Lesson of the Week

Thankful: Each day I show appreciation and express gratitude

Look at what was in this restaurant glass – a fish!  Read more.

This wasn’t a real fish.  It was the image of a fish that  appeared when the candlelight reflected off cracks in an ice cube.  The cracks formed the image.  What fun the guests had recognizing there can be more to a glass of water than just H2O atoms.

Gratitude is the light that shines and reveals hidden images in your life. Gratitude reveals those mysteries and details that point you to success on your mission.  Gratitude is appreciation, recognition, acknowledgement.    Being thankful reveals opportunity, hope, happiness, zest, and a future to any kind of day.  Choose gratitude and watch your self and your mission thrive.

Look at some of the research showing the positive effects of gratitude:

1.  McCullough, Kilpatrick, Emmons, and Larson write gratitude has an affect on emotion that encourages good behaviors in both the person expressing gratitude and the beneficiary of the grateful heart.  (Is Gratitude a Moral Affect? Psychological Bulletin, vol. 127(2) pp. 249-266 2001)

2.  Dr. Robert Emmons reported that the subjects who kept a gratitude journal had improved well-being and behaviors such as goal setting. One of the most important findings was that people who kept gratitude journals were “more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals”.  A summary can be found by clicking on this Emmons Report URL.

3.  Louie Schwartzberg made this impressive video touting the benefits of gratitude.  The words and voice are those of Brother David Steindl-Rast:  Click this link on YouTube.com to watch the short inspiring award winning video on gratitude.

4.  Park, Peterson, and Seligman studied character strengths in forty nations and fifty states in the United States.  Gratitude was rated in the top five of personal strengths.  Gratitude had a positive effect in both experimental and correlational outcomes studies.  Gratitude may be essential as a route to effecting lasting well being.  Click here to see the research details.

Here is a short story about how gratitude kept one person on track.  Her mission was to keep peace in her home and community.  However, there was a bully in her neighborhood.  He was causing an uproar.  She attempted and failed to stop the bullying.

One evening there was a heated argument with the bully and she returned home frustrated and hopeless.  Her first inclination was to give up trying to bring about peace.  Up to now, she had only attacked the problem with negative criticism and aggression.

The only thing she hadn’t done was to think about the bully from a more positive standpoint.  There were his crude remarks; his negative attitude in the community; his rudeness.  But what else was in the “glass”?  What light could she shine on the situation to reveal more?  Her response was to sit and be grateful for this situation.

Sound Pollyanna-ish?  But what else was there to do?  The one thing she had not done was be positive and grateful.  It was worth a try.

Her thoughts went something like this:  “I’m grateful he wants to be involved in the community.  I’m grateful he maintains his property.  I’m grateful he drives safely.”  Her thought shifted from distain and des-pair to realizing his life was teeming with positive qualities needed in the community.

The next day, she saw the bully.  Her attitude of gratitude had transformed her.  She had prepared him a gift, which she gave to him.  From that time on, the bullying decreased and her mission of peace was fulfilled.

There was a secondary gain to this story.  While being grateful for this man, she smelled a fire.  She leapt to her feet and ran to her son’s room.  The curtains were  on fire.  The babysitter had just left and put a high intensity light too close to the infant’s bedroom curtain.  The mother saved her baby.  The fire was put out.  That moment of gratitude the night before had changed the whole trajectory of both lives.

Just the act of sitting and being grateful had had an impact that would not have occurred if she had stomped up to bed in anger.  Pausing in gratitude for a moment had put her near the child’s bedroom where she was needed to save his life.  What could gratitude do for you and your mission?

Every day be thankful, show appreciation, and express gratitude.  An adage of the age is that gratitude is riches and complaint is poverty.  This has been quoted in books, sung in hymns, and used as a mantra during crises.  Gratitude can bring richness to your mission — richness of ideas, resources, income, and outcome.

Before falling asleep each night, take the worst part of the day and bombard it with ideas of gratitude such as:  “I didn’t get the job, but I’m still grateful that I can walk and talk and look for another one tomorrow.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue my search and find someone who needs my skills.”  This appreciation will be the light that will enable you to see more than the “just expected” or  water in the glass, but also the creative unseen next-to-come opportunities that will make your mission both fun and successful.

Quote

Keep your eyes open to your mercies. The man who forgets to be thankful has fallen asleep in life.

- Rober Louis Stevenson, Scottish novelist and poet

Activity

Activity:  Stock of Goods

Materials:  Lined paper and pen or pencil

Time:  Ten minutes to write and ten minutes for each person to discuss their results

Instruction:

1.  Draw a line down the center of a piece of lined paper.  Title the first column, “What I am grateful for”.  Title the second, “How I express gratitude for this item”.

2.  In the first column, number and make a list of things for which you are grateful.

3.  In the second column, write how you express gratitude for each item you listed in the first column.

4.  Choose five of your answers and discuss them in the group.

5.  Before you go to sleep each night, express gratitude for five things.  You can do this by keeping a written journal or simply by taking a mental account.  Determine how this changes your life and mission.

Affirmation

I am thankful so I can …… We’d like to hear your story about being able to show appreciation and express gratitude. Write your story below.

2 Comments

  1. how do you appreciate life?

    Reply

  2. Barbara Sheets 09/17/12
    5:52 pm

    Gratitude has always been a favorite attitude of mine. My life has always felt better when I take a moment to turn away from negativity and focus on something good that is going on and usually I find that the good exponentially outnumbers whatever bad things are happening. On some of my worst days I have looked outside and upon seeing the birds outside the window I have felt grateful for their energy and joy. The joys of nature are everyone’s to appreciate and enjoy and I can always be grateful for this resource. I try to show my appreciation for the birds by providing them food and shelter in my yard and they return the favor many times over!

    Reply

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