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of RED RIVER VALLEY
|November 2004 Character Quality Gratefulness
|During this beautiful time of year we are flooded with warm-hearted thoughts of Thanksgiving.
The smell of a roasting turkey, sweet potatoes, and a hot apple pie somehow makes it easy to
say “thank you”. Giving of thanks, however, need not be a once a year occurrence! We can
always demonstrate the universal quality of Gratefulness. It is simply “letting others know by my
words and actions how they have benefited my life”.
We benefit from hundreds of “behind-the-scenes” people every day. Many people are
instrumental in shaping our lives and making us who we are. When was the last time we
thanked them? Parents teach us the first lessons of life. Siblings teach us true friendship.
Teachers instill important skills. Coworkers help us develop character and reach our goals.
Law enforcement, fire-fighters, and all those in the medical field protect our neighborhoods,
lives, and property. Our soldiers protect all these, and safeguard our most treasured Liberty.
More numerous others than we can count are graciously given to us by God. The list goes on.
You’ll be amazed how much energy and life you get just by recognizing how many things you
have to be grateful for, and seeing the response you get when you show genuine appreciation
to the people responsible. When you see life from a grateful perspective, you will soon begin
thanking people for benefits that come even from unpleasant experiences!
How do we show our gratitude? Gratefulness is an active expression, not a passive feeling.
The essence of gratefulness is to honor the other person, and can be expressed in many
different ways. Begin by making a list of people who have had a part in making you who you are
now. Then take the initiative to express genuine gratefulness to each person in small or big
ways. You can show gratefulness every day by the way you use and treat things entrusted to
your care. Look for ways you can leave somebody or someplace better than when you found it.
A small “thank-you” to someone is no small thing – it can make their day.
What would hinder us from being grateful? Procrastination is the number one offender. We are
not intentionally ungrateful, but “we just don’t have time”. Time goes by, the letter is never
written, and negligence is communicated as ungratefulness. Rigid expectations of another’s
performance will hinder a grateful spirit as well. We tend to overlook what they have done
because they haven’t reached where we think they ought to be. Do not lower your standards
but recognize their efforts where they are, and it will encourage them to earn your praise by
striving higher. Another hindrance is taking things for granted instead of recognizing how they
benefit your life. The false idea of “They owe it to me anyway” is the highest expression of an
ungrateful spirit. Gratefulness requires Humility, because you are acknowledging that you need
that other person and are honoring them for how they have fulfilled it.
The benefits of being a grateful person can revolutionize your life! It is an effective way to
combat depression and bitterness by recalling the many ways others have benefited our lives,
and seeing the joy that results from it. Expressing gratefulness to one encourages others
(especially children) to good works just to hear you say, “Thank you; that meant so much to
me”. Gratefulness changes the atmosphere in your home or workplace. It allows you to focus on
the positive, improving yourself and encouraging others instead of feeling sorry for yourself and
During the holidays it is easy to be grateful. But let us resolve to adopt a grateful spirit into our
character, and carry it into the next year. Remember to: Recognize the benefits in your life;
Make a list of the people who gave them; Look for practical ways to express your gratefulness,
and Invest in others lives the way others have invested in you.
Portions of this article have been adapted from Character First! materials. Visit the Character Council of Red
River Valley at www.character-paris.org. For more information about the Character First! program and
resources contact: Character Training Institute, 520 W. Main Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73102, (405) 815-0001.