Posts Tagged ‘expressing profound gratitude’

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.

Many Years of Fly-Fishing Brought Them to this Gratitude Moment

Friday, April 6th, 2012

I received a very moving story of an expression of gratitude that I would like to share with you.  The reason I’m sharing this particular story is because it vividly demonstrates how we can spend years of meaningful time with someone important to us and never take the time to articulate to that person the magnitude of that person’s impact on our life.

Jim heard a recent presentation of mine on the importance of expressing profound gratitude.  It not only resonated with him but he acted on it.  Here is Jim’s story as he shared it with me.

In 1993 I met Bill, a fly-fishing guide, during a trip to Alaska. Life hands you opportunities for letting people come into and remain in your life, and so it was with Bill.  In the nearly 20 years since, we figure we have spent over a year fishing, ending our days together over a campfire, enjoying a cigar, a single malt, and conversation.  There is no man in the world who knows me as well as Bill does.

In our last trip, over a campfire on a cold early winter evening in the high country of Arizona, I expressed my gratitude to Bill.  He has helped me truly understand and enjoy the outdoors.  His constant patience with my less-than-ideal casting abilities, points to his roots as a teacher who has never stopped teaching.  No matter what issue or problem I might be facing, I know that I have a sympathetic ear and someone who will tell it to me “with the bark on.”

Well, we have found over the years that we have gotten more emotional.  We shed a few tears that evening, and had to resort to another dram to buck up our spirits.

Think about it for a moment.  Is there someone who has been important to you over the years that you have yet to express your profound gratitude for their impact on your life?  Likely so.  Do not miss the opportunity while everyone is alive and well.  You will be enriched by the experience not to mention you will not have to deal with the all too often regrets for things that have been left unsaid.

If you need guidance on how to express profound gratitude, download your Free Guide to Creating Your Own Gratitude Expressions at the bottom of this page.

Why New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s Mother Was Speechless

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

A few nights ago I heard Oprah interviewing NJ Governor Chris Christie. When the topic of the profound influence his mother had on him was brought up he shared a story from when she had just two days to live. On that Friday morning that he sat with her she asked him why he was not at work. In her mind it was 9:30 am on a workday, where else should he have been?

His loving response to her was that he was where he wanted to be. To that his mother simply replied, “There is nothing left unsaid between us. You should be at work.” Governor Christie was fortunate in at least two respects. Firstly, he knew that his mother had a short time to live and was able to spend it with her. Secondly, everything that was to be said had been said.

Since the vast majority of us will not know when people who have been important to us will die, wouldn’t it serve us, and them, to make sure nothing is unsaid? How much better it feel to know that we shared all of our love, respect, admiration and gratitude before it was too late?

Many of us know all too well about the regret of words unsaid. Fortunately I also know how enriching it is to take the time to express profound gratitude to significant relations when there is no impending separation. I was blessed to have the opportunity to take a yearlong journey to express my gratitude for the people who made the most significant influences on my life.

I encourage you to feel what it is like to have “nothing left unsaid between us.” Reach out and create an opportunity you might otherwise regret missing. If you are not sure how to get started, download your Free Guide to Creating Your Own Gratitude Expressions at the bottom of this page.

What Regis Philbin’s Memoir, How I Got This Way Teaches Us About Regret

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

If you have watched any talk shows or you’ve even skimmed the New York Times book release lists lately, you have probably seen Regis Philbin or his name mentioned frequently. The former talk show host of Live with Regis and Kelly! just released his memoir entitled, How I Got This Way. In it he shares stories about his many years in showbiz, and takes the opportunity to thank all of the “unexpected teachers” he had in his life. Many of these people are still around to benefit from the praise he bestows on them within the pages of his book. Some, unfortunately, will never see his expressions of gratitude in print. It is my hope that Regis had the opportunity to share his feelings with people such as legendary Notre Dame coach Frank Leahy before his passing in the early 1970s. (You certainly didn’t need to follow Regis’ daily show to know how much he respected the former coaches of his alma mater.)

Memoirs can be bitter sweet to many authors. There is a deep sense of love for the process of sharing the successes and lessons of your life with others. On the other hand, there can be sadness and regret about words left unsaid.

