“Stop thinking gratitude as a by product of your circumstances and start thinking of it as a world view.” B. Robles
Have you ever wondered why some individuals seem to enjoy a radically different and beautiful outlook on life? Why some people soar in spite of substantial challenges while others seem to succumb to seemingly incidental adversity? Yesterday provided a beautiful, practical and powerful example for me.
I’m spending this week facilitating leadership sessions for the SSM Health Care system. They want their teams to reconnect with passion, hurdle over adversity, and remember again that one committed person can make a profound difference. They also want their team to be grateful for today and their ability to do even more tomorrow.
With those expectations, one of the sessions I’m providing focuses on the power of gratitude. We discuss why it matters, what it looks like in action, what impact it has on the practitioner and those they serve, and how to tap into gratitude going forward. Yesterday, I asked for a volunteer to share a painful experience they had endured for which they were actually grateful.
As you might expect, the participants in the room weren’t exactly busting down the doors to share! But then, in the back of the room, a woman haltingly stood to share. The following is what Janet said:
“As some of you may know, last August 4th, my fiancé was cutting the grass, ran over a beehive, was stung a dozen times, and rushed to our hospital. Although everyone here did all they could, he died four days later due to his allergic reaction.” She nervously, tearfully added quickly, “Oh, but that’s not why I am grateful. I am grateful because what’s happened since.”
Janet went on: “I am grateful to have received so much love and kindness from others, to have revived my faith life, to have had the ability to spend time rediscovering who I am, and to have made a difference since. You see, I desperately needed a group to share and grieve with – and since there wasn’t any in town, I started one. We now meet once a month– and 25 people come. My loss has served as hope for others – I am grateful for that.”
I asked Janet how she continues so boldly and optimistically after such a massive loss.
She shared that while making funeral plans for Gunnar (her fiancé and best friend) she read about someone who wrote one thank you letter everyday and the profoundly positive impact on the author’s life. For more than a year now, Janet has done that exact same thing.
“Everyday 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 guy who pumps my gas, 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 (and I ALWAYS see it!), and to thank them for it.”
Janet concluded by sharing that her pain remains agonizingly real, but in light of all the gifts she encounters each day, she feels extraordinarily blessed.
She sat down to a roomful of applauding, inspired colleagues who had suffered less, complained more, and were in absolute awe of wisdom of their beautiful cohort.
My friends: happiness, success, joy, and gratitude are not achieved, but revealed. They don’t appear when our surroundings, bank statements, health conditions and circumstances change. Instead, they appear when the eyes we choose to view our world demand to see beauty, peace and joy.
Today, and everyday, choose a worldview of gratitude. It will change your life and the world you view.