Posts Tagged ‘expressions of profound gratitude’

And the Ripples of Gratitude Keep Flowing

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Since the publication of my book, This Is The Moment, it has been more than exciting to hear and see the multitude of ways people have chosen to express explicit gratitude to those who have been important in their lives.

Before I share two stories, I want to emphasize that it matters not how you choose to express your gratitude. What does matter is that you do it … whether as a personal meeting, a letter, a poem, or even a phone call.  Clearly the recipient will appreciate it.   What is not as obvious is that you will not only feel better for having done so but will never have any regrets in the future for not having done it.

With that preamble, here are a couple of “gratitude ripples” that were recently brought to my attention.   First,  three years ago I was the keynote speaker at the Council on Alcoholism  and Drug Abuse (CADA)’s luncheon celebrating their highly successful Fighting Back Mentor Program in Santa Barbara, CA.   Since I was speaking on the message of gratitude, it was decided by the organizers that the participating supporters would be asked to fill their tables with people who have provided guidance, friendship, support and advice along their life’s journey.  During the luncheon they had the opportunity to give an explicit thank you to all those at their table who had made a real difference in their lives.  I just received a note from the person who organized the original luncheon saying that it was so successful that they have repeated the theme every year since and just held their 4th Annual Gratitude Luncheon.  This one idea has already influenced a multitude of people.

The second example of how the message is being expressed was offered by American Greetings, the largest greeting card company in the world.  After engaging two research companies who confirmed the value and the hesitancy of expressing gratitude, they developed what they are calling the ThankList, differentiating it from a Bucket List.  They not only developed an offering of cards to facilitate the expressions of gratitude, they produced five short films created by two-time Oscar winner, Barbara Kopple, each of them approximately five minutes long, which were amazing and I encourage you to watch them.  Here is the link to view these well-done videos………American Greetings ThankList videos. (Click on Watch button on the left, after the Intro.)

Hopefully these ideas will stimulate not only your thinking about who might be on your list of people to express gratitude for their influence on your life, but more importantly, it will motivate you to take action.  I am confident after you do one, you will do more.

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.

Think Out of the Box on this Father’s Day

Monday, June 9th, 2014

For years, most sons and daughters are challenged by what they should “buy” for their dad on Father’s Day. Often it is a nice shirt or some other functional gift. That would earn a “medal” for sure but maybe only a bronze because it’s a thing. A silver medal would go to those who verbally expressed gratitude and gave something. But for me, the gold medal goes to the son/daughter who thinks outside of the (gift) box and writes something in addition to giving an object. The written gift never stops giving.

I remember two years ago, on Father’s Day, when I received heartwarming, handwritten cards from our grown twin sons. They were so special I framed them. I read them often and every time it warms my heart and I count my blessings. They also gave me a “thing” with the card but I have long forgotten what that was.

Another out-of-the-box way to celebrate Father’s Day is to think of someone, other than your Father, who may have given you some very valuable advice or supported you in a meaningful way. The person could have been your uncle, grandfather, mentor or just a mature male friend. In any case, it may have even been a road-changer in your life. What about reaching out and communicating your gratitude to this person on Father’s Day?

I read an article in the USA Today this week about Mike Emrick, an extraordinary sportscaster in the hockey world. The piece describes his current mission to write a letter every day to each person who made a difference in his life. He thinks it could take him a year or two to finish. I am certain that many of these people had given him “fatherly” advice and he was most grateful.

So on this Father’s Day, give the gift of gratitude in written form to your Father and anyone else who has made a significant contribution to your life. It will always be the perfect size and color! I promise you it will not only make their day but also enrich their life.

To read the full article about Mike Emrick’s thank-you-card campaign, click here.

With gratitude,
Walter Green

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

High School Basketball Teaches Humanity

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Talk about a “game changer”.  What a remarkable civilization we would have if this was in fact the way all “games in life” were played.  As a starter, the next time we encounter a person with a challenge or find ourselves  in a competitive situation, think about how Coach Peter Morales or #22 Jonathan Montanez would have handled it.

You can watch the short and inspiring video here.

All my best,
Walter Green

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.

