Gratitude is Contagious!

From childhood we are taught to say “thank you” when we receive help or a gift. Throughout our lifetime, we have uttered the phrase thousands of times. But have you stopped to think about what those words truly mean and the power they possess?
Too often, we are caught up in our hectic lives— work, meetings, time with the family, and squeezing in a few quiet moments for ourselves. We can get caught up in negativity, looking at what is wrong in our lives, instead of focusing on what is right. A few years back a friend and I were talking. She started complaining about circumstances in her life. I gently reminded her that somewhere in the world, at that exact moment, there was someone yearning for what she had. This helped her to focus on the blessings, both big and small, that she had been given. Through a daily practice of gratitude, the negative voices quieted, bringing her a renewed sense of peace and joy.
In offering thanksgivings, it is easy to list our close family, friends, health, and material possessions. But think about what else in your life you are thankful for? Is it a sunrise, the laughter of a child, a smile, unsolicited compliment, or act of kindness? Think about the people you encounter every day. It could be the bank teller, restaurant server, or a person in line with you at the store. How are they appreciated by you? Let them know it. You never know how your simple words of thanks will influence someone or the ripples of kindnesses it can create.
A story brought to my attention just this week is a great example of widening your circle of appreciation. An unsuspecting pizza delivery man was surprised with more than a standard tip. During a recent church service, the president at Indiana Wesleyan University asked students to write the nicest things they could say about someone—a pizza delivery person. The notes of thanks, along with monetary donations, were collected. The university president then ordered two pizzas while the audience waited. When the delivery man arrived with the cleaning services , he was brought on stage and presented with the money and nearly 3,000 notes of gratitude. The students stood and cheered for the man. Astounded by the kindness, the man said he didn’t plan on spending the money on himself but for gifts for his two young children.
Our little ones are watching and listening to our words and actions. Be a role model. Weave words of thanksgiving into everyday conversation. Encourage them to show their appreciation for others at all times of the year. Make cards to take to a nursing home. Take special treats to the fire department or police department. These tokens of gratitude can transform and inspire.
Gratitude is contagious. Let’s spread it around and change the world!