Monthly Archives: September 2012

Gratitude – Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Good Monday Morning,

This past week, I had several inspirations that I wanted to share and it was difficult choosing. But, after no less than three related events, it was obvious which one I was supposed to send out.

Call it gratitude, thankfulness, or just plain being grateful for the gifts we’ve been given we often overlook and forget to say thanks for them regardless how little or small the gift may be. On three separate occasions over the week, I was reminded that it’s more than “saying” thanks for those gifts we’ve been given; rather, it’s all about demonstrating through the use of those gifts our gratitude for what we’ve been given. Saying thanks, or giving praise, for those attributes that have been bestowed upon us is certainly a necessity but, importantly – it’s how we use those gifts that is the tangible, outward indication to everyone that we are thankful for the gift – we use that gift in gratitude for having received the gift. And, the interesting side effect is that when demonstrated outwardly, “the gift keeps on giving.” It becomes another of those self-fulfilling situations.

On these separate occasions, I was reminded of gratitude through the demonstrated use of unbelievable gifts bestowed on people through their use of them. The eyeopener was that these demonstrations were by individuals with significant handicaps that should have kept them from even being able to use the gift that they had been given; much less being able to use the gift in a world-class manner. And, that’s what left me absolutely speechless and in awe.

The first was a Brit named Nicholas McCarthy who has just graduated from the Royal College of Music in Britian. I heard an interview segment with him on NPR on my drive home. I immediately knew that this was someone special and what a phenomenal pianist. He spoke of his love for music which began at an early age and the desire to become a renowned composer and performer. The dialogue was extremely engaging and you could just tell that this was a man with a rare gift, wanting to share that gift of music with the world. To revive an interest in classic piano and personally take this as his calling in life. There were several performances that were breathtaking. I enjoy piano; but, I had heard nothing like this before. What I didn’t know; however, until toward the end of the interview, was that Nicholas has only a left hand and was handicapped. Totally blown away at that point, that’s when I realized, not only gratitude, but, gratitude through adversity.

Later in the week, I happened to be channel surfing and stopped on the show “So You Think You Can Dance”. I’m not usually a fan; but, decided to stop and watch. What ensued totally blew me away. On stage was a performer named Jean Sok dancing like a gazelle. I’m not a fan of modern dance; but, he was graceful, inspiring, and captivating. To begin with, performing on this show you already have to be pretty good. Here’s a guy that was a guest performer on the season finale so, you can imagine, he was over the top great. But to make this even more compelling was the fact that Jean had only one leg! Watching him sent chills down my spine and filled me with a clarity of hope, that anything is possible if we have passion and perseverance.

The final example that struck me was Oscar Pistorius the paraplegic from South Africa who ran in the 400-meter in the Olympics. Being athletes, I know you can relate to what it takes to get to the olympics and to be able to perform at this level. The training, the practice, the commitment. It’s no easy task even for someone without a handicap. Imagine, what it must be like for Oscar!

The really contemplative point is this – in these three examples, what’s the real gift? Is the gift the musical ability of Nicholas; the dancing capability of Jean; or the athleticism of Oscar? Certainly, these are attributes and capabilities that are gifts become passion for all of them. But, stop and think. Could their bigger gift be their commitment and resolve that in the face of unimaginable odds to recognize that they’ve been given these “other gifts” and to make the best of the situation and of them. To not look at what’s not there, what’s been taken away, or simply the handicap and rise above that situation to the calling that they’ve been given through another passion that far exceeds even these daunting challenges.

So, be grateful for the gifts with which you’ve been blessed – regardless how small, recognize them as gifts. And demonstrate through the use of those gifts your thankfulness for them. I can almost guarantee that if you do this, what you receive in return will be pretty amazing.

God bless & have a great week.

More Wag, Less Bark

Good Monday Morning,

Like I’ve said in the past, I never know when or where the inspiration for this will come.  This is one of those occasions – and, I hope you can relate to this.

I always pay attention to my driving and that sometimes includes reading bumper stickers – safely of course and without getting too close.  This past week, I saw one for a dog kennel and it struck me both literally and figuratively, in the thought process that ensued.

The bumper sticker said, “Visit City Kennel – more wag, less bark”.  I thought what an interesting way to convey the message that you really cared about dogs, and the manifestation of that care was in the manner in which the dog responded to that care – more wags.  Happy dogs were the ones wagging their tails; unhappy the ones barking.  Being dog owners and having used a kennel before, I could totally relate to that very simple statement, I know you can, too.

But, it got me thinking – what a great analogy about how we should live our lives “More Wag, Less Bark” and what were the indicators of being happy or unhappy.  How did that outward appearance of something so simple for a dog tell a much deeper story of that dog’s state of mind and his approachability.  Think about it, which dog are you more likely to approach – one that’s barking ferociously or one who’s wagging his tail wanting to meet and greet you with a big lick on the hand.  I don’t know about you, but the latter always gets my attention.  A wagging tail is the dog’s way of telling us his state of mind – he’s happy, wants to be petted, played with, engaged, etc.

I think people are a lot like this, too.  Which person do you want to be around the person who’s always barking – complaining, not happy, mad, etc.  OR the person that’s always glad to see you, happy, living in the moment and wanting to meet you and be a friend?  It’s a pretty easy choice.  It’s a basic fact of life that people choose and want to be around other people who are happy and who bring happiness to them.  They tend to avoid people who have a bad attitude, are angry, or just plain not fun to be around.  I know you can relate to and know both types.  If you’re like me, you approach those who are generally happy people; you want to meet them and you want them as friends.  We don’t want to be around people who have that aura of unfriendliness. Friendly people make us feel better and we tend to act like they do, too – Happy.

Also, think about the effect this has on you and your state of mind.  When do you feel your best –  when you’re being friendly or when you being a grouch.  We act the way we feel and we feel the way we act – it’s a self fulfilling prophesy.  These are pretty simple analogies; but, I think you understand the point here.  People like people who are happy and you feel your best when you’re happy.  AND, there are outward indications that tell others what mood you’re in.  Like the dog, wagging his tail – we automatically know his state of mind. It’s the smile on your face, the laugh, the manner in which you carry yourself, head held high, etc.  It’s your outstretched hand, the hello, the nod of your head.  There are numerous ways that we tell others that we are friendly, approachable, and happy people and in that we invite others to associate with us, to engage, to be a friend.

I know you’ve heard this before; but, I thought this simple analogy and the direct relationship to it since we are pet owners was so simple, yet so telling.  So, as you live this week – “Wag your tail” a little more and “Bark” a little less and I think you’ll see that others will approach you differently and more often – who knows you might even get a ‘treat’, if you’re really good.

God bless & have a great week.

September 2012