Dear Why Team member,
I hope this weeks message finds you well and grateful. This week we ask:
Why have a Gratitude List?
When is the last time you appreciated all you have from material to spiritual? Recently, I saw a man wheel-chairing through the Seattle airport. He had no legs and no hands and was turning the wheels of his chair with what was left of his arms. There were scars and burns, most likely not only the visible ones; God knows what he has been through.
He was at baggage claim. He managed to grab his backpack and throw it onto his back - all on his own. By his precise moves, it looked as if he was pretty comfortable in his actions. What I perceived as abnormal, was normal to him.
How quickly we all can take our immense blessings for granted. He was a living inspiration for me, and I doubt I will ever forget him. How many of us, much more fortunate than him, live the life of a victim? It is so easy to live, “woe is me.” And even if sometimes we remember to be grateful for what we are fortunate to have had and have now, could keeping our fortunes front of mind help us grow more? Sure, and keeping a daily gratitude list is a very important life-long discipline. Otherwise, the human mind tends to overly focus on what is missing in our lives, rather than on what is abundantly present.
I started a daily gratitude list many years ago and share its importance at the end of almost every speech. It has helped me immensely to rewire my brain. It’s not uncommon for me to be brought to tears when I think of how blessed I have been. Have I had my troubles and tragedies, yes, everyone has, but they have grown me, humbled me and developed me in ways I could not have developed without them. It is often very hard to view life as happening for us, rather than to us, but if we are determined to be of service to ourselves and others, it is our very struggles and difficulties that can be paths for our greatest growth and open us to new-found meaning; such as helping others to cope during similar difficulties.
Another memorable encounter with a wheel-chair-bound man took place after a speech I gave in New Jersey many years ago. I got to sit with him for a while and learned that he had lost the use of his legs from a childhood accident involving a trampoline. But he said to me with eyes of joy that God had taken his ability to walk so that he could fly.
His positivity on life struck a chord then and now as I retell his story.
It is people like these two, I believe, that can help us the most to live more rewarding and fulfilling lives of meaning and purpose.
Every morning I add to my gratitude list. I review the day before and list the names of the people with whom I had the opportunity to interact. I start writing everything that comes to mind, often opening with my gratitude for waking up. My wife and children, my friends and colleagues. There really is no limit to the list of things in which we can be grateful; and if you find yourself struggling, it’s been my experience that that is when I need most to put forth the effort to remember my blessings and take the step forward.
We can’t serve from an empty cup. It’s up to us to fill our own cup with gratitude if we are to be more generous and loving toward others. So many of us suffer from cups run dry, waiting for others and circumstances to fill them up - the result? Many become frustrated and bitter.
Is your cup full?
Is it overflowing into the lives of others?
If not, why not?
Very few of my audience members raise their hands when I ask who has a daily gratitude list - but those who do, seem to carry a different countenance about themselves and almost always have a story of extreme difficulty that led them to the daily practice. Don’t wait until life gets harder to lighten your load with gratitude.
Consider a daily gratitude list.
If you already leverage this discipline, please encourage others, all the more, to do the same. And if you don’t leverage this daily discipline, consider a commitment to it, daily, for six weeks and see if your view of the world, your attitude, and your health doesn’t improve.
Don’t knock it till you try it.
Today, I am especially grateful for you and your membership in the Why Team. I am grateful for the man in the Seattle airport, and I hope this week’s message will be worthy of gratitude for you.
Make it a great week!