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“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” –  Nelson Mandela

Hands Behind BarsSo much stress, bitterness and bondage results from the circumstances we experience around us.

Professionally we are inundated by the needs of demanding managers, shareholders, coworkers, and clients. Personally we struggle with wanting children, aging parents, absent spouses, broken relationships and unfulfilled dreams.

And today, Thanksgiving, many of us will struggle with dried-out turkey, family schisms around that table, or the pain of having no one to join us at dinner.

Yet, I remind you that what happens around us and to us matters far less than what happens within us. [Tweet this.]

As a speaker I’ve had the good fortune of sharing my message with organizations from fortune 100’s to start-ups; from an amphitheater in China to a living room at a neighbor’s house; from CEO groups to Girl Scout troops. One of the most gratifying locations to share isn’t for men and women behind fancy desks, but behind metal bars.

I’ve been invited several times to teach leadership and share inspiration to the inmates at Fort Leavenworth Prison. In this program we discuss learning from mistakes, uncovering talents, discovering passion, setting goals, overcoming adversity, and being on fire for life both while incarcerated and afterwards.

In one of the final exercises of the day, I challenge these men to ignite the gift of gratitude and the joy of thanksgiving. I share the remarkable blessings and learnings in my life because of being burned.The formation of character, strength of faith, growth of friendships, increase in resilience and celebration of life were all multiplied because of a seemingly terrible, tragic fire. After sharing my list, I ask the inmates to do the same. The men are challenged to make a list of everything they’re grateful for because of being jailed. Yes, they’re challenged to make lists because of the high fence, regimented days, and inability to go where they want when they want. They’re given four minutes.

At one particular session I asked if anyone was willing to share his list. No volunteers.

I asked again.


Finally a hand went up.

The gentleman stood, paused for a moment, and then shared: “OK. Ready? Not one damn thing. I hate this place.”

He sat down to laughter.

Ok. Thanks for sharing! Anyone else?

Another gentleman raised his hand, stood and said, “I’ll share.”

And he began to share: “three square meals, a bed to sleep, a warm shower, increase in faith, air condition in the summer, heat in the summer, access to the library, a second chance.” He had 43 reasons for being grateful because of being stuck in prison! The last two bullets on his list were: my last breath and the hope for tomorrow.

The first inmate sat down to laughter. The second gentleman sat down to rousing applause.

My friends, real freedom isn’t merely casting off your chains, but also to live in a such a way that encourages others to do the same. [Tweet this]

Certainly we all know individuals who seem to have everything except a good outlook on life. We also know individuals who seem to have nothing, but exude possibility, peace and joy. Our ability to be truly happy, truly content, and truly free is bonded to our ability to be truly grateful for whatever we have.

Today, kick down whatever walls are holding you from thriving in life. Break out of whatever mindset is keeping you chained up. Unlock the opportunity to breathe life and possibility into every moment.

For you see, it’s not walls that keep you locked in. It’s the mindset that thinks it is.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends. The best is yet to come.

PS: Take the challenge today to not just eat turkey and watch football, but to take time to gratefully count your blessings. Start now! Share a list of five things you are grateful for in the comments below. We’ll randomly select a friend who shares to win our holiday gift set including our book, DVD and three wristbands.

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1) The time I was able to spend with my family and friends for this Thanksgiving holiday.

2) That God blessed me with many gifts this year and the ability to feel gratefulness for all of them.

3) That we all have the capacity to witness, notice and observe others kindness over the Thanksgiving holiday week and throughout the year. When people shared that with me this past week, I felt even more blessed and grateful.

4) The cold, snowy weather of the North that felt amazing amid the contrast of a hot fire, a warm oven, a heated house and the warmth of people around me.

5) The quick reminder how lucky we all are to live in an advanced country where the vast majority of us have clean water, electricity, and good plumbing facilities. This was realized when last Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving, the power went out during a winter snowstorm and left us without electricity and pump based plumbing for several hours!

