The Power of Gratitude

Of all the attributes successful people possess few are more important than a grateful heart.

Back in my days of working with the Dale Carnegie Organization there was a 50 something guy in one of our classes who looked very successful. He obviously had money, drove his choice of the many fancy cars he owned. He had houses (notice I didn’t say homes) around the world in which he could live comfortably. At first glance he appeared to have it all.

But it was never enough. He was one of the most unhappy and “relationship poor” people I had ever met.

The stories he told were in stark contrast to the ones told by a 30 something guy with 5 kids. It seemed as if every example from the younger man was laced with struggles and challenges that the older man knew nothing about. His stories were also filled with something else missing from the older man’s…a grateful heart.

He appreciated the opportunity every challenge presented him. He appreciated the chance to learn and overcome obstacles which he knew would better prepare him for the future. He found “the silver lining” in every cloud.

It was in that particular 12 week Dale Carnegie course that I learned about the true power of gratefulness.

The older, more successful appearing man in the 12 week program knew nothing of his gifts. He knew little of his actual strengths, and he had long ago surrendered his power to be happy.

The younger man’s thoughts were focused on appreciating what he had, not what he wanted. He was thankful for what he was able to earn. Thankful for his God given gifts that made it possible for him to support his family. Thankful for his one overcrowded home in a modest neighborhood and I suspect thankful every time his 20 year old car actually started.

He was happy and as far as he was concerned, one of the richest people on earth.

Now I ask you…which of those two men was the most successful?

You may find this difficult to believe if you find yourself struggling. You will find it hard to believe if you’re a “keeping up with the Joneses” type person. But your greatest happiness is within you, not in chasing what you’re without.

Practice gratefulness each day. Absolutely work hard for your dreams but make time each day to also appreciate what you already have.

If you find it hard to be grateful for what you have today it’s very likely you’ll find it just as hard to be grateful for what you may have tomorrow. It has been my experience that an ungrateful heart is also an unhappy one.

“Things” will never make you happy but the power of gratitude most certainly will. If nothing else, be grateful for that.

Thanksgiving Is Better as a Verb

Once a year the United States stops for a day to give thanks. That day of thanks is known as Thanksgiving Day. In the English language Thanksgiving is used as a name therefore it’s a noun.

 

But in a twist that causes great confusion for people attempting to learn the English language “Thanksgiving” is also an action which means it’s a verb. 

 

Which one is it for you? Is Thanksgiving a day you don’t have to work or is thanksgiving something you do?

 

Stopping for a day to reflect on all we have to be thankful for is fine but living a life full of thankfulness is better. The challenge is, at least for me, is that we take soooooo much for granted. 

 

The fact that a day is set aside to give thanks somehow seems to make it okay to give thanks one day a year. But we all know that’s not okay. So here’s an idea….

 

Since smartphones are such a big part of our life let’s use them to help us remember to live a life of thankfulness. When I open the calendar on my iPhone it says “Thanksgiving Day” on only one day a year. 

 

I’m going to scatter “Thanksgiving Day” throughout the year on my calendar. I’m going to use that device I look at many times a day to remind myself that Thanksgiving is best when it’s a verb and not merely a noun. I’d add Thanksgiving to everyday except for the fact that if I saw it everyday it wouldn’t be long before I didn’t even notice it anymore. 

 

I’d never presume to tell you what you have to be thankful for but I am certain that no matter your situation you have many things and people if your life that you would miss horribly if they were gone. 


Be thankful for them!


The Lost Art of Thank You Notes

So, in my last post I wrote about saying “Thank You.” As powerful as a sincere verbal thank you can be it’s magnified tenfold when it’s written down. So I want to take my last post a step further and suggest that you do more than merely say thank you, I’d encourage you to at least occasionally write your “Thank You” down, like in a note, with a pen, handwritten. Just like the old days.

 

I know that seems really old fashioned to a whole lot of people reading this and it may seem like a huge waste of time when you can just send a quick email or an even quicker text. But I assure you, it’s anything but a waste of time. 

 

You may think taking the extra five minutes to hand write a card and toss it in the mail (for those of you who have never done this “the mail” is those blue kinda curvy topped boxes you see sitting on street corners here and there) is a waste of time but I’m betting big time that if you received one you wouldn’t think it was a waste of time at all. You would appreciate, maybe greatly appreciate, the extra effort it took the person to send it to you. 

 

There was a time when I frequently suggested to people that they send 7 Thank You cards a week. I used to do that religiously; I’ve somehow gotten away from that and it’s truly a shame. People used to comment to me all the time about how much they appreciated the thoughtfulness. 

 

I still send a fair amount of “Thank You’s,” I just do it by email and I almost never hear a word about thoughtfulness. 

 

So I just went and bought a box of Thank You Notes (it was nice to see they still sell them in stores) and a book of stamps. It’s positively retro! I’m going to start slow and commit to sending one a week, every week. I’ll try to do more but over-committing is a sure way to kill any momentum I might develop.

 

Will you join me in rediscovering this lost art? No one’s handwriting is worse than mine so don’t try using that as an excuse; like those Nike people say… Just do it!


My grandfather used to sell cards in his store, I still remember a sign by the cards he sold. It said “Costs so little yet means so much.” Those words still hold true today; make a difference in someone’s life today, drop them a note and let them know they matter.