Stop thinking of gratitude as a byproduct of your circumstances and start thinking of it as a world view.– Bryan Robles
Remember when you were little and getting the mail was actually exciting? Remember skipping from the mailbox, letter held high, anticipation building? Within the envelope existed the possibility of a note from a grandparent with a $5 bill, an invitation to a friend’s birthday party or maybe even a note from a distant pen pal.
Ah, those were the days.
But getting mail isn’t quite as fun anymore, is it? With the vast majority of it either junk or bills, there’s certainly no reason to skip through the house holding it up high!
Late last week, however, I received a bright envelope with my name handwritten on it and a few hearts drawn on it. Finally, something to hold up high.
My sister Amy wrote the letter. She wanted to acknowledge the 33rd anniversary of the day I was burned. She was with me in the front yard as our home burned down, smoke went up, and panic set in. She was the one that held me as we waited for the ambulance, reassuring me it would be OK and praying she was right.
In her letter, Amy wrote about having gratitude I survived, gratitude for the life I enjoy today and gratitude for being part of it.
As deeply moving as the letter was, perhaps my favorite part was the end: “By the way, encouraged by your podcast – I’ve written two thank you letters per day, every day this year. Sharing love and gratitude with others!”
It made me think of various letters of gratitude I’ve received and the way it always makes me feel. I also reflected on stories from others who were impacted by sharing gratitude. One of the most memorable examples occurred after a speaking event several years ago.
At the end of a healthcare conference, a woman named Janet shared the pain of losing her fiancé just 13 months earlier in a tragic accident. She spoke not only of the pain of losing her best friend but of an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the love and kindness from others. Remarkable. She told me her faith had been revived, she’d rediscovered who she was and was striving to make a difference.
I asked Janet how she continues so optimistically after a massive loss.
Early in her grief she read about someone who wrote one thank you letter every day and the profoundly positive impact on the author’s life. For more than a year, Janet did that exact same thing.
“Every day I write a thank you letter to someone who has done something kind for me and positively touched my life. It could be a patient, a friend, the lady in the cafeteria, whoever. You see, it forces me to look for goodness each day in others; to celebrate it when I see it.”
Janet concluded by sharing that although her pain remains agonizingly real, in light of all the gifts she encounters each day, she feels extraordinarily blessed.
In the midst of impeachment trials and market changes and family issues and personal struggles, can you imagine a better view of your own life than sincerely feeling extraordinarily blessed?
My friends, heartache, tragedies, setbacks and letdowns are experiences we all endure. Thankfully, true gratitude is not a byproduct of our circumstances.
Let’s look around at the world through a lens that demands to see beauty, peace and joy. I firmly believe that real happiness and joy are more frequently revealed than achieved.
And there is no better way to ensure it is revealed than to take inventory of all the gifts we already possess.
All research suggests that the very act of writing a letter of gratitude will elevate your life. And personal experience at the mailbox suggests the letter will certainly elevate the life of someone you send it to.
Today, choose to see your life and the world as the remarkable gift it is. Begin by thanking a loved one for being a big reason why you feel the way you do. [Click to tweet.]
This is your day. Live Inspired.