Archive for the ‘Igniting Your Spark’ Category

How Gratitude Sparks Continue to Ignite

Monday, July 18th, 2011

A friend sees a video and shares it on Facebook and you share it with your friends.

A family member reads a great book and forwards it to you and in turn you forward it on when you’re finished with it.

A colleague shows you a new way to use a software program that helps your productivity and you share it with your team.

All of these simple gestures have the potential to improve your life and create a ripple effect in the lives of others.

Expressing profound gratitude works in much the same way.  When I wrote This is the Moment my intention was to share the story of my yearlong journey of gratitude with others so they could see how easy and rewarding it can be.  What has happened is a ripple effect.

For instance, my son, Jason, gave away several copies of the book to friends and business colleagues.  He used the book both as an introduction to his own expressions of gratitude as well as to people who he felt might benefit from the story.  Jason’s gifts ignited several sparks of gratitude.

After reading the book, one of his business colleagues delivered a deep and profound expression of gratitude to his grandmother.  He was so moved by the impact of this experience that he apparently bought some 200 copies to give to his colleagues, family and friends.  One of these recipients who read the book was inspired to write to his childhood scoutmaster.  Much to his and my surprise, the scoutmaster said it was the first time in his life he had received such an acknowledgement and he treasured it.

How wonderful is it to see something so positive move from person to person, state to state and country to country.  In the age of wanting everything to go viral on the internet, it is wonderful to know we all have the ability to take something as beautiful as an expression of profound gratitude and touch the lives of many through this ripple effect.

Here’s how you can ignite your own spark…

Think of a teacher, a colleague, a family member or your scoutmaster from your childhood. We may or may not have thanked these people at the time for a specific contribution they may have made to our lives.  We assume because of their position and passion for helping other people, they are well compensated in the gratitude department.  We assume those they’ve helped have taken the time to express gratitude for the lessons they’ve learned and their influence on their lives.

That is rarely the case.

For the past year I’ve had the pleasure of hearing your stories of expressing profound gratitude to people who have impacted your life and how much it has enriched your lives and relationships.  It has been a delight to watch these sparks of gratitude ignite across generations and decades of friendships.

What continues to surprise me is how infrequently these life influencers are thanked for what they do.  They are seldom appreciated for the life-long impact they’ve made in our lives.  Who can you remember from 10 years ago, 20 years ago who taught you a lesson or made a real difference in your life?  Don’t assume they know how much they meant to you.  Start your own ripple effect and have the conversation, create the video, write the song or write the letter that will tell them what you have been thinking all of these years.

I would love for you to share your story with our gratitude community through a comment below or by writing to me here, at Share Your Story link.

The Perfect Gift for Father’s Day

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

In anticipation of Father’s Day it is my sincere hope to help you enhance your relationships with your father, grandfather, mentor or any father figure in your lives. This act will also eliminate any regrets for things left unsaid and give you a great gift idea for Father’s Day—the gift of a sincere “thank you” and the knowledge of how these men helped change the course of your life.

When I took my yearlong journey to thank the people who made a significant impact on me it enriched my life! Specifically, it made me much more conscious of my good fortune in having each person in my life—and, moreover, thankful for what they did for me.

That’s why on Father’s Day, explicitly expressing gratitude will enhance your relationship with the person you are thanking. It not only increases their awareness of your gratitude, but it makes you think and express the ways in which the person affected your life. Everyone loves to know that they have made a real difference in someone’s life, especially on Father’s Day!

There is nothing more special than a personal gift and nothing more personal than an expression of gratitude for the many acts of love and support that one has received from one’s Father. It’s also an easy gift—you don’t have to concern yourself with what they need or want, or if it fits or runs on batteries.

How to give this gift of gratitude on Father’s Day

The easiest and most genuine thing sons or daughters can do is to set aside time during the day to express gratitude to their Father—and schedule it so that neither of you will be interrupted. The location should be quiet and devoid of distractions. It is important to take some time beforehand to jot down notes on specific instances where your father made a difference in your life: times when he served as an example, taught you a lesson, and when he gave you love, inspiration or support. It is also important to take notes about how these moments changed you, your outlook on the world, or simply made you feel loved. I brought notes with me to all my visits and found it very helpful in setting the pace for the meeting.

