Thankfulness is not trite. It can be portrayed as such, but in actuality, it is quite a bit more. Being face to face with someone who wants to express his/her gratitude to you is humbling, heartfelt and, well, special. When those in my lifetime have sat me down to express a sentiment of thankfulness or if I have received a note to say as such, I am always taken aback.
It reminds me that my life means much more to many more than I realize. It's so very easy to be swallowed by duty and responsibility. I have a family, a job, a church...I define myself by function. And yet, what matters most is not those roles but the way in which those roles impact the relationships connected - the people who value the work I do, the involvement in my church programs or the love in action for my family. I define my life by what I do. Gratitude shakes me back to what my life should really be about - relationships.
The story of my life has been marked by incredible difficulty and incredible pain, but those things do not define me. If it does, it takes my eyes off of the incredible beauty and incredible blessing in my life. So many people, so much love, so much to appreciate. Each one of us has a decision to make each day - am I going to be a benefit or a distraction to those around me? I can control my behavior...I am not a victim. I can rise above the pettiness around me, if there is any. I can choose to be a beacon of positivity in my work culture. I can be grateful for where I am.
Gratitude is powerful. I am amazed constantly at the impact of being thankful. I don't know why I am amazed. I have seen it happen plenty. But I forget so easily.
During this week where it's easy and convenient to be thankful, let's think about ways that we can be more grateful all year. I know that I can raise high the banner for what it will do to the workplace or to the family, but I think it's more than that. When a habit of gratitude is lived, a life is really lived.
The story of my life needs to be about being thankful. This isn't about self-help. It's not about being a great leader. It's not about being a good employee. It's about you. All of those things mentioned will happen when you're grounded. And gratitude is grounding.