One day I decided to simply list in my mind everything; people and experiences, for which I could be grateful.  The list was frighteningly long. It was also quite insightful. I never quite got to the end of it. This is the kind of stuff I think about when hiking.  In my normal life I don’t have time…No, that is incorrect, I do not take the time to think, reflect, and be grateful. Last year, I wrote a short reflection on Thanksgiving Day.

How does one express profound gratitude except to design a life that reflects obedience and gratitude to the One who gives to each of us our breath?  Yet, I find my actions and speech more often reflect the expectations of others. Rather than being intentional, principled and a leader, I often find myself listening, watching, waiting to see what the expectations are…and responding.

I believe that reflects the human condition.  Therefore, although I am so grateful for my family, health, life’s experiences, work, purpose, freedom, education, wealth, friends, grandkids — all these things; there is something else that stands out.  Indeed, I am so grateful when I receive it. It has become a desire of mine to give it to everyone I can. It can change my attitude in a moment.

When a person gives me a word of praise, I glow.  When I encourage my wife, she flourishes, and I prosper.  When I am told, I have done well, I double down and do better.  When I tell my family, they could not make me prouder, they give me every reason in the world to be proud of them.  The word is affirmation.  It can change the trajectory of a life. 

I can’t wait to tell you how much I appreciate you, what you have done, who you are, the abilities you possess, the passion you share, the inspiration you have given to me.  I am sure that you do not even know the impact you have had in our lives and work, and to our regret, we probably cannot adequately express that except to give you a hug the next time we see you. 

The irony does not escape me that we have the privilege to be grateful for something as intangible as a word of encouragement while millions lack the essentials for a life of dignity, something as simple as access to clean and safe water.


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