Posts Tagged ‘ignite sparks’

Winners of February’s Gratitude Contest Share Their Stories – Part 1

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Last month I invited people to share their stories of expressing profound gratitude to people who made a significant impact on their lives and I am so pleased to announce the two winners of February’s Gratitude Contest.

Joan Valley of New Franken, WI

Andy Monfried of Norwood, NJ

Both of our winners have graciously offered to share their stories with us here.  Today I would like to include Joan’s message to a generous colleague.  Andy’s letter to his grandmother will be posted in a follow-up blog, to be published this Thursday, March 10th.

My hope in writing This Is the Moment was that it would ignite sparks of gratitude and in time, who knows, maybe create a wildfire.  I loved Joan’s expression of gratitude to her colleague, Ron, who had made such a difference in her life.  Joan also reached out and found 45 people who also wanted to share their gratitude to Ron, which made this recognition even more special.

Joan Shares Her Story:

“My story on gratitude is centered on someone that I used to teach with.   After I had my first son 13 years ago I was working full-time as a high school teacher.  I have always loved teaching, but I really struggled having to leave my son while I was teaching. Anytime someone would check in and ask how I was doing I would break down and cry.  One day I went to my mailbox at work and there was a cassette program by Brian Tracy in there.  I thought someone put it in my mailbox on accident so I had our secretary post a note in our newsletter asking the staff if this was a mistake to come and see me.  No one responded.  So I listened to these tapes in my car during all my daily travels every single day.  The message that I was hearing in these tapes literally saved me.  This is where Ron comes in.  I suspected he may have done this as an act of kindness knowing how much I was struggling.  He would not admit it, however he smiled in a way that made me know it was him.  He did this knowing I needed it, but did not want credit for it.

That one act was not the only impact Ron made in my life.  We were both teaching the same class so I was fortunate to be able to meet with him every week.  He was so generous with his time.  He would run off all the copies for an upcoming unit for all of the teachers teaching this class and go through everything with us.  More than that, he was always upbeat, positive, optimistic, and happy; I could go on and on.  He would use quotes from Wayne Dyer and other spiritual teachers daily in his classroom.  It was the “quote of the day” on the board and students had to journal about the quote. He was known by staff as Mr. Positive.

After hearing your interview on Hay House with Diane Ray I was motivated while listening to write Ron a letter and let him know how much of a positive influence he had on my life and how much I appreciated him. Ron’s wife of 50 years passed away a few weeks ago so I thought this might lift his spirits a bit.  In addition to my letter I emailed the staff at my school asking for the first word that came to their mind when they thought of Ron.  Ron retired several years ago, but even so I received over 45 emails with a total of 70 words…people had a hard time just using one.  I put them in Wordle http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/2823659/RG and created this word cloud for Ron.  I sent all of this to him just this past December.

Thank you for your work Walter.  I am grateful to have heard your interview.  I can’t describe how I felt during the process of writing the letter, collecting the words and so on.  I addition Ron sent me a very thoughtful thank you letter that really meant a lot to me.”

Thank you, Joan.  I am grateful for your story and hope that it may ignite sparks of gratitude in others.

Don’t forget to check in on Thursday, March 10th to read Andy’s letter to his grandmother.  You will be truly inspired.

Mark your calendars – we will be running another contest in May for expressions for gratitude for mothers and grandmothers.  The winners will receive an autographed copy of This is the Moment! and with their permission, be featured in a blog. You have two months to enrich your relationships in a way you never imagined – have a conversation, write a letter, create a video, etc.

Book Giveaway in February for Sharing Your Story

Monday, January 31st, 2011

So far, many of you have already reached out and shared your stories of how wonderful it has been to express extraordinary gratitude to someone signification in your life.  They have been both heartfelt and inspiring and some of them have been featured on this site.

In honor of those significant relationships, I am sponsoring a free book giveaway in the month of February.    I will be giving away two autographed copies of This is the Moment! to the two best submissions to my website. In addition, with your permission only, your story will be featured in a blog and it could inspire others to have extraordinary expressions of gratitude.

All you need to do to enter the giveaway is submit your story of a real, heartfelt conversation, video, poem, letter, song, etc. that you communicated to someone who has made a significant impact on your life.

Submissions will be accepted for the entire month of February, so if you haven’t expressed gratitude yet, you have time before it is too late. (All stories are kept confidential unless you provide permission to publish.)

Do this for YOU!

I am confident you can help ignite sparks that can transform the way people express deep gratitude thereby enriching their lives and the lives of others.

Click here and submit your story to win a free autographed copy of This is the Moment! It makes a great gift.