If you cannot be with your father in person, a letter, perhaps accompanied by a photograph of a shared time together (stating much the same things described above), would work just fine.

For those who are not the best at expressing themselves in letters, I’ve heard testimonies from people who have inscribed the title page of This Is the Moment with a short note of gratitude within it. By reading the book, along with the note, a father will understand the significance without needing to have it expressed literally.

The gift you give to yourself

It is my hope to inspire you to not miss this opportunity to express explicit gratitude to your Father, or father figures on this day. It will enrich your life and theirs, enhance the relationships, and give you peace of mind knowing nothing is left unsaid.

Everyone wants validation, needs it, and it’s always a good fit. It is especially helpful in these tough economic times that it is not only a wonderful gift, but it is one that everyone can afford! The last third of my book, This Is the Moment is all about making it easy. You can also get a free guide to help you with your expression of gratitude by accessing the Ignite Your Spark downloadable pdf at the bottom of the pages of this website.

Please join me on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/WalterAGreen and Twitter http://twitter.com/WalterAGreen !

Parents Urged to Teach Gratitude – Why It’s Only the Beginning

Friday, March 18th, 2011

When we teach our children to say “thank you” are we training them to act thankful or be a grateful person?

Most parents will respond, “Well, you have to start somewhere.”  I agree.  We do have to start somewhere.  In the early years of our children’s life we begin to get them into the habit (which implies a routine to some) of expressing their gratitude.  But at the core of that gesture is the recognition of being thankful for things rather than grateful for how someone impacts our lives.

I found Jeremy Olsen’s column “Can Forcing Kids to Say “Thank You” Backfire?” raised the important subject of gratitude and when and how it is expressed.  Although the column referred to children’s expressions, it is a lifelong issue.   I refer to the expression of gratitude like the exercising of a muscle group.  Young children learn when and how to say thank you.  I would refer to this episodic expression as the small, albeit important muscle.

When I took my yearlong journey to express extraordinary gratitude to those who have profoundly influenced my life, I referred to these expressions as a big muscle group.  This type of appreciation was not for just one act but for a series of influences that had a big impact on my life.  In my book, This Is the Moment, I write about this journey and strongly encourage readers to express their gratitude while everyone is alive and well rather than in a eulogy or worse yet, letting it remain unsaid.

What is central to both of these expressions is awareness.  No matter where you are in your stage of life you should be conscious of what someone has done for you.  Acknowledging their impact should be followed by an expression from you.  From my experience, you have a lot of choices for how you share your gratitude.  I think Mary O’ Donnell’s message to parents to teach young children to express thanks is a great start to developing a lifelong practice of being aware and showing gratitude.

How do you teach your children to be thankful and grateful?  How do you demonstrate it to them and for them?  I’d love to hear from you so please share the creative and thoughtful ways you are inspiring the next generation of appreciative and expressive souls.

Please join me on Facebook and Twitter!

How One Woman Is Impacting Many with Expressions of Gratitude

Friday, December 17th, 2010

I wanted to share with you an encouraging and uplifting report.  I met Brenda at a recent event and her initiative and creativity in helping others capture the power of expressing extraordinary gratitude is heartwarming.  The thoughtfulness of what she has done and the diversity of her audiences is nothing short of amazing.

She is not only “igniting sparks” she is fanning the flames of a potential “wildfire of gratitude.”  With her permission I share her story with you.

I wanted to share my experience with spreading the message of This Is the Moment and hopefully “ignite sparks” in others.  I work as a spiritual consultant at a K-8 school. I am also a counselor for women and children living in a domestic violence shelter, and I volunteer my time teaching youth at my church.