So why are memoirs not a great way to express gratitude to the significant people in your life? I know too well how involved the process of writing a book can be and I would certainly not recommend it as an easy way to express gratitude. In addition, by the time many of us would have the available time and breath of stories to share in a memoir, some, or even many of our life’s influencers may no longer be around to enjoy it.

You don’t have to be a celebrity, or an aspiring author to express profound gratitude and enrich your significant relationships. You only need to find a way that best suits you and your influencers; it could be in the form of a song, a poem, a letter, an in-person event, a video, and much more.

Have you expressed gratitude towards someone who has made an impact on your life lately? How did you do it? What benefits did you both get from the experience? I would love to hear your story and with your permission, share it here on this site.

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.

Mentee and Mentor Express Gratitude After 23 years

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

For many of us we have been blessed to have great teachers, influencers and mentors in our lives.  They helped shape who we are, what career paths we took and what we gave back to our communities.  We think of them often, recounting lessons and laughter, and our intention is to reconnect if for no other reason than to thank them for being in our lives at what turned out to be the perfect time.  Time goes by – months, years and decades and our good intentions stay with us but we don’t always act on them.

Twenty-three years ago a colleague and friend of mine, Christine was a senior English major in college and was spending her last semester student teaching at Milton Hershey High School in Pennsylvania.  Her supervising teacher on staff was Jim Cudworth who was in his twelfth year of teaching and would go on to spend his entire thirty-three year teaching career at Milton Hershey.

After she graduated and moved across the country to California, Christine stayed in contact with Jim through handwritten letters but their correspondence fell off after a couple of years.   She thought of Jim often, especially when his lessons were in the forefront of her mind during various life experiences.  She always had the intention to reconnect with him but never reached out.

After reading my book, This is the Moment! Christine was inspired to not let any more time pass to set her intentions into action.  She did all of the modern techniques to try to find Jim – she Googled him, looked him up on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, all with no success.  She would often give up her search temporarily and then try again a few weeks later.  After a couple of months of this routine, she finally did an online search for Jim and his wife and stumbled upon a funeral notice for his wife’s mother that took place more than a year ago.  Within the announcement it listed Jim, his wife and the town where they were now living in Pennsylvania.  As she tells the story, “I decided to go old-school and actually pick up the phone.  I called 411 and asked for his phone number based on the town of record in the announcement.”  She did not hesitate and dialed the number immediately.  His wife answered and she explained that he was out on a bike ride and she was happy to give him a message.

Christine began with, “Well, he probably doesn’t remember me but I was his student teacher in 1987-88.” To that Jim’s wife responded, “Oh I am sure he remembers you.” Christine thought that was a very kind thing to say but she was not completely convinced he would remember her.

That evening Jim called her back.  He started the conversation with a comment that made Christine’s heart fill with the warmth only a good friend can provide, no matter how much time has passed.  “Of course I remember you I have been quoting you for 23 years.”  Jim explained that some of Christine’s observations during their few months working together had made such an impact on him that he not only remembered the lessons she taught him, but used her words to share them with his colleagues for the last two decades.

That first conversation lasted two hours and it was filled with each of them taking turns sharing fun stories, lessons learned and tremendous gratitude for what each one of them meant and still means to one another.  Just the simple act of retelling a story provided new insights into how grateful they were to have been involved in each other’s lives at just the right time.

As it turned out both Jim and Christine had regrets for things unsaid, paths not taken and correspondence not maintained.  Within hours of their phone call long emails were exchanged and although they live 3,000 miles away from each other, a date has already been set to reconnect during Christine’s next East Coast trip in less than a month.

This is a heartwarming and very common story that occurs between a mentor and a mentee.  We often believe the mentor’s role is to teach and impart wisdom on behalf of the mentee.  However, what we don’t always realize and acknowledge is the influence the mentee has to bring forth new observations, fresh ideas and in Christine and Jim’s case, a shared sense of humor that lighten even the toughest days in the classroom.

Thankfully it was not too late for Christine to share with Jim what a tremendous impact he made on her life and how grateful she was to him for all of the lessons (professionally and personally) he taught her.

We all have good intentions to reconnect and share our gratitude – what is stopping you?  Where is the hesitation coming from?  Remember, hesitation is just one step from taking action.  Start searching for that long-lost mentee or mentor.  Don’t experience the pain of regret that comes from waiting too long to reach out. Do it today!