With appreciation,

Walter Green,

Join me on Facebook! http://www.facebook.com/WalterAGreen

Let’s connect on Twitter! http://twitter.com/WalterAGreen

Inspirational Story of How We Get By Giving

Friday, January 28th, 2011

I find it tremendously gratifying and inspiring to hear from people that were touched by my gratitude journey and my book, This is the Moment.  I recently received an incredible story from a reader and with his permission I am sharing excerpts with you.

I thought Raymond’s your love story for his wife, Doris was both remarkable and refreshing and I am so grateful that he shared it with me.


If compassion, love and generosity in marriage were the basis of a distinguished honor, Raymond would clearly be a frontrunner for a lifetime achievement award.  He not only “walks the walks” but he is so articulate and expressive.  It is a brilliant example of how “we get by giving”

“Often marriages are put to the test when couples are confronted with financial problems or if a spouse is stricken with chronic illnesses.  All marriage will go through good and bad times.  But if couples stick to one another during those rough times, the relationship will improve steadily as time goes by.

I am a caregiver to my wife, Doris Lau who was stricken with schizophrenia at the tender age of 17.  Schizophrenia is the most distressing of all mental disorders.  It is an illness that is often camouflaged and many people who are inexperienced in managing this illness may at first believe that the sufferer showing irritable, moody and suspicious behavior has a bad personality or is ill behaved.

Coping with the symptoms of schizophrenia can be extremely difficult for family members who remember how active a person was before he/she became ill.  This illness is terrifying because it is unpredictable.  It requires 24-hour, minute-to-minute care.  After caring for Doris for more than thirty-three years, I am now more alert to the warning signs of schizophrenia.

Many people find it very hard to believe that I married Doris despite her mental illness.   So why did I marry Doris?  Unlike the many girls that I dated, Doris was very down-to-earth.  I found her to be sincere and caring.  This was the woman that would change my life – dramatically.

And having witnessed how my mother suffered at the hands of my abusive father, I swore that if I ever got married, I would never walk my father’s path.  I told myself that the woman I marry, whoever she is, I will love forever.  Though it is an arduous and painful journey for me to manage my wife’s dreaded schizophrenia for more than three decades, I often draw my strength and compassion from Jesus.  Can you imagine what will happen to Doris if she had married the wrong man?

Today, my wife has a total of five illnesses, including schizophrenia, arthritis, diabetes, high cholesterol and incontinence.  Being the sole caregiver to my wife for more than three decades is no easy feat and I have suffered burnout so many times.

The good news is that through my love, encouragement and support, I have managed to turn Doris into an author of not one, but 5 books.  This is a remarkable achievement for someone suffering from a serious mental disorder.

Through the many talks that I have given, I have always mentioned that people with mental illness just need one person to love them and with medication, they will recover.

Doris has often asked me if I would ever marry again if she should pass on before I do.  To this I answer,

“No one will ever replace you in my heart, Doris.  I will live in your memory for the rest of my remaining life.  I will be contended to know that in heaven, you will no longer be tormented by illnesses that has torn your mind and body apart.  Please wait for me up there, for I want to be reunited with you once again, my dearest Doris. If I have to start life all over again, I will still choose you and no other.”

P.S: Raymond runs a website at: http://www.rayofhope.per.sg/

What in inspiring and fabulous story of love, dedication and appreciation.  How wonderful that Raymond can express his love so openly to Doris and with us.

If this story moves you to have expressions of profound gratitude with someone significant in your life, I would love to hear about it.  With your permission I could also share it here on this blog with the hopes that it will ignite sparks for others to pay this message forward.  It is never too early to express gratitude, but it can be too late.

Share your story here. http://thisisthemoment.com/share-your-story/

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

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.

How to Set the Emotional Table for Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Your flights have been paid for and now all that’s left to prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday is gearing up to spend time with your relatives.

For many people this is an exciting time, and for many more it is an anxious and stressful one.  With families come emotional buttons that have been embedded for years and are visible only to a select few.  This can affect the depth and tone of how we communicate with those who have impacted our lives the most.  Add to this the expectations of having the perfect family holiday and it is no wonder Thanksgiving is often disappointing.

The essence of Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on our many blessings, not the least of which are the important relationships in our lives. So could you proactively set the table for a loving and grateful holiday?  What if this may be the last Thanksgiving some of you spend together?  Regardless of your motivation, you can increase the prospects of having a most enjoyable holiday with your family by doing only one thing in advance.  Express profound gratitude.

Here are the very simple steps that will could an enormous impact on how much more relaxed you feel with loved ones.

  1. Make a list of the people you will be seeing who have made a real difference in your life.
  2. Write down bullet points of the contributions each of them have made and how it has impacted you.
  3. Express these sentiments to them – in a letter, email, call, poem, conversation, etc.