I am thankful for;
1) My Heath
2) My loving wife and daughter
3) My job and the fabulous people I work with.
4) My opportunity to serve others
5) The graciousness of the universe, give and you shall receive ten fold.

I am thankful for:
1) My faith and a God that loves me no matter what
2) My amazing husband, with all his gifts and the love he gives me
3) My daughters, their families, and my family. I Know this sounds trite, but I don’t know what I would do without these people in my life. I am so truly blessed
4) My ability to work, help people every day
5) Connections to others
My list can go on and on. I have kept a thankful journal in the past and each day write down just a couple of things I was thankful for, amazing how it keeps things in perspective.
Attitude of Gratitude every day


I am thankful for:
1. Jesus
2. Prayer
3. Family – husband, sons, daughter-in-law, mom, sister, extended family
4. Freedom
5.Beauty of the created world
And so much more……….

Five things for which I am grateful:
My loving supportive husband.
My two amazing sons and “daughter” by marriage.
My wonderful friends.
My extended family by marriage.
The inspiring words of John O’Leary which I look forward to every week.

I am grateful for:
1. My sister.
2. The meal we shared at the Valley Vista Church today.
3. My faraway brother and sister-in-law.
4. My many short and long term friends.
5. God and his many gifts.

I am grateful for:
1) Faith as a Christian – Roman Catholic
2) Being an American and living Free
3) Parents and their raising me to make them proud of my life.
4) A Military Career in the Infantry to include tours in Vietnam and Iraq.
5) A loving Wife, 2 Daughters, 7 Grandchildren, 1 Great Granddaughter.
6) The Emory Hospital Team who successfully treated my Cancer.

I am grateful for
1. The love and acceptance my children and my husband’s children show each other.
2. The good health my family has been blessed with and their care of that gift.
3. Still felling relevant –even at 72 years old.
4. Finding plenty of things to laugh about.
5. Buttered popcorn.

1 – My husband/best friend.
2 – Music
3 – A home where I feel safe
4 – Living near a beautiful beach
5 – Genuine kindness of others

1. The emotional and physical resilience my daughter has come to own
2. The increased strength of my marriage which in turn grows and stretches me daily
3. The trust and respect of my children
4. The long term quality time that I was able to share with my dad before losing him, which has yielded me several memories to treasure and keep him alive within me
5. The long term quality time that I share with my mom that I treasure

1. The health of my friends and family
2. The opportunity for success and growth that tomorrow brings
3. My 2 kids who are my WHY
4. The personal and professional support of those who surround me
5. The opportunity to positively impact someone’s life every day

Thankful for my children, many great friends, my family, my career which provides a nice life for my family. My employees who really care to do the best for our customers. My mentors who add so much to my life and to John O’leary who continues to provide me with so much wisdom in his weekly email I receive.

I am grateful for:
1) The most wonderful supportive husband any wife could ask for.
2) Friends that are there for the good, the bad and the ugly.
3) My families, all over the country, who share my history as well.
4) Where I live
5) Two beautiful, smart, talented daughters.

I am thankful for:
1. My amazing husband
2. The beautiful family I have been blessed with – both immediate and extended.
3. A warm home filled with love.
4. Young friends who share their hopes and dreams with me.
5. People in the world who share their stories and inspiration to help me become a better (and happier) person – this includes all of you at Rising Above.

I am grateful to have the privilege to care for my mother in my home. She is 92 years old. With so many of my friends who have lost their parents, I know I am truly blessed.
I am grateful for my family. Not one of else is perfect, but we love each other.
I am grateful to have a roof over my head and food in the pantry. So many don’t have these basic comforts.
I am grateful for all my little aches and pains because they mean I am aging gracefully and I have escaped major illnesses that could be so much worse.
I am grateful for those who inspire me, those who put life in perspective. I am grateful for you John. I have followed you ever since I heard you speak at our Scentsy Family Reunion. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

I am grateful for:
1) The most wonderful supportive husband any wife could ask for.
2) Friends that are there for the good, the bad and the ugly.
3) My families, all over the country, who share my history as well.
Where I live

