GRADITUDE: What You Give For Getting

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Compared to many people, I have a blessed life. Oh, yes, I’ve had heartaches, disappointments, illnesses, troubles, and a few traumas. But I’ve had so little practice at coping with great, big disasters. Thank you, God!

It’s been easy to take life for granted, thanking, but not wholly reflecting on God’s goodness, people’s favors, and even my own coincidental good fortune. What that has meant, I just discovered, is that I’ve missed the pleasure of realizing the value of being grateful.

To realize my fortunate life, it took a class for real estate professionals in which we’re learning how to more effectively serve our clients. In the class, the instructor assigned the homework of recording 5 gratitudes at the end of each day. The 2-week assignment meant I had to consciously and actively reflect on how I lived that day.

What a realization emerged!

After only 3 days of listing 5 gratitudes each day, I noticed how the big AND little acts make a difference to my attitude toward the next day’s work. I’m enjoying 2 outcomes after these 3 days that didn’t occur to me before listing graditudes.

First, I noticed that little — almost hidden — events meant as much as – sometimes more than – the big events. For example, I had never before expressed my appreciation for my clean, comfortable bed. The simple act of adding “clean bed” to my list made that small pleasure stand out as that moment’s vital event. The reflection evolved into thinking about my mother who taught me to make my bed. I recalled her sweet trick of pinning a safety pin at the horizontal center of the top sheet. That way she could match the center of the sheet to the center of the bed. I have done that all my life. And I taught my children to do it.

Second, I could feel the power of my confidence increasing. It felt like a strong puff of energy, surging, urging me to have more, do more, be more.

I was thrilled with the new feeling. I detected an increased sensitivity for others . . . making for easier, more relaxed listening. In these last few days, I’ve slowed down and focused more directly on the task, the issue, the person. I gave myself permission to use my time more attentively rather than hurrying through, feeling apologetic for taking too much of the other person’s time.

I felt increased confidence to risk being more nearly honest while continuing to maintain respect and courtesy. I could feel myself standing taller, walking with more purpose, initiating conversation with more people.

It has surprised me that awareness and the thankfulness of a few of life’s gifts can create such power in me. And how remarkable I could become when the gratefulness influences effectiveness.