To help you in this 3-step process, download the Free Guide to Creating Your Own Gratitude Conversations by signing in at the bottom of the  website.

What better way to set the table for a relaxing and appreciative holiday than telling people how much they mean to you.  There is no need to bring up past grievances, just share what you love about them, to them and for them.  It is not who they are that matters the most, it is how they have impacted you that is the premise of these conversations.  You will be amazed at how great you feel and how easier family gatherings can be when people are in a state of gratitude.

An alternative to communicating in advance would be to plan to a one-on-one conversation with your life influencers.  If you choose this approach, make sure you have this discussion in a quiet place so that you both can get and give your full attention to each other.  You may want to record the conversation so that you can save it and savor it for the future.  Have someone take a picture of the two of you together and capture the memory of this moment.

I would love to hear how your conversations went or how expressing profound gratitude changed the tone of your Thanksgiving holiday.  Please share them either below in the Comments section or  privately by submitting them on the Share Your Story page of this website.

For more information about how to have these powerful gratitude conversations, check out my book, This is the Moment.  Consider writing a personal inscription inside the cover and presenting it as a special gift or hostess gift.

Do Tough Guys Know How to Say Thank You?

Friday, October 29th, 2010

While there is no absence of books on how men should learn to express their emotions, have you seen it first-hand?  Have you seen it more in younger generations then in older ones?

For both men and women it is a rare phenomenon to practice expressing deep gratitude to those that have made a real difference in our life while everyone is alive and well.

Here’s some both startling and encouraging news.  I just spent a year of my life traveling about the United States and even abroad to visit with those people who had made an important difference in my life so I could express my deep gratitude.  I visited with 44 people, 80% of whom were men.

During these extended conversations, not one of these men was uncomfortable receiving my heartfelt expressions of appreciation for their contributions to my life.  Just the opposite – they were touched and honored by this gift of gratitude.

“I felt it was a gift of self recognition” described one very big-time executive.

It was enlightening for me to learn that even very smart people aren’t aware what they’ve said or done has made such a difference.  The impact of my expression of gratitude was manifold.  Not only did it feel good for the person to know they had made a difference, they were more alert to the possibilities of helping others in a similar way in the future.

These relationships had been long and meaningful, averaging some 25 years.  My expressions of gratitude were neither superficial nor based on a singular event.  They were reflections on the variety of ways they had influenced me and how each had impacted my life.  Personal gifts are always appreciated.  These explicit expressions of deep gratitude is what made the gift even more special.

Although the primary focus of these dialogues was for me to express my gratitude to them, without exception they took the opportunity to reciprocate.  When they did, they realized the joy that comes from giving this deeply personal gift. Without exception, these men were very appreciative that I had “set the table” for this dialogue to happen and none of them missed the opportunity to take advantage of giving their gift of gratitude to me.

Almost all had acknowledged that they would have felt bad had something happened to one of us and those expressions would have remained unsaid. Several of these men have already further demonstrated their enthusiasm by setting up their own conversations of gratitude.

Almost everyone has experienced the sadness and regret from not having said what we would have liked before the person dies.  We think we have paid tribute and spoken to this person when we are given the opportunity to give a eulogy at a funeral but the reality is the person who most would appreciate the expressions of respect and gratitude is no longer here.

It is clear from my year long journey that men “get it” and they are very comfortable “giving it”. And I am not referring to just 30 or 40 year olds.  All ages, young and old alike.

My hope is that men and women alike will pay it forward and that expressing profound gratitude to those who have made a real difference in our lives will become usual and customary.  I am confident, based on my experience that men are more than up for it.

Greetings and a very warm welcome

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Greetings and a very warm welcome,

I am so pleased that your curiosity has brought us together.

In all my years of working with people, I have always aspired to exceed their expectations and in some way to make a difference in their lives. I make the same promise to you.

I will enrich your life and those people that have been really important to you. Specifically, I will raise your level of consciousness of the power of expressing deep gratitude while you and your life influencers are alive and well. I will show you how to do it in your own way and on your own terms. Promise.

You will find it very rewarding to give this personal gift and in the process enhance your important relationships and achieve peace of mind. Promise.

Can you imagine not having any regrets and pain from what has been left unsaid?

What would I like in return? I would really appreciate it if you would share your stories with me of the joys from giving your gifts of gratitude. I would love to hear about your journey here on the website by clicking on the Share Your Story tab. My hope is that each of you can “ignite sparks” in our community and become part of this transformational movement.

Ignite your spark,

Walter Green

Author, Family Man, Friend, Entrepreneur, Mentor and Philanthropist