I am grateful for 1: my health, for with out it I would not be capable of living the life I am living 2: the good health of my wife, daughter & parents 3: the incredible network of good friends that inspire me everyday & hold me accountable, without knowing, to be the best person I can be on a daily basis 4: the people that work in my company for without them I would not be able to do the things that matter most to me 5: the people in the military, past & present, for giving me the gift of freedom & 6: I am grateful to God for all of the above

I am thankful that I will be welcoming a baby girl into this world in the next 2 weeks. That although I am not with them this holiday I have a family that loves me. That I knew true love although he was taken from me much to soon. That I have a job I enjoy. And that i have friends and friendships tgat have withstood the test of time. Happy Thanksgiving! For all this and more I am thankful.

1. Having my healthy, loving, amazing daughters home for Thanksgiving
2. My daughter got her wisdom teeth out on Tuesday. Grateful for the talented dentist and her speedy recovery
3. My comfortable home
4. My loving dogs
5. My friends although very far away – knowing they love and support me unconditionally

I am grateful for 1) family 2) cozy apartment overlooking a park that I share with my husband 3) peaceful protests 4) my dad’s peaceful passing last week and our joy knowing he’s free from his dementia and in a better place 5) being loved and loving 6) and so much more!

1) I’m grateful for having recently celebrated my mother’s 90th birthday with friends and family.
2)I’m grateful for the love in my life, that fills me and surrounds me.
3) I’m grateful for opportunity. It is in every situation if I look for it.
4) I’m grateful for my health.
5) I’m grateful for Spirit that nurtures, protects and guides me in all things.
extra * 6)I’m grateful for having heard you speak this year and for the inspiration you bring to the world. Thank you!

I was thinking about this yesterday.
-For my faith in God and for being Catholic.
-For all my family, especially my DH.
-For a warm bed.
-For shelter.
-For employment at which I can support myself.
-For the gift of living in a free country.
-That I am able to work and enjoy life.
-For encouragement like yours.
-My health.

1 – I am thankful for my relationship with Jesus Christ my Lord and Saviour

2 – I am thankful for His Holy Spirit that lives within me, His Word, love, grace, mercy, provision, protection, patience, discipline, spiritual gifts, natural talents and abilities He has blessed me with

3 – I am thankful for my wife and children

4 – I am thankful for the family I was born into and its generational heritage that paved the way for the life I enjoy

5 – I am thankful for being born at this time and place in history

I am most thankful for the amazing gift of faith that my parents passed on to me. Also, that they are still with us at 87 years young and doing amazing! For my husband who is an amazing father and husband, who brings it strong despite having a neuromuscular condition that weakens his body every day. For my little house that forces the 7 of us to communicate and share. My Lord Jesus who suffered and died for us, that we may all be together again one day.

I am grateful for my loving family. For the beautiful place I call home. For my health. For the work that I get to do. For my wonderful clients. For being able to get up everyday and do my best to make a difference. For my wonderful friends. This really is a good life!

I am thankful for waking up with the opportunity to make this a great day!
I am thankful for my health, yet I am out of shape and could do more.
I am thankful for my family, my daughter, sister and mother with whom we can laugh and cry and always know, there is no better place than beside them.
I am thankful for my boyfriend and our challenging relationship, a man that loves me, yet we struggle in so many ways.
and lastly, I am so very thankful for my Scentsy journey, that has made me grow as a person, brought people into my friend pool that have forever changed my life, and for the opportunity to hear your story and know there is always more to come!

I am thankful I am still around to be thankful
For the increadable people I have surrounding me
For the hard knock lessons that life gives us
For the ability to learn from those hard knock lessons
And last but not least for one of the most important people in my life my son.