An Exceptional Holiday Gift Everyone Can Afford

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

We have all seen the TV ads for Black Friday and our mailboxes are being filled with retail advertisements for holiday shopping.  For many of us the experience of gift giving is stressful not only because we feel the need to buy the perfect gift, but we also feel pressure to spend money at a time when budgets are tight.

Make the most of this holiday season with a personal, thoughtful and inexpensive gift that will be a perfect “fit.”

There is nothing more personal than a gift of explicit gratitude to someone who has made a real difference in your life. This is a gift only you can give and in doing so, it is likely that you will enrich your life, enhance your relationship and bring joy to the recipient.

I recognize that it’s highly unlikely that anyone will take a journey similar to my yearlong victory lap. I was fortunate to have the time and resources to devote to this significant undertaking, and it was also important for me to do it in this way.

All of our life circumstances are different, however, and our processes and journeys will of course go in various directions. I did things my way, and you should do them your way. For example, you don’t have to travel around the country having face-to-face conversations with people. If you do want to meet in person, you can start with those close to home and schedule others during vacations, holiday visits, business trips, and so forth.

Writing a letter costs the paper it’s written on and a stamp, and e-mails and phone calls are virtually free. In other words, everyone can afford to make these expressions of gratitude. The investment is low and the payoff is high, and there are so few opportunities in life that this can be said for. How you go about conveying your messages is entirely up to you; just design a way that’s meaningful but doable (and affordable) for you.

In my book This Is The Moment! I share a story entitled “44-cent stamp.”  It is the real-life tale of two marines that had a relationship spanning over a half a century.  My friend, one of the marines shared with me that by writing a letter to his dying friend took just 15 minutes required only two pieces of paper, an envelope, and a 44-cent stamp but in doing so gave him amazing peace of mind and closure to this all important relationship.

Take a few moments this holiday season to give the perfect gift.  I’d love to hear how you expressed profound gratitude and the reactions it created.

Ripples of Gratitude

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

In the short time since I completed my personal victory lap, I’ve started hearing about how it’s also serving others who weren’t part of my journey, and even people that I’ve never met. I hope you find the following story as fascinating as I do.

48 Hours

One driven businessman in his 40s, who heard about my journey from a mutual friend, said that it was life-changing for him. It enabled him to renew his relationship with his grandmother, who’d done everything for him when he was younger except give birth to him.

This man hadn’t visited his grandmother in some time because he had no patience for spending time with an 88-year-old who, like many elderly people, tended to repeat stories and was hard of hearing. But now he was inspired to call her on a Friday night, and he simply listened to her for an hour. “She so appreciated my time,” he said.

The experience made him feel so good that he called her again the next day, talked for another 45 minutes, and then invited her to Sunday brunch. She was so excited that she said she was going to visit the beauty parlor in anticipation of the outing.

When the man and his grandmother saw each other, they cried, realizing how much they valued and missed each other. “There won’t be another 48 hours of my life that goes by without my calling her,” he vowed.

Have you been putting off expressing gratitude to someone significant in your life?  Or have you shared your gratitude and enriched a relationship?  I would love to hear your story and share it with our community.  Please use the Comments section below or send me a private message by using the Share Your Story form on this website.

The preceding is an excerpt from This is the Moment!:  How One Man’s Yearlong Journey Captured the Power of Extraordinary Gratitude (Hay House, October, 2010)

How much have we learned from others….and do they know it?

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

It is said that experience is the best teacher and there is no question that we can learn a lot from real world encounters.  We also learn a lot from being inquisitive and having a thirst for knowledge.

I believe the most successful people learn a lot from others throughout their lives and it begins with our teachers.  After our formal education, there are so many other people who offer us valuable insights, new ideas, better ways of doing things and so much more.

If learning is essential in our lives, let’s reflect on those who have taught us over the years.  Teachers, advisors, colleagues, consultants, therapists, friends, family, fitness trainers, and the list goes on.

It is likely that their contribution to our lives has been significant and maybe even profound.  Have we ever expressed our gratitude for some of the greatest gifts in life that we have received from them?

In many of my previous blog posts I have spoken about expressing profound gratitude and in some cases have provided specific ways to do so.

