As I close and place the book on my desk, I am smiling through the tears. I’m reminded that it is God Who brought this little paperback into my life only a few months ago. And I believe that it has made its way into my possession for a far greater purpose than merely my personal benefit. I believe He had you in mind as well.
I sense that God is revealing to me a tiny glimpse of what is to come, and I can hardly stand the anticipation! You and I are in for one beautiful adventure, and I can’t wait to hear the stories that will come from our journey together!
From this very simple little book, to the subsequent articles I am writing, to the ebook project already well underway, it’s hard for me to put into words the gamut of emotions whirling around inside of me. In this divine glimpse into the future, I have great expectations that our lives are getting ready to change for the better. And I pray that you’ll stick around for what is to come in the next few weeks as I cannot wait to share!
So, with my face still wet from happy tears, I’ll let you in on what has become a predominant theme to me over the last three weeks. And while there is so much to tell you, I do not want to overwhelm anyone with too much information right now. In time, I’ll unpack more. But for now…
May I ask you a few questions? Just between you and me?
Have you ever wished that you could connect (or reconnect) with others on a more meaningful level than what you are currently experiencing? Have you ever wanted to let someone know that you appreciated or admired them for something but never carried through in delivering your message of gratitude for them? And have you ever had the intention of sending a note of appreciation only to find that before you could follow through, it became too late and either the person left the situation or worse, passed away?
If your answer is ‘yes’ to any of these questions, I’m right there with you. And honestly, I don’t understand this about myself. I am one who claims to understand the weighty importance of writing to others. Even this blog reflects the ongoing theme of my conviction to leave a paper trail for those we care about, therefore implying that I should be a master at this writing thing, right? But, life gets busy and the best intentions are blown to the wayside by the gale-force winds of our fast-paced lives. But top the busyness with an insatiable need to do things with near-debilitating perfection and I become guilty of putting off til tomorrow what I am convicted to do today. Procrastination can get the best of the most well-intentioned individual and right now, I am, as the Apostle Paul proclaimed, “the chiefest among sinners”.
So if your answers were a negative affirmative (that’s a thing, right?) to the scenarios mentioned, I want to encourage you to invest the next few minutes of your time into seeing how easy it is to make a difference in someone’s life—even today. Trust me. Even today you can touch a life and make a greater impact than you ever thought possible. TODAY YOU can be a blessing!
Now, about the book I just finished…
For those who know me well, hearing me say that I actually finished a book is not a common thing for me. True confession: Because of my struggle with attention deficit, I tend to scroll through books quickly, picking and choosing what I need to learn and then moving on to the next, as all of my books are of the self-help/God-help kind. And even if I start with the intent of reading cover to cover, I rarely complete what I start. (sigh)…it ain’t easy being me sometimes.
This was not the case with this little book. Once in my hand and only a few pages into it, I knew I needed to complete this one. Maybe because it was a fast and easy read. But probably more so because of my passion to spur us onto the art of note and letter writing. Plus I was curious to learn of the outcome of the author’s year-long journey.
The book is called, A Simple Act of Gratitude: How Learning To Say Thank You Changed My Life. It’s a true story of one man’s struggle to learn to live a life of gratitude, even while finding himself in the worst of circumstances. In his story, John Kralik shares how during a New Year’s hike along the Echo Mountain trail in California while at the lowest point in his personal and professional life, he heard a voice speak to him. (He never specifies who’s voice it is, but I’m not hung up on this.) The voice told him that until he could learn to be grateful for the things he had been given in life, he would not attain the things for which he was striving. He explains that the voice was loud enough and very uncharacteristic of the thoughts in his own head, that he felt he should listen.
While sitting at the ruins of an old hotel on that mountain, simultaneously reflecting on the ruins of his own life, he decides to heed the prompting of the voice. He makes a decision to begin showing gratitude to those who had been kind and generous to him at any point in his life. He determines that he will write a note of thanks to one person every day for an entire year with the final goal of handwriting 365 notes.
Three days into the New Year, John still hadn’t thought of anyone to write a note of thanks to. He was already running behind on his resolution.
