Jay Rifenbary

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Be Thankful for the Little Things

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What brings a smile to your face? Is it a smile from another, a kind gesture from your child, a hug from those you love, a playful moment with your pet, a warm fire, a good book, or just the recognition that with each day you can find joy in the simplest of things? Life is not meant to be easy. If it was, there would be little to be thankful for. It is through overcoming the trials, tribulations and anxieties of life that provides the many reasons to be thankful. Without struggle how do you know when you succeed?

A positive attitude is key to being thankful, for without an optimistic belief in the future of your life, your family, and humanity you cannot recognize the goodness that surrounds you. As a result, you will find little to be thankful for. As the French novelist Alphonse Karr stated, “Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.”

Humility is another component to becoming more thankful. To acknowledge and engage in the positive qualities of others, will add to the quality of your own life. Your greatest experiences of joy and sadness are usually shared with and involve others. The birth of a child, the death of a loved one, the misery of failure, and the fulfillment of success are just small pieces of the sphere of life experiences that involve those you care for and love. To be grateful for others is the foundation for a grateful life. As Charles Dickens said, “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another.” There is no perfectly functional person, family or life, and if you believe there are you are naïve and denying reality. We all have our dysfunctions, issues, emotional anxieties and personality abnormalities; and that is what makes each and every one of us wonderful. Celebrate and be thankful for the uniqueness in you that may be different than others, and embrace the uniqueness in others that may be different than you.

One of the questions I ask my seminar participants during the course of a presentation is, “How do you motivate others?” The answer is, “You make people feel valued.” Subsequently I select a person from the group and ask the attendees who may know this person to share a characteristic of their leadership style or their personality that inspires others to look up to them and respect them? Without hesitation I receive responses from the audience directed toward the person I randomly selected that describe many of the wonderful characteristics that person possesses. More than not, there are grateful emotions and even tears displayed by the recipient in appreciation for the kind comments and feedback shared. What the participants did was to make that person feel valued. It is a wonderful and heartwarming exercise.

Take the time around the dinner table to make those you love feel valued. Let each family member share a beautiful and genuine characteristic of a fellow family member, in-law, friend or significant other that they believe inspires others to look up to them and respect them. The characteristics and attributes shared will be forever appreciated and remembered by those who are on the receiving end of those comments. The things that bring happiness are not complicated, but rather simple in nature. They are the kind behaviors, thoughts and words displayed in appreciation for those you care about that bring about the greatest sense of fulfillment and joy to others.

Tecumseh, a Native American leader of the Shawnee, orator, and respected by ally and enemy alike said, “When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.” There will always be problems for it is the reality of living, so give thanks for the little blessings you do have and be grateful for those who love you and those you love. Make your life a grateful pleasure party not an unappreciated pity party.



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