I’m delighted to have Walter Green, author of This is the Moment: How One Man’s Yearlong Journey Captured the Power of Extraordinary Gratitude (Hay House, Oct. 2010), as my guest today. He has an amazing perception of gratitude and how to make it a working part of your life. With Thanksgiving in a week, this is a perfect time to find more ways to express your own gratitude. Here’s what Walter has to say:
By Walter Green
When you hear the word “gratitude” what comes to mind? Perhaps it is being appreciative of the good things in your life such as health, friends, family and finances. How often do you take time to appreciate them either through internal or external recognition?
Living with an “attitude of gratitude” has been a hot topic in the last few years and I can certainly understand why. I have been grateful for the many blessings in my life and recognize the emotional and physiological benefits I get from acknowledging my good fortune. I give thanks when I wake up in the morning that I am alive and I have another day to do something good. My gratitude continues when I take a shower. How great is it that you can turn a lever and almost magically fresh water embraces me and even more amazingly if I turn the lever further the water gets warmer or cooler. How remarkable. The experience not only wakes me up but it “awakens me.” As the day progresses, I think about all the other blessings in my life…food on the table, fresh air, modern conveniences, and people in my life. Like many of you, I have developed an attitude of gratitude or at least I try to.
However that is what I refer to as internal expressions of gratitude. Recently I experienced the rewards of going much deeper with my gratitude. I went on a yearlong journey to express my deep gratitude to those who had made a real difference in my life (all 44 of them).
I felt I had struck “pure gold.” This process of externally expressing gratitude affected me in a profound way. I told each of these life influencers how my life had been enhanced because of them and how grateful I was. These relationships had developed on average for more than two decades and I was very specific about the many ways each of these people had influenced my life. The insights from this experience were profound.
It was as if I activated a whole new “muscle group” of gratitude and the personal benefits were enormous and life changing. When I was asked to write about my experiences, I could not pass up the opportunity to share what this experience meant to me and could mean to you in my book, This Is the Moment (Released Oct. 2010 by Hay House).
Giving a personal gift is always special but with the forethought I gave to these conversations, it was the most personal gift I could have given. Only I could have given this gift of my expression of gratitude to these dear people. Sadly, most of us leave these gifts “in our closets” and they are never given. Some think they are delivered when they become the basis for a eulogy but in reality those remarks are always “about” someone and not “to” someone.
Here are just a few of the remarkable benefits I experienced by expressing profound gratitude that I hope will ignite a spark for you.
1. The pleasure of giving this highly personal gift. Even though the person generally knew “how” I felt about them, they had no appreciation for the multitude of ways they had influenced my life. One of the recipients said the conversation was like giving him the power of “self recognition” in that he saw himself in terms of his capacity to impact another human being.
2. The recipient’s joy in receiving. Although I felt I was the primary beneficiary of this experience, the recipient always acknowledged how meaningful it was to hear how they had impacted someone. It was a vivid reminder of how we can help someone even if the act was perceived by us as not that important.
3. Making it easy to reciprocate. The recipient was able to take advantage of me “setting the table” for this discussion of gratitude to express what I had meant to them. Once again, both parties were enriched by these expressions.
4. Having no regrets. I realized after these conversations that I would never have the painful regrets that I had experienced from leaving so much unsaid to those who were no longer physically with us. That itself was enough reason to make this journey of gratitude. Each time I shared details about my journey, I never met anyone who hadn’t suffered regret for words left unsaid.
5. Experiencing an extraordinary peace of mind. We are often reminded to put our affairs in order which usually refers to administrative matters such as important financial records. For me, having had these conversations, I achieved a peace of mind knowing that if anything happened to either myself or the other person I was at peace that there was nothing left unsaid.
I would strongly encourage you to identify one person who has made a real difference to you and let them know specifically how they have impacted you. Think in terms of their affect on choices you made, paths you took and relationships they helped you make.
I decided to visit all 44 people on my gratitude list in person over a 12-month period. You don’t have to express profound gratitude using the same methods I did. You can do it in your own way but make it something unique and special. It could even be as simple as a letter, a phone call, a poem, song, etc. However you choose to do it, you will be the better for it. Ignite a spark even if with just one person.
Walter Green is the author of This is the Moment: How One Man’s Yearlong Journey Captured the Power of Extraordinary Gratitude. He was Chairman of the Board and CEO of Harrison Conference Services for 25 years, during which time it grew into the leading conference center management company in the U.S. He’s lectured at the Wharton Graduate School of Business and Hofstra and Long Island universities. Associated for years in the Young Presidents’ Organization and the World Presidents’ Organization, he’s presently an active member of the Chief Executives Organization and the L3 Organization (Leadership, Legacy, Life). Since selling his company, he mentors young adults and is actively involved with several nonprofit organizations.
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