Last issue, I wrote about the power of developing an "attitude of appreciation" ["The Ultimate Prospecting Strategy," Networking Times, July/August 2004]. This issue, I thought I'd follow up on that theme by offering some specific exercises and guidelines for how to pursue this lofty and immensely practical goal.

Your Keyword...Everywhere
For one entire week, focus on gratitude and appreciation for everything in your life.

To help you do this, write yourself reminders. You can write that one word--we'll call it your keyword--"appreciation" or "gratitude," on index cards and put them up all over your house or office. Or, write your keyword on sticky notes and post them everywhere you'll be throughout the day: on every telephone, in your bedroom, on your bathroom mirror. On your computer. On your car's steering wheel. On your fridge. On your dog. Wherever you know you'll see it.

Every time you see one of your notes, ask yourself, "What do I have to be grateful for, right at this moment?"

For instance, as I type at this computer keyboard (for which I'm grateful), I appreciate that some human being with a lot more technical savvy than I have was able to figure out how to take a bunch of zeros and ones and somehow create a computer--and that with this amazing device, there are so many things possible that before we couldn't even imagine doing. I can send an email off to friends or associates in Japan and it will take just seconds to arrive!

I'm grateful that the keys of the keyboard are so wonderfully crafted.

That the screen is big enough to easily display the characters.

That I have functional eyesight with which to see those characters.

For one solid week, focus on appreciating everything! You'll be amazed at the feeling you have at the end of that week.

Wisdom of the Sages
According to Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, "Every single day we experience hundreds of minor pleasures in both the material and spiritual aspects of our lives. We can learn to focus on these common occurrences and recognize the kindness of the Almighty."

He suggests, as an exercise in appreciation, to try for just one hour to feel grateful for every single thing you find yourself doing.

When you read, be grateful you can see and read.

When you walk, be grateful for the use of your feet.

When you talk, be grateful for the ability to communicate with others.

For a full hour, don't let yourself take even the smallest action for granted. Be aware of every detail of every action you can take. Anyone who does this daily for even a short time will have a much greater appreciation for everything he does.

And if you can do it for an hour, you can do it for a day.

If you can do it for a day, you can do it for a week.

By the way, the Sages taught another exercise for having gratitude: imagine yourself not having some of the above.

For example, imagine that you lost your eyesight, your hearing, your ability to speak, to feel with your hands, to smell or taste food. Imagine you lost your home. Now, one by one, imagine getting all of these back--and consider how grateful you would be for each and every one! Do try this: it's quite powerful. It evokes a whole new level of appreciation for those things we often tend to take for granted.

The World in a Cup of Coffee
Here's an object lesson in gratitude: When you drink your next cup of coffee, think about what it took to bring that coffee to your lips.

Is it Colombian coffee? If so, someone in Colombia had to grow the coffee beans. For that to happen, all different kinds of equipment had to be manufactured, sold to a wholesaler, then a retailer, then bought and used. The grower had to do the work of harvesting it, which probably took the efforts of many people. Then it was sold to a middleman, who shipped it to the States.

The airplane or ship that transported the beans had to be built by many, many people; for that to happen, first the parts had to be designed, built, tested, put together and sold through their own channels of distribution.

Once the beans arrived in the States, they were sent to a wholesaler; he or she had to make sure they were properly blended and cared for; then they were sent to a coffee broker or food broker; and from there, dispersed to the various stores. Those stores had to be built, one by one, with lots of equipment, all manufactured and sold by myriads more people. Finally, the store hired, trained and employed personnel, who sold you the coffee.

But let's say you didn't buy it to take home; let's say you bought a fresh cup, brewed right there at the store. The store staff first had to brew the coffee, which took a coffee machine--now repeat the entire genesis of manufacturing with regard to the machine, with all its various parts and elements being independently designed and built before being put together, and sold through various channels until it finally arrived at the store where you bought the coffee.

And of course, it's poured into a cup--where did the cup come from? Repeat the whole process.

Perhaps you put a splash of milk or cream in it. Let's see: first the cows had to be birthed, bought, then milked. The milk was put into a crate where it was processed, pasteurized, contained, then shipped to a wholesaler...and it goes on and on.

Did you add a teaspoon of sugar? Imagine all the people working in the cane fields, and everyone in the entire chain from the field to your spoon.

And by the way, what about that spoon?

Can you even begin to imagine the gigantic edifice of human industry, ingenuity and activity that had to come together flawlessly--just so you could have that "insignificant" morning cuppa java? How much appreciation would one need to muster to do justice to all that!

Now...add in everything else that happens in your day.

is author of
Endless Referrals and The Success Formula.