image of a bubbling cauldron with the words hubble, bubble, toil & marketing written across it.Marketing was considered evil in the engineering company I grew up in. Over time, I’ve changed that belief and now have respect for marketing and marketing friends. 😊

Suzan is the opposite of evil. She’s in marketing, and I respect her and see her as a genuinely positive person. I’ve known her for over a decade, interacting with her occasionally in various professional associations. I was curious about her confidence and positivity, and when I talked to her, I learned it wasn’t always there; she worked hard at it. 

Suzan overcame many obstacles to become the person she is now, running her own business and empowering others to thrive. Hard work, persistence, education, and a positive attitude were critical to her success. 

She says that gratitude is simply acknowledging something good—the things that make her happy. Suzan likens gratitude to luck and finding things you can celebrate. Gratitude is when you can find something to be grateful for in circumstances outside your control. For example, you have no control over traffic, but you can use gratitude to turn your feelings about it around. “Traffic sucks . . . but I’m grateful I have a car. I’m grateful I have a client to visit in person. I’m grateful I started early.” Gratitude is found in how you react to and control what could be negative. The world is not miserable when you focus on gratitude. 

Suzan is not someone who thinks about or regularly practices gratitude. Instead, she uses her strong educational background and corporate organization skills to explain it. She says gratitude creates a positive spiral, but negative spirals are stronger. If one thing goes wrong, we naturally spiral into the negative, and it’s hard to get out. Changing the spiral to a positive one can take three to five positive thoughts, requiring a conscious choice. Negativity is deeply embedded in humans for self-preservation, which can keep us stuck. 

Naming five positive things out loud can turn around a negative spiral. It’s an important strategy for her, and she applies it personally and professionally.

Suzan was not always an authentically grateful person. She tells me she crawled through the mud to overcome an abusive childhood. She’s grateful she reconnected with her mom a few years before her mom passed away this last March, although they had a conflict-ridden relationship. Suzan exuded loving emotion when she told me the story about passing on a positivity tool to her mom that made a difference. One time, when they were together, her mom was being “a grump.” Suzan asked her mom to name five good things in her life. Her mother hesitated; it took her a long time to name them. Then, the next time they were together, Suzan asked her mom to perform the same exercise; this time, her mom answered faster. A few days before Suzan’s mom passed, she told Suzan, “I do that sometimes on my own, and it helps.” It’s never too late to embrace the positive things. 

Suzan observes that she and her twin overcame the obstacles in their lives. Her twin leans into her religious faith, which includes the practice of being grateful. For her part, Suzan referenced the book Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg as part of her practice to help her find joy and celebrate wins.

Sometimes, forgetting gratitude and getting stalled is easy due to a lack of confidence, anxiety, and/or worry. However, when you decide to do something new and different, it’s hard not to change. Stopping and remembering the wins, no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential, helps shift energy to positive forward movement and unblock what’s stuck. Suzan uses this technique when the feeling of not being good enough arises. She also uses it in some of the coaching groups she runs. By simply asking, “What do you have to celebrate?” she encourages all answers, small or large, and enables a shift to positive forward movement. 

Gratitude is reacting to things positively that are out of your control. What I did right today, no matter how small, summarizes Suzan’s belief about gratitude. 

  1. What is an example of reacting with gratitude to something out of your control?
  2. What do you do to shift out of a negative spiral?


Book: Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

More About Suzan:  About – SuzanCz

Video: Passive & Active Gratitude