I delivered the message of the importance of expressing gratitude to the 8th grade students yesterday, with the principal present, and she is going to have the students write a letter to a person who has influenced their life and give an oral presentation as their semester exam, based on my presentation of your book. Children find writing their emotions far less daunting than verbalizing their feelings. Understandably; however, if we can encourage children in looking for the positive influence of others, sharing it in a way they are comfortable, I believe they will find it easier to verbalize their feelings as they get older.  The principal shared that she wants to order This is the Moment for each 8th grader student. Just think of the impact!

I also gave the presentation to our youth group at church (young women ages 12-18). I had each of the girl’s teachers write a letter expressing their gratitude toward the girls, and I then gave the girls the assignment of paying it forward by using the gift bag I delivered their letter in to write a letter to someone who has influenced their lives. They will report back in a few weeks and share their experience.

Lastly, I presented to a few women who are victims of domestic violence. I was sensitive to their situation, with the understanding that they may possibly find it difficult at this time of the year to look for positive influences in their lives; however, they loved the message and reported that they were up to the task of sharing their feelings with others who have influenced them. I’ve learned that gratitude has no boundaries.

I believe the antidote to depression, loneliness, and other challenges, is looking for the positive influences in your life, reaching out, softening and opening your heart by expressing gratitude”.

Brenda

It only takes one person to share profound expressions of gratitude that builds momentum and changes lives.  Do you have a story of how expressing gratitude has changed your life and your relationships?  I would love to share it with our gratitude community.  Please submit it here

The Most Personal Holiday Gift that You Hope Gets Re-Gifted

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

What do you buy for those special people in your life?

We struggle for that just-right gift that will show them how much they mean to us, how much we care about them, and we want to give a gift that is from the heart and is personal.

In economic times like these, money is understandably limited for gifts.  There is nothing more special than a personal gift and nothing more personal than an expression of profound gratitude to those who had a major impact on our lives.

This is a gift for all people of any age, all backgrounds and all economic circumstances.  This uncommon approach to gratitude is a way to enrich our lives, enhance our important relationships and achieve peace of mind that can only come from not having regrets for things left unsaid.

In addition, there are several ways to give this “uncommon gift” that will cost a lot less than most people normally spend and the likely impact on the giver and the recipient are far greater than you can imagine.

I encourage you to reach out to the significant people in your life and have a one-on-one connection – in person, on the phone, in a letter – in whichever medium works best for both of you.  Do it your way. If you need assistance with what and how to communicate your profound gratitude, take a look at the last section of my book, This is the Moment or download the Free Guide offered at the bottom of this page by entering your email address.

Expressing extraordinary gratitude to those people who have impacted your life may be your perfect gift this year. The best thing that could happen is that it is re-gifted to someone else – that the receiver shares this wonderful experience with their significant relationships and then they share it, and so on….

Be the first to start the momentum of what will be one of the most rewarding and joyous gifts you have ever given.

School-Aged Children Get Into the Act of Gratitude

Friday, December 10th, 2010

As a wonderful contrast to all of the recent stories about school bullying and children in crisis, it was wonderful to see how the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) designated November 8–12, 2010, as National School Psychology Awareness Week.

More impressive is the exercise they use to “strengthen positive relationships and increasing positive experiences.” It is called Gratitude Works and it encourages students to write letters of gratitude to someone who has made a difference in their lives or the lives of others. The intention is to “reinforce students’ practice of gratitude as one of many pro-social behaviors that can foster individual resilience and well-being and contribute to overall positive school climate.”

Recently I had the opportunity to speak to three graduate management classes at Hofstra University about my yearlong journey of expressing gratitude. I was pleased to receive dozens of emails following those lectures from the students who had done their “homework” almost immediately. They had contacted someone who was a significant life influencer and told him or her specifically how they had affected their life. Every message I received was filled with enormous positive energy, peace of mind and pride in having created even deeper relationships.

Expressing profound gratitude can never start too early. Even school-aged children can think of at least one person who has impacted their life. There are several good reasons to start expressing your appreciation to these people now. The sooner you tell them how you feel, the longer they will be able have to take pleasure in the message. They’ll probably be inspired to help others; in fact, the ripples may very well be felt far and wide, and all because you made these individuals aware of how important they are to you.

