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.