“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” ~ John F. Kennedy
The Jewish High Holy Days are coming up next month. During this time of prayer and introspection, I contemplate the dreaded words of our prayer book, “Who shall live and who shall die.” Basically, my modern interpretation of this means that we plan and God laughs. Namely, life doesn’t always work out as it should. No matter how good we are or how hard we try, things sometimes just don’t go our way.
For example, why does the wealthy philanthropist get cancer and the criminal remains healthy? How is it that a child dies young before even experiencing life? There are so many instances of life’s unfairness without enlightenment. The key word here is enlightenment! And with enlightenment, comes gratitude. And with gratitude, comes a life of meaning and purpose.
Here are a few suggestions of ways in which you can be thankful and/or express gratitude each and every day:
- Count your Blessings: Chances are someone always has it worse than you. By counting your blessings every day, you realize just how fortunate you are. If this is a struggle, simply try beginning each day with one grateful thought. I’ll bet within a week you’re mental list is quite long!
- Journal: This is a great way to recognize that for which you are thankful. To keep a Gratitude Journal write down thoughts, words or even stories that make a positive impact in your daily life. Share it with others to influence how they perceive their own lives. You both will notice an optimistic shift in perspective and learn from one another’s experiences.
- Create a Vision Board of Gratitude: Hang a large piece of poster board where all can see (such as inside the front door of your home). Tape a marker to it and write “What You Are Grateful For” on it as a way to share your thoughts. Invite all who visit your home to jot down meaningful words, thoughts, drawings or names. Soon the board will be filled with words, phrases, pictures and names that inspire gratitude, hope, joy and love in everyone.
- Hand Write a Thank-You Note: Next time you receive a gift, try sending a handwritten note of gratitude. Be specific so that people feel your love and appreciation. When you take the time to acknowledge them with a personal touch, people feel much more deeply connected to you.
- Live in Truth: Do this positively and authentically. Be you at your core and you will live in happiness and peace. This will radiate automatically to be shared with everyone in your life. This allows you to be the positive influence for which others will be grateful.
- Celebrate You: Remember all your strengths and gifts that you share with the world and be appreciative you are able to do this.
As a motivational speaker and wellness coach living with MS, I know that part of living a well life is to be grateful. Being grateful isn’t just about saying, “thank-you” all the time. It is about doing what is right or just; being an authentically good human being; and being modest recognizing there’s a power greater than you alone. Leading a well life is about being a part of the greater whole. When you live this type of life it helps to soften the reality that sometimes, beyond our control, bad things happen to good people.
Two things inspired me to write this article.
First: the title of this commentary, Do Justly, Love Mercy and Walk Humbly with Your God, is engraved on the wall of my synagogue’s sanctuary serving as a reminder to all who worship that this is the way our lives were intended to be lived.
Second: while recently attending the annual luncheon in Chicago for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, I sat with a gentleman who fought in WWII during the Holocaust and volunteered with the Israeli army. Somehow we got on the topic of what our epitaphs would say when we were no longer alive. He said quietly, “Mine will say, I did my best.” And I replied, “Mine will say, she lived a life that mattered.” In fact, both of those statements are all any of us can strive to achieve.
One of my many mantras in life is “Be Present, Be Purposeful, Be Well.” In order to accomplish this it is imperative to do your best, to be grateful, and to “Do Justly, Love Mercy and Walk Humbly with Your God.”
To Your Wellness!