Let me share with you someone who taught me a great deal and some of what I said to him

I was fortunate to have someone who taught me about a thinking process that promoted both clarity as well as a process for achieving extraordinary results in both my personal and professional lives.  Some 35 years ago, Fred Jervis, the founder of The Center for Constructive Change taught me this creative way of thinking

During my yearlong journey of gratitude I visited with Fred to tell him all the ways it has influenced not only my life but the lives of so many that I have coached over the years.  Here is just a little of what I told him:

“I know you’ve influenced a lot of people, but just from my perspective, I want you to understand that not a day goes by that I don’t marvel in some way at the process of thinking that you brought to my life.  I came to tell you from the deepest places in my heart and my head and my soul how fortunate I’ve felt to have met you.  Im so indebted to you for what you’ve done for me and I want to let you know that when I am helping others, it’s paying forward what I’ve learned from you over these many years.”

I encourage everyone to start with just one person and someone who has taught you something very meaningful would be a wonderful place to start.  It could be a teacher, a parent, a colleague, or anyone else that comes to mind. It could be they taught you to love of a subject, to learn an avocation, how to live a more joyous and fulfilled life or how to maximize your talents in your work life.

Now that you have identified the person, take out a piece of paper and make bullet points of the impact this person has had on your life (you may find it helpful to get started by going to the bottom of this page and downloading a free guide to facilitate the process).

You have not captured the full power of expressing extraordinary gratitude until you actually deliver your thoughts to the person.  Whether you do it in a letter, an email, a phone call or in person is up to you.  If you have a talent for writing a poem or a song that would be very extraordinary.

After you deliver your message you will likely feel that you have enhanced your relationship, enriched your life, and achieved a peace of mind knowing that you will never have any regret in the future for things that could have been said but were not.

And for the rest of the story….your recipient will receive one of life’s most special gifts; the knowledge that he or she has made an important difference in the life of someone.

For more examples of how to create and deliver these expressions of gratitude and for tools on how to do it your way, read my book, This is the Moment.

How One Journey of Gratitude Changed My Reaction to Life Threatening Moments

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

After I completed my yearlong journey of gratitude described in This is the Moment,  my wife, Lola and I decided to go on a Caribbean cruise. Halfway into the trip, I felt chest pains and saw the ship’s doctor. He discovered that I had an abnormal EKG, and my blood pressure was 50 percent higher than it usually was. Given my father’s early death from a heart attack, I was afraid that I might be following in his footsteps.

Since the next port after the one we were on was a remote island with no hospital or airport, I had to make an immediate decision about what to do. I chose to leave the ship and fly home so that I could consult my own doctors. As it turned out, it was a muscular problem in the chest area, and I’m fine.

This was not the first time I’d had to cut a cruise short. Just two years earlier, Lola and I had embarked upon one in the Mediterranean. A few days into the cruise, I began experiencing what was initially diagnosed as indigestion but which turned out to be a life-threatening strangulated hernia. I had to leave the ship immediately, and I found myself on the island of Corsica, where I knew no one and had no resources. Frankly, I was panicked on top of being seriously ill.

I was overwhelmed by the fear of losing my life, but I had another source of anxiety as well. I knew in my heart and soul that I hadn’t said everything I really wanted to say to those who have mattered in my life.

That experience and my subsequent one in the Caribbean were like before-and-after emotional x-rays. I had two similar circumstances with two very different reactions. On the cruise we took after my year of gratitude, I was no longer overwhelmed by those emotions when faced with a life-or-death situation. I felt peaceful knowing that those significant people unequivocally knew how important they were in my life. Plus, there was an audio recording of our conversation that they could listen to if something happened to me. In turn, I knew how everyone felt about me, and it was as if I’d already been to my own funeral and heard the eulogies.

This sense of completeness was never a part of my intentions for my gratitude journey, but it turned out to be a profound by-product of it. If that peace of mind had been the only outcome, then my journey was worth taking. I came to this epiphany in that moment when I thought my life might possibly end prematurely.

How would you feel about your relationships if you, or someone significant in your life, became seriously ill?  Would you have regret for what was unsaid?  Or would you feel at peace knowing you communicated to those who are important to you how grateful you are for their contributions to your life.

Don’t wait to connect with those people who have impacted your life.  Make a brief list of how one, just one, person made a difference in your life, and reach out to him/her today.  If you aren’t sure how to start or you need help verbalizing your thoughts, download the free guide available at the bottom of this page by simply typing in your email address.