Posts Tagged ‘benefits of gratitude’

Are you ready for a new normal?

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

Recently my wife accidentally banged her toe against the leg of a chair.  Believing it was just bruised she carried on in the hopes that the sting and subsequent pain would just go away.  Not so fast.  Weeks went by and it continued to be bothersome only to learn that it was broken. Throughout this extended healing process both consciously and unconsciously thoughts of discomfort were ever present.    It curtailed her activity, limited the shoes she could wear and created anxiety in thinking it might never heal.  Yes, it thankfully got better and life returned to normal.

So what is the point, you may be asking?   When is the last time we were grateful that our toes, or any other part of our body for that matter, were fine?   This irony transcends more than just our body.  Do you remember the last time you did not have hot water for your shower or the electricity in your home wasn’t working?  Or your sent emails were hopelessly stalled in your Outbox?  Inconvenient for sure.  Yes, the gratitude comes when these issues are resolved and our lives return to normal.

The good news about these situations is they were able to return to normal.  There are other areas of our lives that do not. Think of a dear friend or family member who was an important part of your life but is no longer here—the  pain of this loss and the grieving that followed were likely profound.

What is the common element that weaves through these stories?  It is often not until something is either temporarily, or worse yet, permanently lost that we remember how important it has been in our lives.

What a perfect time of year to be more conscious of this tendency and better yet, create a new normal.   Consciously value and be grateful for all you have.  Cherish it.  Everything.  This can happen in very simple, new habits. Consider those who say grace before each meal have three times a day to express explicit gratitude for all one’s blessings.   A friend of mine recently shared with me that he has converted his feelings of impatience while waiting at a stoplight to moments of expressing gratitude.

At this time of Thanksgiving, it is a perfect time to give some thought to a new practice that can lead you to a new behavior of gratitude.  It is often said that a new behavior can be created with just 21 repetitions.  However many it takes, imagine the elevation of the joyfulness in your life when you are able to manifest this “new normal”.

With gratitude,
Walter Green

When One’s Imagination and Perception Becomes One’s Reality

Monday, September 1st, 2014

Even though most of us believe that our imagination and perceptions are accurate, when they are confirmed it is very reaffirming.

During my yearlong journey of gratitude, some five years ago, I traveled around the United States and abroad to meet with 44 people who have been very important in my life.  During these visits I was very explicit in my expressions of deep appreciation for all that they had done for me. It was not only a gratifying experience but I also imagined that I would never have any regrets in the future for things I wish I had said when any of these 44 individuals pass on.

One of the 44 on my journey was Dr. Fred Jervis.   He was an extraordinary human being and no one taught me more about a way of thinking than Fred.   He was a real life changer for me and for many of the people I have coached over the years and for thousands of others.

As a student at the University of New Hampshire, he played varsity baseball and basketball. His education was interrupted by war. As a lieutenant in the 11th Armored Division, he lost his sight in a mine explosion in Germany.  Notwithstanding, Fred completed his education at UNH and earned a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University. He served as Director of the Counseling Center at UNH and then as Professor of Psychology. He also completed a post-doctoral fellowship in organizational theory at Harvard Business School. Fred left academia after 20 years to found the Center for Constructive Change in Durham, along with his wife, Janis. The Center provided educational and consulting services to a wide array of individuals and entities and I was blessed to be one of them.

It is not possible for me in a short piece to adequately express how much this man meant in my life.  When I visited with him in his home in New Hampshire in 2009, I was able to more fully express the specific ways that he impacted my life.  It was so gratifying to have made this opportunity.

At the time, I both perceived and imagined that when Fred passed away that I would not have any regrets for things I wish I had expressed to him.

Sadly, Fred passed away last week.  I indeed felt no regrets for anything I might have said.  It reconfirmed what I had previously imagined and perceived and it was very reaffirming indeed.   Losing someone who has been very special in your life is always difficult and sad but to not have any regrets for things you might have said makes this passing less painful.

It is with this new “reality” that I encourage each of you to express your gratitude while everyone is alive and well.

Gratitude Reflects Itself in Many Gifts – Extraordinary Time-Lapse Photography

Friday, April 4th, 2014

For those of you who have read my previous postings as well as my book, This Is The Moment, you know my doorway into gratitude has been from the expression of profound gratitude to those who have made important contributions in our lives.   I have been deeply touched by hearing so many stories from those who have acted on this awareness by expressing gratitude while the expresser and recipient is still alive and well.

