ability to live in gratitude, that inner choice to be living from the Resonance of my identity and purpose, such that I appreciate and value the life around me, comes down to what I notice, what I pay attention to and therefore what I give energy to. This simple principle has been confirmed in the applied social sciences, from positive psychology to organization change and development—we, humans and human systems, change and grow in the direction of the questions we ask and the frames of references that form the way we think, act and interact. This is known as the Simultaneity Principle, a core principle of appreciative inquiry which calls us to engage in inquiry based on positive images of what we want, now and into the future. Does this mean, not facing difficult realities and harmful truths? Not at all, but even in the midst of difficult, chaotic and traumatic circumstances, what we pay attention to and put energy towards grows. We can choose to keep admiring the wicked problems we share…or we can put creative energy towards co-creating solutions that will make a difference. To turn our energy towards creative possibilities, we must first be able to see those possibilities, which starts with valuing what is already giving us signals and lighting a path to our possible futures. In the midst of chaos and trauma, can we see the openings that point us to possibility?

In a hurting world, it is so hard to notice. To be grateful. But research tells me that those who choose to notice and value life around them and live in gratitude, live transformational lives. In my research with transformational leaders who had endured adversity and hardship that led to traumatic impacts, it became clear that one of the ways these leaders live in Resonance—that inner awakening that keeps them focused on identity and purpose—is by valuing life NOW. These leaders are working for transformation in the most difficult of social change circumstances, and common to them all is the ability to value life. This reminder struck me deeply as I recently listened to Angela Davis and Gina Dent talking about their journey with their co-authors to writing Abolition Feminism NOW. In summary, they noted that while the work of abolition is a journey, the work of radically transforming our world requires that we insist on experiences of joy and freedoms NOW and keep those in focus as we work towards a positive future.

I describe this characteristic of Living from Resonance in my book, Transformation After Trauma as follows:

Value of Life. Value of life defines a sense of sacredness for human existence and respect for the life of others.  It entails valuing of life on a level at which being alive is no longer taken for granted. The Transformational Leaders I interviewed described this theme through concepts of living in the moment, worrying about nothing, and enjoying the existential experience of being. Resonance after their experiences ignited a place for inner humility, respect and tolerance for all people, and servant leadership. A deep value was placed on people and relationships over material existence. They described this as a need to ensure that human dignity is not lost to inhumane acts such as they [had] experienced…

There are many practices for valuing life, but central to all of them is the ability to pause, to notice and to express gratitude for what we already have, the present moments, relationships, nature…whatever helps us navigate the hardships of now. It’s no wonder that practices such as happiness and gratitude journals became so popular when they came into collective consciousness. But this practice is not meant to be a fad. It is meant to support a sustained lifestyle of living in ways that allows us to pause, to notice, to be grateful and to carry forward with the intention of creating more moments to be grateful for as we radically transform our world together. No matter what is going on in the world around you:

What are you paying attention to in our world now?

What do you most notice?

What practice do you engage to help you pause?

What are you grateful for NOW?

What possible future does your gratitude call you to keep creating NOW?