I am thankful for the life lessons that God has provided me. I am thankful for the friends and family that God chose for me. I am thankful for my job in which God has given me the wisdom and knowledge to assist families in need. I am thankful for the health God has given me so I may wake up every morning and love life. Last but certainly not least, I am thankful that God chose to let John O’Leary survive that day so he may inspire people like me to be better people so we may inspire them. God Bless

I am thankful for so much not sure where to start.
1. My 2 sons even though they live far away we talk at least once a week
2. My 91 yr old mother getting her close enough to spend time together
3. My roommate who is always there for me
4. My late husband and the 31 yrs we got to spend together as he helped me grow to be a strong woman we met when we were 16
5. My job as a real estate agent I get to meet many wonder people who often become friends and I get to help them fulfill their dreams
6 my co workers who many are personal friends and always have my back
7. My friends who even though we don’t see each other a lot are always excited to see me
8. My oldes sister even though she lives 900 miles away has always been there whenever I need a shoulder to cry on, advice or someone to laugh with
9. My home and the roof over my head
10. My health
I could go on and on. Most importantly My God who died for me and now blesses me each and everyday with the life that I have.

I am thankful for my health and the health of those I love.
I am thankful for the man in my life that is the calm in my storm.
I am thankful for the three beautiful kids I have. They are beautiful inside and out.
I am thankful to have a mom who helps me and loves on my kids.
I am thankful to work for a company that cares about me and invests in me.

*Thankful to God for loving me just as I am, in spite of my failures and shortcomings.
*Thankful for family – those who are mine by birth, and those I have chosen to be a part of my extended family.
*Thankful to have a good job despite the long hours and drama in the office. 🙂
*Thankful to be a citizen of the USA – even though it’s not what it used to be. I could have been born somewhere with no rights or freedoms.
*Thankful for having a day focused on reflecting on the many things I am thankful for…even though I am thankful everyday, I don’t always take the time to think about it fully.

I am grateful for my two dogs — Duncan and Murray.
I am grateful for a thriving real estate business.
I am grateful for friends and family.
I am grateful that I am healthy.
I am grateful to be reconnected to a family member.
I am grateful for great clients.
I am grateful for my home.

Thank you John for suggesting this. It’s a good way to kick off Thanksgiving day!

I am thankful for my God!
I am thankful for the close, supportive structure of my family.
I am thankful for my husband and children and our daily blessings of health and togetherness.
I am thankful for my church family and the challenges they give me to grow in my walk with Jesus.
I am thankful for the opportunities to touch the lives of ‘my kids’ at school on a daily basis.

My husband and his sons and the adventures they have added to my life.
All of my family both sides – there are many challenges, btu way more joy.
My career – I dislike the politics and tedious things that come along with work, but I love what I do for a living.
The opportunity to serve others.
The people of Haiti.

I thank God for my faith which sustains me and guides my life
For my amazing husband, the best friend I could ever want!
I am thankful for my dear family,my new son-in-law and his family and all my friends
I am grateful to live in this country; even with its problens and flaws
it is still a remarkable place if freedom and opportunity.
And I am thankful for the gift of life

1. My family, friends, and doctors who have helped me through the last two months!
2. My boys who make me laugh and scream because of their love of life and their love/hate “brotherly” relationship!
3. My daughter who found love and gave us our first adorable grandson to love on and make us smile everyday!
4. My husband who really must love me because he puts up with me, but then again, I put up with him too! 28 years strong!!
5. My God, faith, spirituality, belief in a greater power that will love me and lead me.

1) I’m grateful for my mother and her good health
2) I’m thankful I have the honor of caring for her.
3) I’m blessed with 3 beautiful & healthy children
4) I have a roof over my head, a warm bed and healthy food to eat.
5) I’m blessed with a healthy, young body that’s wiser after 1/2 a century of living on this beautiful earth.

I am grateful for the many blessings of the past year- a great job, wonderful friends but most importantly my family who will join me today to give thanks for the day and support me as I wait for the news of a recent biopsy.

Happy Thanksgiving
5 things I am grateful for
1. my sobriety
2. family
3. friends that understand and love me anyway
4 the joy of helping others less fortunate
5.good health

1. I can walk (even though I have issues with my legs). 2. I get to be with my grandsons almost every day. 3. My 90 year old Dad is still alive and kicking! 4. My sons are my best friends. 5. A long career in a Catholic School which gave me rock solid faith in all things seen and unseen.

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