Over the last few years, I have also relished expanding my awareness and appreciation of gratitude in so many other dimensions of my life.   One of my first encounters of gratitude begins each day when my eyes open after a night’s sleep and I realize I have another day to do the things that give my life meaning.   I then take my morning shower by just turning a handle.  Out flows wonderfully clean hot and cold water easily adjusted by just a little twist.   I often think “how does this work” along with the realization that I could never build this mechanical wonder.  Gratitude flows over me like the flowing water.  My appreciation is further magnified when using a small block of soap to create a cleansing action that is truly remarkable.  Although this idea dates back 5,000 years, could any of us make it from scratch?  In any case, we do not have to and for that my morning gratitude is accentuated.

These moments of gratitude then make me think about so many of the other life-enriching experiences throughout the day—truly all special gifts.  I think one of the most poignant pieces on this subject was produced by Louis Schwartzberg, the Founder of Blacklight Films and shown at a Tedx Conference in San Francisco.

Louie Schwartzberg’s  amazing time-lapsed photography coupled with the words of a Benedictine monk will not disappoint.  Trust me, in less than 10 minutes, it is likely you will appreciate the “gift of another day” and it will not be “just another day.”

Enjoy!

With Gratitude,
Walter Green

The Science of Happiness

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

Some of you may have already seen this video, and it is well worth viewing again.  For those of you who haven’t, take a couple of minutes and take it all in.

How surprising that the person who experienced the biggest jump in happiness was the person who was the least happy at the beginning of the experiment!

Lessons from Surgery and the Role of Gratitude

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

I just recovered from the removal of my gall bladder and this healing time has given me an opportunity to reflect on my experience.

Here were some of my key reflections that may have some relevance the next time you have to encounter surgery.  It is clearly not to be an all-inconclusive list.

Lesson 1.  Routine and common does not mean easy or without significant stress or the potential of complications. Should you do it and how you do it are key questions to consider.

Lesson 2. Focus on the “what” before the “how”. Invest as much time on getting clarity and being explicit about the key considerations that will be the basis for you to decide what you will do.

Lesson 3. Inquire as to what could happen during and after the surgery.  Don’t focus on the possibilities, instead what to expect so you can minimize any highly stressful post-surgery surprises

Lesson 4. Find a surgeon who has done lots of the intended procedure and whose track record is exemplary. Peace of mind is essential before, during and after the procedure.

Lessson 5.  Caregiver and/or advocates are invaluable. I was blessed to have my wife, Lola as my caregiver and my gatekeeper. She sent thoughtful group update emails when she knew I needed to rest and recover rather than have me speak to so many wonderful well-wishers when I was not up to it.

Lesson 6.   Eliminate future questions as to “what did my doctor say?” Get the consent of your doctor and record your conversations (I would be concerned if they did not agree).  I was amazed that even when I thought I was listening carefully during my appointments, I forgot some salient points I heard when I replayed the recording.

Lesson 7.  The Role of Gratitude.  Opportunities for gratitude abound. Appreciation for the great surgeon, the medical team, the hospital and staff, the technology, the caregiver, friends and family to name a few.

I found gratitude in other places as well.  First, the loving thoughts, best wishes, blessings and prayers both before, during and after are very reassuring.  It reinforces our life purpose knowing that we make a difference in peoples’ lives.

It has been reported that prayers matter, even when the person being prayed for is unaware of it.

Finally, the personal gratification I had when I took my year-long journey to express my profound appreciation to those who had made a big difference in my life paid huge dividends once again.

When I was about to be given general anesthesia, I was optimistic that everything would be fine.  When the thought that there were no guarantees crossed my mind,  I was at such peace knowing that I had already expressed my gratitude to all who had been important to me.

This powerful concept will not only serve you when you are alive and well but also when your health and life is in some jeopardy.  Yet another reason to not defer the opportunity to express deep gratitude to those who have been important influencers in your life.

