“Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live.” —Jacqueline Winspear
The busyness of our lives often prevents us from noticing the little everyday blessings. There is always something to do, someplace to go, chores to take care of, and each day slips busily through our fingers, only to be repeated again the next day. Sometimes the hectic life we create for ourselves leads us to overwhelming stress, sickness, and depression. We live in an endless state of wanting and needing more, unable to appreciate our health, family, and friends until we are faced with the possibility of losing them, then suddenly our perspective changes, and we begin to ponder the meaning of life.
Begin your day with gratitude.
Don’t wait for something drastic to happen in your life before you start counting your blessings. Begin now, today. Instead of looking for what’s wrong, start looking for and appreciating what’s right in your life. Be grateful for each day, for the air you breathe, for every person in your life (even the ones that drive you nuts, for without them life would be boring). If you have difficulties being grateful for a job you don’t like, remember those who lost their jobs and would love to have yours. If it is your family that you find difficult to see as a blessing, imagine not having anyone around. If that is difficult, see how many lonely people fall to the hands of depression each year and the statistics on how many billions of dollars are spent each year on alcohol, antidepressants, and other means of lifting one’s mood out of sadness and loneliness. Be grateful that you have someone you can call a friend. If you start each day with gratitude, you will find new meaning to life. When you start focusing on all the riches in your life instead of all that you think you’re still lacking, your attitude will change as well. You’ll start noticing and appreciating all the little things that before went unnoticed right in front of your eyes or you just took for granted.
“For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
End your day with gratitude also. Now you’ll have the chance to remember the people you encountered, the ones whom you helped, and those who helped you. By doing so, you’ll shift your perspective from your own problems and dilemmas and start seeing that everyone is dealing with some challenges. You may even realize that you prefer to live with your own challenges, for comparing to someone else’s, they are not all that bad. People are not just random faces you see on the street, but each one is a story of life revealed only if you open your heart to them. Although subtle at first you’ll begin to realize that we do not live for ourselves alone, but we are here for a higher purpose. We’re here to help each other reach our goals. As someone said, “We’re all angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing each other.”
Gratitude begets generosity.
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.“ —W.A Ward
Generosity starts with the simplest of things: a smile, a hug, a kind word. It is taking attention from ourselves for a moment and giving it to someone else. Even a gesture as small as that can make a person’s day. Just remember that everybody goes through some challenges at any given time and so kindness is the one thing that will always be received with an open heart. Knowing that someone cares can make a world of difference. Be there to listen, that’s generosity, but giving unsolicited advice is arrogant; being truly happy for someone who just accomplished running their first 5K is generosity, telling them that you or someone you know just ran a 10K is self-seeking.
Make time for expressions of gratitude on a daily basis. Write a thank-you note, make that phone call, write an email letting someone know how much their help meant to you. People will always remember your gratitude (or lack of it for that matter). Gratitude opens closed doors, brings customers back to do business with you, makes you stand out in a crowd of competitors.
Ultimate gratitude, paying it forward.
When you live in gratitude, being generous in word and deed, understanding that life is not just about you, but you in the context of people you come in contact with every day, your perceptions of the world will start to change. You will now know that you are part of humankind and humankind is a part of you. A grateful person is a happy person, a joyous person, a hopeful person. It is someone who wants to share of his or her riches, knowing that in sharing they will never be lacking but more will come back to them. A grateful person is generous. They want to bring happiness to others not just in words or good wishes, but through action.
Sharing of your material wealth makes you feel wealthy, and knowing that because of your generosity you helped make a difference to improve someone else’s life is a feeling beyond description.
I strongly believe in actively empowering worthy causes and through Girleffect.org, I have the ability to change the life of a family. What seems a small amount to you or me, may be a life-saving amount to a woman needing a micro loan to start a business and provide income for her family. With Foodforthepoor.org, at the price of a fancy coffee I can buy chickens that will provide eggs to feed a family. With Modestneeds.org, I can help someone buy prescription glasses and so improve their daily life. By practicing gratitude with generosity, you and I have the power to impact the world. I hope you will join me.
Wishing you a life of happiness, purpose, gratitude, and generosity.