Finally, he decides that the easiest place to begin is with those who had given him Christmas gifts a few weeks earlier. He had never written any thank-you notes for such gifts before but wondered why he hadn’t. John poses the question of why the practice of writing thank-you notes for gifts received had become such a rare practice. He knew of no one else who had ever written them either. “Even when finances and the economy are desperate, cultural pressure tells us we must rally, sacrifice, and go into debt to maintain the annual Christmas gift ritual. But where is the equivalent tradition of gratitude?” he writes.
Throughout the book, John shares how with his notes of thanks sent, many people would actually respond back enthusiastically thanking him for thanking them! Imagine that!
As I contemplated all that I had read, I couldn’t help but realize that the need for any affirming appreciation is a real need in society today. At least it was for me, as I shared in this post. People rarely receive any lasting heartfelt gratitude from others nowadays. In the process of our ever evolving world of technology and a more hands-off approach for humanity, people are dying to be told that they are loved, worthy, and valued. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that:
…people are dying never having been told that they are loved, worthy, or valued. People long to know that their lives matter. That someone is actually grateful that they exist and that the world is better because they are here.
Through his year-long journey, John also begins to understand that the simple act of writing notes of thanks does as much for the writer as it does for the reader. Gratitude unlocks a fullness of satisfaction in both parties. Both parties benefit in countless ways from this simple act of gratitude.
But what are some of the benefits?
In our next time together I’ll share many of the benefits that come from having a heart that’s filled with gratitude and isn’t hesitant to show it! You see, it doesn’t do any good if you don’t openly express your appreciation to another. If we choose to keep our gratitude to ourselves, we become guilty of William Arthur Wards’ observations when he said, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
Join me in a movement, won’t you?
May I suggest that you join me in a movement toward living a life that expresses gratitude? We need to take steps towards a more content, peaceful, and happy heart. Such a heart exists when it is filled to over-flowing with thanksgiving!
Inspired by John’s goal, I have decided to set one of my own. Perhaps you’ll consider joining me. Though not as ambitious as his 365 notes in 365 days, I know that it’s still important, at any level, to set goals for ourselves. And while I do not know where the project will take us, I do know that both the writers (me and you) and our recipients will reap beautifully from our sowing seeds of gratitude into others.
Having been motivated for what I feel is possible even in my small circle of influence, I’ve decided that a campaign is in order. A movement, if you will. A call to action resulting from a strong conviction. Yea. That’s it!
I invite you to be a part of the “I Am Grateful” movement. It begins on April 1, and in my next post I’ll help us to prepare! But for now, mark your calendars with these words, “I AM GRATEFUL!”
It’s going to be so rewarding and fun as we surprise others with the unexpected and the very uncommon! Many lives will be blessed through the time we invest.
So what is my plan?
My hope is that beginning April 1 and for the entire month, we will set out to write a note of appreciation and gratitude to 30 individuals who have contributed to our lives in any way. The note does not have to be for a specific tangible gift that we received recently. Though, if you’ve received one recently and haven’t sent a note of thanks, that may be a good place to start, right? Perhaps it will be for a gift that we received years ago, reminding them that their thoughtfulness is still appreciated. Our note may be one of thanking someone for the influence they had on us at a certain time in our history.
Have I scared you off yet? If 30 notes in 30 days is too lofty of a goal for you, that’s okay! Consider what goal works best for you! Perhaps you’ll write a note once a week. Or maybe you can write a batch of four to seven thank-you’s on a specific day of each week of the month. Go ahead and address and stamp them while you’re at it! And then just mail one a day!
Don’t let this scare you. Your cards can be small with enough room for only three to four lines. Being wordy isn’t the name of the game. Being sincere is. And I’ll help you in honing your message in the next post.
But for now, let us determine to shower some notes of gratitude on others in April! As in, “April showers bring May flowers”! Get it? Punny, aren’t I? But seriously…what flowers will blossom in someone’s life because of our April showers?
If you’d like to read the book that I mentioned before or during our campaign, go for it! If you’d like to grab some paper and get a jumpstart by making a list of a few names of people to bless during this campaign, go for it!
All I ask is that you come back next time and let me help you see an even bigger picture of the potential that the month of April holds for us. I don’t believe you have one thing to lose. And my hope is that you gain tremendously in watching your sincere gratitude spread joy like wild fire!
Until next time, BE grateful!