A man had a habit of grumbling at the food his wife placed before him at family meals. Then he would ask the blessing. One day after his usual combination complaint-prayer, his little girl asked, “Daddy, does God hear us when we pray?”
“Why, of course,” he replied. “He hears us every time we pray.”
She paused on this a moment, and asked, “Does He hear everything we say the rest of the time?”
“Yes, dear, every word,” he replied, encouraged that he had inspired his daughter to be curious about spiritual matters. However, his pride was quickly turned to humility at his daughter’s next question.
“Then, which does God believe?”
EXPRESSING THANKS BRINGS OUT THE BEST IN US.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year. Not just because I'm surrounded by spectacular cooks who create some of my favorite dishes or round the clock football games. It is also the time of the year where we take time to say thank you and think of all we are grateful for. I’m very thankful for a loving wife I enjoy spending time with, a great staff to take care of things when I am gone and wonderful friends and clients who are very supportive of efforts to rejuvenate and recharge our batteries so that our work days are more fruitful.
As time goes on, especially when I take time to reflect on what I am grateful for, I find myself enjoying my family, my friends, my clients, my team members and my work activities increasingly. Being able to delegate the items that are not as enjoyable or are not my strengths tends to improve our service. It's funny how some people love and are great at things that we might enjoy less.
Giving thanks also helps us focus on how far we have come and what we have going for us rather than comparing to an arbitrary ideal and fretting over the fact that we have not reached perfection yet. When we are continually focused on progress instead of perfection and give ourselves time to think over how much we can be grateful for, life has so much more joy.
One of the most powerful favors you can do for yourself is expressing authentic gratitude. Yes, that sounds counter-intuitive especially during this season of Thanksgiving. Isn’t saying thanks a gift to the other person?
Think again. Authentic gratitude is a deep benefit to everyone involved.
OUR BRAINS ON GRATITUDE
According to experts who study gratitude and its effect on our ability to survive and thrive, when we say thanks, we program our brain to see positive change.
“When we intentionally and steadily cultivate a practice of gratitude for the people and processes that sustain our life, we expand our perception of our experience back out of a narrow, contracted, survival mode… to a more expansive, more optimistic perspective, where we can again discern options and possibilities,” said Linda Graham, author of Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being. “Resilience is a reliably measurable outcome of cultivating positive emotions such as gratitude.”
A few years back, after hearing from Happiness Recipe author Shawn Achor in a conference, we even created our own internal gratitude procedures within our office. For more on this, please feel free to click one of the links above.
There is so much all of us can be thankful for. We just need to be in the right frame of mind. It's amazing how much better we feel and how much more productive we are when we develop a positive mindset. Some of my favorite quotes on gratitude are included below:
- "Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough." -Oprah Winfrey
- "No one who achieves success does so without acknowledging the help of others. The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude." -Alfred North Whitehead
- "We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction." -H.A. Ironside
- "The way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement." -Charles Schwab
- "Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." -William Arthur Ward
- "Silent gratitude isn't very much use to anyone." -Gertrude Stein
- "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." -John F. Kennedy
- "Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses." -Alphonse Karr
- "Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well." -Voltaire
- “So much has been given to me that I have no time to ponder that which I don't have.” -Helen Keller
Joe D. Franklin, CFP is Founder and President of Franklin Wealth Management, and CEO of Innovative Advisory Partners, a registered investment advisory firm in Hixson, Tennessee. A 20+year industry veteran, he contributes guest articles for Money Magazine and authors the Franklin Backstage Pass blog. Joe has also been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger's Magazine, USA Today and other publications.
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