Also, keep in mind that expressing your gratitude will likely enhance and enrich your relationships with these wonderful human beings and by starting young, you’ll have more time to enjoy them.

Another consideration is that it’s often easier for young people to speak openly and express heartfelt feelings. Plus, the earlier you do so, the more likely it is that you’ll get better at it, and the effort will become habitual. It’s like exercising an undeveloped muscle.

So what is stopping you? School-age children are doing it. College students are doing it…Why not you – why not now?

To read the full article about the National School Psychology Awareness Week, click here. http://www.columbuslocalnews.com/articles/2010/11/08/news_from_readers/doc4cd6c6c448c62562727008.txt

How to Craft Your Extraordinary Expressions of Gratitude

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

As we are full-swing into the holiday season it is a natural time to think of the people who have made a difference in our lives. Often times we assume they know how we feel or we tell them we appreciate them, respect them or are inspired by them but we don’t elaborate.

For example, it is one thing to tell your significant other they mean a great deal to you. You can even go one step further and say something like: “you provide stability and comfort in my life.” Now imagine if you gave a specific example such as, “No matter how stressful things get at work, I always know that I’m going to come home to a serene environment and your unfailing support.”

Wouldn’t this feel wonderful to say to someone? Imagine the gift you are giving!

Now here’s how you can craft an extraordinary expressing of gratitude…

How do you think your spouse would feel if you followed up that previous expression with, “This makes me want to do the same for you, and I think I’m a better person for it.”

Not only will you have expressed your gratitude on a much deeper level, but the other person has a more profound understanding of what he/she means to you, how he/she has specifically impacted your life and how he/she can continue to do the same for others.

This is the perfect way to ignite sparks in your relationship as well as other people in both of your lives.

What about your parents, your children or your best friend? What impact would these conversations have on those relationships?

Here are a few more examples of how you can go deeper with your expressions.

Example: “Your character and solid values have been great role models for me.”

Specifically:
“I was impressed seeing you cope so gracefully with the disappointment of losing your job and making lifestyle changes.”

Digging Deeper: “This brought home what’s important in my life and I made some important adjustments.”

Example: “You’re a rock.”

Specifically: “It’s a relief for me to know that there’s someone I can trust with the most confidential aspects of my life.”

Digging Deeper: “You epitomize loyalty, and that gives me tremendous peace of mind. It makes me want to be there for the people who rely on me.”

This is easier than you might have first thought. It only takes a few minutes to think about the specifically how their actions have changed your life and who you have become as a result of having them in your life.

Start today. If you haven’t already done so, download the FREE guide Creating Your Own Gratitude Conversations offered at the bottom of this page under Ignite Your Spark.

Once you begin to with your extraordinary expressions of gratitude, I would love for you to share them with our gratitude community on the Share Your Story page of this site.

Nephew Shares Blessing of Gratitude on WPIX-TV in New York

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Most people know that you like and love them, but very seldom (if at all) do they know how they’ve specifically impacted your life.  In this brief segment on WPIX-TV in New York I touch on the four key elements of an extraordinary expression of gratitude.

My nephew, Eric Herrenkohl was one of the 44 people on my yearlong journey to express profound gratitude.

You can also see what our gratitude conversation meant to him during this television segment and the action he took immediately following our time together.

 

For your own peace of mind so that you don’t have any regrets, have your gratitude conversation with those significant people in your life today. If you are not sure how to start, sign in at the bottom of this page and download your FREE guide. It will show you the simple steps to creating your own gratitude conversation.

Once you start your journey I would love for you to share your experience with our community. Please go to the Share Your Story page on the website and ignite sparks of gratitude.

Expressing Profound Gratitude: Are You Reaping the Rewards?

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

We hear and read about how an attitude of gratitude and how it can help us through tough times. This is very true. Equally as important is how expressing profound gratitude can transform our levels of happiness on an even deeper level. It can also a bring us that often elusive peace of mind.

Robert Emmons, Ph.D. is the author of Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier, which I acknowledge in my book, This Is the Moment Recently Dr. Emmons wrote an article that summarized very concisely what we can gain from expressing and feeling gratitude.

