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Welcome to our podcast listeners, wherever you may be in the world today! This is Steve Shallenberger, your host, and we have a great subject that we’re talking about today – it is gratitude, peace, and balance, and Happy Thanksgiving!
There’s a great quote by Germany Kent, it goes like this: “A funny thing about life – once you begin to take note of the things you’re grateful for, you begin to lose sight of things that you lack.” Way to go, Germany! That is well done!
And here are just a few ways to say, “Thank you” in different languages:
- In Spanish – Gracias;
- French – Merci Beaucoup;
- Italian – Grazie;
- Japanese – Arigato;
- Chinese – Do Jeh;
- German – Danke Sehr;
- Thai – Khop Khun Mak Kha (Oh, that’s a great one, isn’t it?);
- Russian – Spasiba;
- Korean – Gamsahabnida (I’m sure I slaughtered that one);
- Icelandic – Takk;
- Hawaiian – Mahalo;
- Hebrew – Toda;
- Greek – Efharisto;
- English – Thank you.
Well, these are all expressions of this feeling that we have of gratitude and what an impact it has! A group by the name of Occupational Athletes shared some great thoughts on gratitude, and I thank them for the inspiration that they’ve provided for this podcast. You’ve probably heard that living in the past can make you miserable and depressed and that living in the future can cause you to be anxious sometimes; living in your present is the happy medium that can help you feel your most positive and at the best and living in the present with gratitude can lead you towards inner peace and tranquility – and this is what Principle Number 11 from Becoming Your Best is all about, is how to live in peace and balance. We’re all unique with our own stories to tell. We’ve had, each of us, trials and triumphs, easygoing times in our lives, and stretches at times that we’ve really struggled. Everything that we have experienced in life is what makes us, us – and some of us consider ourselves positive people and some of us might look at the negative first. And no matter what type of person you tend to be, we all get carried away with the chaos of life and even those who consider themselves positive and peaceful find that there are many times when they really need to work at maintaining that positive state of mind.
What can help all of us to experience inner peace, balance, and a positive outlook is gratitude. People without a grateful mindset – in other words, “What am I grateful for?” – despite what is going on in life, they tend to be more resentful, depressed and anxious on a regular basis. There’s so much research that supports this! And just as looking at the negatives first, pessimism is a habit. Learning to be grateful, in spite of it all, can also become a habit. What a blessing!
Being grateful for everything you have, every little thing, each and every day, versus everything you don’t have, all of the bad things that happen to you, or even dwelling on what happened a long time ago, and what hasn’t happened yet, makes a huge difference in how you view life and how you let the chaos of life affect your very being. Some people do live in gratitude, but many people need to learn how to be grateful as a skill. And indeed, it is both a mindset and a skill set – practice it daily until it becomes a habit. Being grateful helps us to accept ourselves and to let go of our past – the negative parts of our past that hold us hostage.
Keeping a gratitude journal could be life-changing. A friend of mine, Terry, shared how every day he uses his Becoming Your Best planner to write down some of the things that happened that day that he’s grateful for. And this has become his gratitude journal and he uses it for life. I mean, it is so powerful! Anytime he needs a boost, he can just go back and reflect upon it at any time.
It’s interesting because I decided some time ago, this is about 25 years ago, that I would make a list of all of the things I admired and was grateful for with my wife, Roxanne. This list became very long, and anytime I started becoming a little critical of my wife, I would pull out my Spouse Gratitude Sheet, and it helped me to put things into the proper perspective. At the same time, I was reminded of how fortunate I was to be married to such an extraordinary and amazing person.
Another friend shared that when he paused in his prayers to give thanks, he found that his humility and faith increased. This friend, then, shared that this later led to greater peace and happiness in his life on a larger basis.
Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Edmonds of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. Mccullough of the University of Miami, have done much research on gratitude. In one study, they asked all participants to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics: one group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week; a second group would write about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and then the third, wrote about events that had affected them with no particular emphasis on being positive or negative. After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to the physician than those who focused on sources of aggravation.
Gratitude can change your life by shifting your focus on what is wrong with yourself – and the world around you – to what is right. Once you’ve begun making gratitude a part of your life, you’ll find that it becomes easier; feeling grateful will have you seeing more and more to be grateful for and positives beget more positives. And they’re just a little bonus here because studies have shown that living in gratitude can have other benefits, including enhanced heart health, increased immunity, decreased inflammation, less stress, better sleep, and enhanced relationships. I’ve talked about that in a previous podcast before. This is great research!
About two years ago, I was invited to speak to MBAs from across the nation that had gathered at the Harvard Business School. It was an extraordinary group from some of the very top business programs in the entire world. The speaker before me was a popular tenured professor at the Harvard Business School. His subject was, “The power of gratitude.” One of the activities he had the students participate in was to think of a teacher or a mentor that had had a great impact for good on their life. He then handed out a blank sheet of paper and invited each class member to write that individual a letter of appreciation and gratitude for the impact that they had had in their life. And then he gave out an envelope and had the students address it, and then, they passed that envelope back to the professor, and the professor, then, would put it in the mail. He had then invited the class members who felt impressed to do so, to call the person and actually thank them over the phone. This was an amazingly emotional experience! It was so interesting to see how quiet and subdued that the class was. There was such an overwhelming feeling of gratitude! This may be something that you might like to do. Maybe a great exercise with the family or even with a team in your organization.
During this season of Thanksgiving, may you and each one of us be determined to reflect on gratitude and having a thankful heart on a daily basis. This practice, this habit, will powerfully impact you as a person and as a leader. It will also influence all those within the radiance of your leadership and personality. Today, we thank you! We thank you, our listeners! I share my gratitude to my family members, my wonderful spouse, wife, the people I work with, have the chance to associate in community responsibilities and different associations that we work in. I feel so grateful for people that have had such a big impact in my life, for dedicated employees who are so amazing!
One of my mentors whom I respect so much, Denis Waitley – internationally acclaimed speaker and author – shared the following quote, “Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” May this spirit abide in you and permeate your DNA in every way! And Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours today and always! This is Steve Shallenberger, with Becoming Your Best Global Leadership, wishing you a great day!