In Gratitude,
Walter Green

Father’s Day—A Perfect Time for Reflection and Gratitude

Friday, June 7th, 2013

Right about now, many of you may be thinking about this upcoming Father’s Day and what you might do to make it extra special.  If you are blessed and your father is still alive, consider the expression of appreciation for all that he has done for you over your lifetime.

I am reminded of the story of what one graduate student did after hearing me speak on the subject of my book, This is the Moment…How One Man’s Yearlong Journey Captured the Power of Extraordinary Gratitude. She was a night student and still living at home.  When she returned home the night of the lecture she made a list of all the contributions her father made to her life.  When her father arrived home later than evening, she asked him to join her in the living room indicating she had things that she would like to share with him.   He inquired, “About what?”  She responded, “About what you have meant to me.”  The father responded, “I know you love me.”   The daughter added “Dad, it is more than that.  I would love you to just sit with me for a few minutes so I can share my feelings with you.”   The father acquiesced and the daughter proceeded to express the specific contributions he had made to her life and what it has meant to her.  They both were in tears before the conversation was finished.   The father said at the end that it was one of the most heartwarming moments of his life.

It is not important whether you communicate these expressions of gratitude in person.  If you will not be with your father on Father’s Day, a letter would do just fine.  The important issue is that you do not miss the opportunity.

Whether your father is or is not alive, I would reflect on one additional question.  Who else is alive that has given you very helpful fatherly advice over the years?

We all know we are not self -made.  Was there a mentor, a teacher, someone in the older generation that made a difference in your life?

If you watched the recent running of the Preakness, the winning jockey was a Hall of  Fame rider by the name of Gary Stevens.  What makes this story even more remarkable is that Gary is 50 years old and has not raced in the last seven years and his horse, Oxbow was a 15 to 1 shot.  When the commentator asked how he was able to do it, Gary responded that his father has been very important to him but he is also so indebted to others who have given him advice and support over the years.  He then added, “If it weren’t for the encouragement and opportunity of Wayne Lucas, the world class horse trainer, I may have never raced again.  For sure, not be in the winner’s circle of The Preakness, one of horseracing Triple Crown.”

The odds of achieving lifelong dreams are a long shot in most of our lives.  Think about who has helped you get into your “winner’s circle” and let them know what they mean to you on this Father’s Day.

With gratitude,

Walter Green

Thank you, Ray Romano

Friday, January 25th, 2013

The Kennedy Center Honors is an annual event that was created to provide national recognition to individuals who throughout their lifetimes have made significant contribution to American culture through the performing arts.  My wife and I have watched this event on television for many years and consider it the most outstanding event of its kind.   We had the pleasure of attending this year’s event in person.

Kennedy Center Honors usually select five extraordinary people.  Tribute is paid to each of the recipients by individuals whose lives have been touched or in some way been significantly influenced by these people.

Ray Romano paid tribute to one of this year’s honorees, David Letterman.  He thanked him for the gigantic break that Letterman gave him early in his career when Letterman’s production company built a show around Ray Romano, Everybody Loves Raymond. I was thinking, what an extraordinary way to express profound gratitude to someone.

But here is the rest of the story.  Ray Romano became emotional during his tribute and his voice quivered when he acknowledged regretfully, “My father passed away, I never told him I loved him….I love you, David Letterman”.

Ray, in that one sentence, poignantly shared both the pain that one experiences from regrets for things we wish we had said to people who have profoundly influenced our lives as well as the joyfulness from acknowledging those people when they are alive.  Clearly demonstrating once again, “This Is the Moment”.

Thank you, Ray Romano.

A Thanksgiving Perspective

Monday, November 19th, 2012

My wife and I just returned from an extended trip to Asia where we celebrated our 50 years of marriage.  Yes, to the same person.   I can almost imagine your initial responses if you are American.  That’s great, immediately followed by “wow, they are old.”    When we think of old people in our culture, we think of social security, medical issues and senior discounts.

When we shared this significant life event with people on our travels in Asia, they were universally happy for us but more importantly, it elevated their esteem and respect for us.  It was as if we were being honored by them.  In their culture, older citizens are people who have had many important life experiences and the wisdom and strength that comes with it.

Same couple….different culture, different perspectives.  Both are valid observations.  The first view tends to distance people.  The latter connects people and adds richness to the experience and to the relationship.

