A Way of Life
Thankfulness, gratitude, and gratefulness: three words to describe a characteristic, a personality trait, and a way of living.
People who live with an attitude of gratitude are known to live longer, sleep better, and have increased productivity and happier lives.
For much of my life, I would have told you that people are thankful when they are happy, things are going well, and life is good.
But then I met people who seemingly unraveled a mystery:
- The elderly woman in a nursing home who was in a great deal of pain. But you wouldn’t know it. She couldn’t stop smiling and thanking me for the visit.
- The middle-aged man who recently lost his job, his home and his family. Instead of bitterness, he was focused on thanking the people who offered him food and a place to stay.
- The up-and-coming leader I hired who thanked me again and again for the job. Instead of an egotistical response, knowing his qualifications, he must have thanked me a dozen times for the opportunity.
As we think about gratitude, I think of the spirit inside these people. I realized that I could not predict someone’s attitude based on circumstances. I would meet someone who was wealthy beyond belief, but that person was miserable. Someone else would win a major award and shrug off compliments, grumbling that it was not good enough.
Did thankfulness allow the woman to live longer?
Did the middle-aged man end up more successful based on his attitude?
Did the up-and-coming leader create success in his life because of his thankfulness?
Does gratitude help fuel success? My opinion is that it does. It seems to play a major role in happiness, health, and prosperity. The order is more often gratitude first, then success and not success first, then gratitude.
“A spirit of thankfulness attracts others to your cause, ideas and goals.” -Skip Prichard
Here are a few tips I have learned from those who are truly grateful. These people are thankful:
That means in the morning and during bad weather. It seems that losing our health makes us more grateful if we get it back. Losing money makes us thankful for a small savings account. The death of a family member causes us to savor the sweetness of the surviving members.
With small things.
It’s not the major accomplishments; it’s the smallest, almost unnoticeable daily events. It’s being thankful for the smell of a flower or when your football team wins a point.
“When you appreciate the insignificant, you attract the significant.” -Skip Prichard
And express it.
They aren’t quiet about it. These people seem to radiate a spirit of thankfulness, sharing it with others. With a generous spirit, they seem to draw out the best in others. We want to give more to those who are grateful.
“Feeling gratitude, and not expressing it, is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” –William Ward
On more than one occasion, I have heard, “I choose to be thankful,” or “I was raised to be grateful.” Gratitude is a choice.
And have often experienced life’s most difficult challenges.
The truly thankful often have experiences that shape this attitude.
“Living through the Great Depression makes me appreciate such a wonderful meal!”
“I’m so glad that I am able to walk at all. It’s OK that I limp and use a cane!”
“Having a family that loves me so much is a miracle when you’ve lived in the dysfunction that I have!”
These are comments I have heard, making me realizing that we are most grateful for life’s mountaintops when we have experienced life’s valleys.
“We are most grateful for life’s mountaintops when we have experienced life’s valleys.” -Skip Prichard
Cultivating a spirit of thankfulness may not come naturally to all of us, but it is certainly a factor for a happier, more satisfying life.