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.