- Jacques Maritain, French philosopher (1882-1973)
This time of year we’re encouraged to think about the people and things in our lives that we’re thankful for.
Actually, this is a good thing to do every day. Starting and ending your day with a sense of gratitude helps you keep your difficulties in perspective. Making a list of what you’re grateful for is even more powerful.
And I’d like to recommend another step: Expression of that gratitude.
I’m sure you can think of others who have helped you on your journey, who've made a difference in the way you think about yourself…and life. They've believed in you. Encouraged you. Challenged you. Helped you see strengths in yourself you didn't realize you had.
Have you taken time to let these folks know how much you appreciate them for their influence on your life?
Too often those moments pass without acknowledgement, and the other person has no idea of the positive effect his or her words or actions have had.
In my first career, I taught fourth grade. I still have notes from parents of my students, thanking me for the impact I had on their children during the year they were in my class. Now yellowed because they date back more decades than I care to reveal, these hand-written messages serve as a reminder of individual lives I've been privileged to touch.
If I had not received those notes, I would have had some blind spots about my true skills. I’m quite sure I’d have experienced more moments of self-doubt. Because on a day-to-day basis, teachers face setbacks, frustrations and disappointments that cause them to question the value of their work. They’re not sure if their efforts are noticed or appreciated.
And of course, these doubts are not limited to the world of teachers. Business owners, executives, supervisors, and parents alike have times when they question, “What difference am I making? How do I matter?”
I have to admit, I've long since forgotten the Christmas and end-of-year gifts I received from my former students and their parents. But those hand-written letters of appreciation remain dear to my heart. And after all these years, I can still replay at will the positive comments some of the parents said to me.
So here’s my challenge for you:
Who in your life does not yet know the positive impact they've had on you?
Make a list of these individuals. Figure out how to contact them if you’re no longer in touch.
Do not put this off. Or make excuses. Or think they don’t care.
Pick up the phone or write a letter and thank them. Let them know you’re grateful for the role they've played in your life.
"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us." - Albert Schweitzer, French philosopher (1875-1965)