I feel blessed that Christine shared her story with me.  If you have a similar story about expressing profound gratitude to someone who has impacted your life, please click on the Share Your Story page of this website and send me the details.  I would love to hear it and with your permission, share it on the This is the Moment! blog.

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What does Gratitude and a Bucket List Have in Common?

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Do you have a bucket list?  Do you think you’re too young to have your dream experiences written down or too old to still make them happen?  You are never too young to make a list of all the wonderful things you wish to do and see.  You are also never too old to still capture some of your special unfilled dreams.

I recently had the thrill of accomplishing a feat that has been on my list of important achievements I would like to do before I die.  For years when I listen to music in my home or car, I added to my enjoyment by simulating the experience of conducting the musicians.   I believed being an orchestra conductor could combine my desire to create beautiful music with the enjoyment of bringing out the most in people (in this case musicians) and my pleasure to influence and control 70 to 100 musicians through the movement of my arms, eyes, and body.

Three weeks ago, when the conductor of the Desert Symphony Orchestra said he was going to auction off the opportunity to conduct this fine orchestra to an audience of more than 1,000 people at the McCallum Theatre, I was all in.  I was ultimately the highest bidder and was blessed to conduct John Phillip Souza’s “The Washington Post” to open the concert last week.

So how does completing an item on a bucket list compare to expressing profound gratitude to those who have been important in my life as was the main focus of my yearlong journey of gratitude (my “victory lap”)?

As I reflected on this question, I concluded that in some ways it was the same but in some aspects it was different.

Bucket lists are intended to be done before we die which was the case with my yearlong journey of gratitude captured in my book, This is the Moment.  This journey was intended to not only reach out and visit people who have been important to me while they are alive and well but to encourage others to “do it now”.

Just like the cost of completing items on one’s bucket list could be minor, so is the act of expressing profound gratitude.  Doing it in an extraordinary way does not have to cost any significant expenditures of money.  A good example of this is the “44 cents” story I share in the book about a friend who was able to communicate how important a lifelong friend was to him with the use of two pieces of paper, an envelope and a 44-cent stamp.

Bucket lists and expressions of extraordinary gratitude also share a build-up of excitement, anticipation, anxiety and ultimately a feeling of sheer joy when it’s completed.

A bucket list could include reaching out and reconnecting with people but more often than not it refers to travel adventures and unique experiences.

Items on a bucket list could be the same activity for you as they could be for your friends and loved ones (bungee jumping, Alaskan cruise, etc.), but an expression of extraordinary gratitude is unique to each and every expression.  Each expression is different, which is what makes adding it to your bucket list so special.

I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight that the most important aspect that one’s bucket list and expressing extraordinary gratitude is that these are life opportunities that should not be missed.

It is never too early to add expressions of gratitude to your bucket list, but it can be too late.  Don’t let this opportunity pass you by.  Connect with your significant relationships today.

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Introducing a Very Special Person…

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

This past weekend I had the pleasure to speak to members of the Chief Executive Organization and their spouses at a conference in Las Vegas.  In the audience was a CEO of a major financial firm who was to introduce the speaker following my presentation.

As the CEO finished describing the speaker’s impressive achievements in developing Las Vegas into the entertainment, gambling and convention center mecca that it is today, he took a few minutes to add an impromptu expression of profound gratitude.  He addressed the audience with, “I want to add a few more remarks that were inspired by Walter’s earlier presentation.”  He proceeded to describe his heartfelt gratitude for all this man had done for him and the impact he had on him over more than two decades.  It was obviously done spontaneously and he became very emotional.

It was a remarkable moment on several counts.  First, it was clearly a tribute that the person was so very pleased to be able to give.  Second, the recipient of his praise was also moved.  Last but not least, it was a remarkable demonstration for the whole audience in not only the power of expressing gratitude but also the logic of doing it now.  It was clear that the message of This Is the Moment resonated with the audience but it was doubly gratifying for me to hear it beautifully modeled within moments following my presentation.

If you had an opportunity to introduce someone who made a significant impact in your life, what would you share with the audience?  What memories would come to mind?  It only takes a few moments to make an impromptu and heartfelt expression of gratitude.

Reach out to someone today and make them center stage.  I’d love to hear your dedication.   Please share them with our gratitude community in the comments section below or share your story confidentially by clicking here .

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