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”.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.