“We’ve studied more than one thousand people, from ages 8 to 80, and found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits:

Physical

  • Stronger immune systems
  • Less bothered by aches and pains
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Exercise more and take better care of their health
  • Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking

Psychological

  • Higher levels of positive emotions
  • More alert, alive, and awake
  • More joy and pleasure
  • More optimism and happiness

Social

  • More helpful, generous, and compassionate
  • More forgiving
  • More outgoing
  • Feel less lonely and isolated

Take another look at the list that Dr. Robert Emmons shares above – if a daily supplement pill promised these results, would you take it?

The practice of expressing deep gratitude to those who have impacted our lives in important ways can yield all the above benefits and some additional ones. Further, if we fail to express this level of appreciation, to others, the outcome is usually painful regrets for all that was left unsaid. Given all the benefits of expressing deep gratitude to others, both for ourselves and the recipients, why don’t we “just do it”? Because it is not normal or customary. In one of my chapters “Hesitancy is but One Step from Action” I sleigh these perceived obstacles including I’m too Old, I’m too Young, I’m too Busy, I’d be Uncomfortable, It Doesn’t Matter, or They Know How I Feel.

After I’d completed my yearlong journey of gratitude and one of my friends asked, “What did you get from all this?” “What was it really like for you?” It was almost as if he was asking me to reveal a secret, and it prompted me to drill a little deeper for a response.

Two of several immediate responses came to mind. First, I had a much deeper appreciation of just how important these relationships were to me. It felt like I was seeing them in “high definition”. The second thought was: peace of mind. I didn’t realize I was getting it at the time I was having my conversations or even after I’d finished them. I only got in touch with how peaceful I’d become sometime later when I was faced with a crisis. Which I go into more detail in This is the Moment.

Don’t wait until you have a health crisis to express profound gratitude, do it today for all the reasons Dr. Emmons’ study reveals, and much more.

To read the entire online article by Robert Emmons, Ph.D. click here: “Why Gratitude Is Good”

To get started on your own gratitude conversation, sign in at the bottom of this page under Ignite Your Spark! and get your FREE guide.

Capturing the Intent of Expressing Profound Gratitude on Amazon.com

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Being a first time author and life-time student, I am always appreciative of the degree to which people are willing to acknowledge new insights and create new habits.

I recently read a review of This is the Moment on Amazon.com and I wanted to publicly recognize and thank “Susan” for her newly found commitment to begin her personal journey of gratitude.

Here is “Susan’s” entry:

From the moment I noticed this book I was enamored with the title, the premise, the incredible journey the author, Walter Green traveled. I saw myself asking the same questions Mr. Green asked of himself as he contemplated the blessings in his life. As I read the poignant stories of the 44 people in Walter’s life I knew that I have so much gratitude within me that I, too, must begin to express. And thus my personal journey is underway as a result of reading THIS IS THE MOMENT. Not another moment in my life is passing without my specific expression of thanks and gratitude for what and how those in my life have contributed to the woman that I am today – albeit far from free of “challenges” – there are those who have graced my life with support, encouragement, friendship, expertise, wisdom, humor.

This is a must have book for everyone so when we are at the end of our life, we truly have no regrets for words we might have said because we HAVE said it all to everyone in our life who mattered.

It is very satisfying to read that This Is the Moment is “working.”  It is igniting the reader to reach out to those who have made a difference so that you can experience the joy of giving the gift of extraordinary gratitude and at the same time, avoid the all-too-often regrets from leaving things unsaid.

Like Susan, my life experienced lots of challenges.  As a matter of fact, not one of the 44 people on my journey was free from these difficult moments.  One of the profound insights from my yearlong journey of gratitude was that all of these relationships were solidified by surviving these life challenges together.  Of course, we had lots of joyful and happy times but the depth of the relationship was solidified by being there to support each other when times got tough.

As Susan said, it is the support, encouragement, friendship, expertise, wisdom, and humor from those who touched our lives along the way that have made all the difference.  This is the moment to let these people know the impact they have had on us. It is a gift that only we can have the pleasure of giving.