So at this time of Thanksgiving, for younger people in particular, think of those who lived a generation or two longer than you as a source of wisdom and life experience.   Learn from them.  Equally important, if they are your parents or grandparents, or their contemporaries, and have had an important impact on your life in any way, express your gratitude to them.  You will be the better for it and it will enhance your relationship not to mention the joy that the person would feel knowing they have made a difference in your life.  This Is the Moment!

You’re Never Too Young for Expressing Gratitude

Monday, October 1st, 2012

One is never too young, or is it ever too soon, when it comes to expressing deep gratitude.

I have had the pleasure to speak with several thousand people since my book, This Is the Moment, was released.

Most often the audiences were comprised of men and women of middle age or older and usually very successful in their professional and personal lives.

My desired outcome of these presentations was to inspire the audience to act on my message of expressing gratitude while everyone was alive and well.  Not only will future regrets be eliminated but the experience will be very gratifying for both the giver and the recipients.  Thousands of people to date confirm exactly that.

The idea then occurred to me.  If it is such a good idea to develop this capacity when one is older, wouldn’t it be even more valuable if one learned this practice earlier in one’s life?

So when the opportunity was given me to speak to teenage students who attended The Elementary Institute of Science in San Diego, I was pleased to do so.

During my presentation, I challenged the students to reach out and express gratitude to just one person who has been really important to them and, if they did, I would love to hear what the experience was like.

Here is some of what they wrote to me after acting on my challenge.

“I could not have survived without my mother.  My mother inspires me to be the best I can be.”

Another said to her grandmother, “I can’t tell you how much you mean to me and what it has meant to me to have you take care of me since I was one year old”.

Another said, “As soon as I expressed to my mother how much she meant to me and my gratitude for her clothing and nurturing me since I was born, I immediately began to think of other people I wanted to express gratitude to.  I felt if I could say those things to my mom, I could say those things to other people”

And one more.  This teenager expressed gratitude for her really good friend who helped her through a really rough time in her life.  The friend was surprised and touched and it strengthened their friendship.

After receiving these letters, I reaffirmed my deep belief that the benefits of expressing gratitude to those who have been really important to us are relevant no matter what our age or demographic.   One is indeed never too young and it is never too soon!!

If you’ve been on the giving or receiving end of an expression of profound gratitude, I’d love to hear your story.  Please share it privately at Share Your Story or publicly in the Comments section below.

Grateful Wife Makes Exceptional Ambassador for Expression of Gratitude

Monday, June 4th, 2012

I had the real pleasure to receive a very special message of gratitude through the Share Your Story page of this website and with permission of the author I am excited to share it with all of you.

Barb Kryke wrote a wonderful letter to her husband, Ron. As you will see by the reprinted version of her message below, expressing profound love and deep gratitude was definitely “within her reach.”  I was touched by her capacity to acknowledge and express the impact her husband has had on her life.

My dearest husband,

I know that first and foremost in all my thoughts, is my gratitude that you have entered my life. You have the greatest soul, modest nature, and the sweetest, most loving heart I have ever known.  I am, and will always be in awe that this meeting of hearts and minds and souls is not coincidental, but a purposeful life brought together by God.

I thank you for showing me how hard I am capable of working, far beyond my wildest dreams. Your encouragement and unending faith in me has now and forever, shaped me as the whole person I dreamed of becoming.  My love, my reverence, my admiration for you, is not measurable by human means and far outreach my ability to express, in words, how incredibly grateful I am that your love for me is perfect.


My warmth,
Your loving wife



When I reached out to Barb to find out more about her experience, she was kind enough to indulge me by answering a couple of questions.

  1. What did it feel like to express this profound gratitude to your husband?

I was moved by my own words. I am, by nature, reflective and use each morning and night to breathe in my good fortune. I am blessed to have the ability to express my gratitude for my husband, daughters, friends and 7th grade students.

  1. Do you have a sense of what it meant to him?

Ron texted me, “You brought me tears of joy with your letter of gratitude.  I adore you.” I guess that says it all.

Barb is indeed blessed on so many levels. My hope is that everyone reading this will be inspired by Barb’s story and will reach out to a significant relationship and express profound gratitude.

I would be honored if you shared your story here on this website.  Simply go to Share Your Story and send me a message.