"Now, I have found that I cannot predict the stock market except over very long periods. I cannot tell you when the housing bubble will burst - only that it will burst. I cannot tell you when the dollar will stop rallying - only that it will stop. So I cannot tell you anything that, in a few minutes, will tell you how to be rich. But I can tell you how to feel rich, which is far better, let me tell you firsthand, than being rich.
Be grateful." Ben Stein 6.5.05
The art of appreciating and expressing our true gratitude for what others do and what we have achieved seems to be waning. Especially in times like these, there is a perceived necessity to become more selfish and less concerned about others. Gratitude for our declining share of we want can seem misplaced when our unrealistic goals are not being met.
When I was working at Big Brothers Big Sisters, we started an event called the Big Thank You. It is an event where all of the little brothers and sisters write a note of appreciation to their mentors. These notes are published and delivered at an event celebrating the mentorships. While the event is focused on teaching the mentees gratitude, the mentors seem to get the most out of it. Not just because they are thanked officially, but because they are reminded of what this relationship has done for them to become better parents, managers, and friends through mentoring. Almost every mentor I have ever encountered has said that they got more out of the relationship than the targeted mentee. Saying thank you always benefits both.
There is ample scientific and empirical data to suggest that re-committing ourselves to the gratitude attitude will only yield dividends. A longitudinal study conducted by researchers at UC Davis and the University of Miami called aptly, the Research Project on Gratitude and Thankfulness has recorded many insightful findings:
- People who record gratitude lists enjoy more success.
- Grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism and lower levels of depression and stress. They are rated as more generous and more helpful by people in their social networks.
- People with a strong disposition toward gratitude have the capacity to be empathic and to take the perspective of others.
- Grateful individuals place less importance on material goods; they are less likely to judge their own and others success in terms of possessions
Take a few moments and make deposits into your Thank Bank:
By pausing and reflecting for a few moments you will see that the glass is not half empty. But the glass itself is more beautiful than you recall and it is filled with so much good that we have taken for granted or forgotten. And by connecting and re-connecting with people you care about and expressing your gratitude, you will be inject that warm feeling for them you have into their hearts. Gratitude is one of those gifts that benefits us all.
- Think about your blessings this year, even amongst your hardships. Things that you feel fortunate to have and to have experienced. Write down three of them. Read them and appreciate your gifts.
- Think of people who continue to be there for you and have provided you with support, moral and financial. People whose friendship, love and care make a difference in your life. Write down their names. Tell these people what they mean to you.
- Think of people in your life whose lessons and teachings continue to make a difference in your life today. People who mentored you. These may be folks you have not contacted for years, but every so often you think about them . Write down three of their names. Reach out to them, make a call, e-mail them and express your gratitude.
- Think about the things you have accomplished so far this year. Things you know made a difference in your life and in the life of others. Things that may not have been recognized or earned you distinction, but in your heart these things mattered. Write down three. Remember what you do is important and valuable.
As our turkey dinners are being prepared and families and friends gather for our annual tradition, lets take inventory of the cornucopia of things for which we are grateful. And then, express in our own way, to ourselves and to our unique human support networks--Thank you!
Got this message a couple of days ago from a reader:
I have been following your blog and have been floored with the great take-aways you have been sharing with everyone. I firmly believe the knowledge you are sharing is game-changing, if applied. Again, thank you for sharing your knowledge and please keep up the good work! Aden
I am truly grateful that anyone reads my stuff. :) Nothing is more powerful than getting a message that affirms you or your actions.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for Giving Thanks. John