As 2022 comes to a close and I reflect on the year, “gratitude” is one word that stands out.  Gratitude can present itself in a variety of ways, both personally and professionally.  Sometimes it presents itself immediately and sometimes it is a little harder to recognize and appreciate the moments in real time we should be grateful for.

On a personal level, I have so much to be grateful for. One of the big events that occurred this year was that my younger sister got married. In that process, she, and her (now husband) were looking for someone to officiate their wedding. I was asked if I would take on that responsibility. I was hesitant at first as it wasn’t something that had ever even crossed my mind.  My typical role in a wedding was either as a groomsman, a family member, or friend in the audience who was there to celebrate.  In other words, I’d never taken an active role on any occasion such as this, let alone something so important for my sister!

Nonetheless, after giving it some thought, I decided I would take on the role and told them I would do it.  To be honest, I was rather flattered they would ask me, but at the same time, I was nervous to be standing in front of an audience of close to 100 people leading such an important ceremony!

As we got closer to the big day, I rehearsed the wedding script, carefully picked out my attire, and did my best to act calm and collected.  I knew I was prepared, but I still couldn’t quite shake the nerves.  I kept thinking about all the things that could go wrong.  What if I messed up a line?  What if the audience couldn’t hear me?  What if I talked too fast?  Could they have picked someone better suited for the role?

Well, the day finally arrived, and I walked up and stood in front of the crowd.  I was looking down at my notes, mentally preparing.   The music began playing and I looked up.  When I looked out into the crowd, I saw a large group that included family and friends that I known for a long time, some of which I had known my entire life.  Everyone was happy and smiling back at me.  It was in that moment that all nerves instantly calmed down and I felt a peaceful feeling come over me.  I was no longer nervous, I was grateful.  I was grateful as I realized that no one would care if I flubbed a line or wasn’t perfect.  For starters, the day wasn’t about me, it was about the couple getting married.  Secondly, as I looked out into the audience, I saw a group of people that would provide unconditional support and encouragement and I couldn’t help but feel extreme feelings of gratitude.  Needless to say, things went off without a hitch!

People dancing at a wedding

I learned a lesson about gratitude that day.  Gratitude isn’t simply a feeling, but an attitude, action, mindset, or behavior one can bring to any situation.   Approaching scary situations from a place of gratitude can absolutely impact my own perception on that situation.  When coming from a place of gratitude, scary situations no longer feel as scary.