It is powerful, impactful and life changing. We are drawn to focus on it once a year, but rarely reap its full potential because we get absorbed in daily routine and don’t sustain it. It doesn’t cost anything to acquire, but is priceless when it is shared.
On a crisp fall day, in 1863, in Northern Pennsylvania, a boy was selling goods door-to-door so he could pay his way through school. After nearly a full day of work he was getting hungry. Reaching into his pocket he found only a single dime. As he approached the next house, he decided he would ask for some food.
When he rang the bell, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman answered the door. Instead, he politely asked for a drink of water. She invited him to sit down at the kitchen table and retrieved a large glass of milk for him.
As they talked, he drank the milk slowly and eventually asked, “How much do I owe you?” “You don’t owe me anything,” she replied. “Mother has taught us never to accept pay for a kindness.” “Then I thank you from my heart,” the boy replied.
As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but his faith in God and man was strengthened also. A simple act of kindness, repaid with a simple thank you, gave him the strength and courage to press on.
Years later, that young woman became critically ill. The local doctors were baffled and engaged the help of specialists in pursuit of finding a remedy. Dr. Howard Kelly was called in for the consultation. When he heard the name of the town she came from, he immediately went to visit her.
When he entered her room he instantly recognized her as the young woman who had kindly extended him much needed hospitality. From that day forward, he worked tirelessly to solve her case. After a long and difficult struggle, she was restored to full health.
Before she was released to go home, Dr. Kelly requested her final billing be sent to him for approval. He took the billing, added some comments in the margin, and then had the bill delivered to her room.
She looked at the envelope for a moment fearing to open it. Given the duration and extent of her care she was sure it would take the rest of her life to pay for it all. Upon opening it, her attention was immediately drawn to the comments written in the margin.
“PAID IN FULL WITH ONE GLASS OF MILK.”*
A heart filled with gratitude is a life changing force. Melody Beattie captures the essence and power of gratitude writing,
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life – it turns what we have into enough, and more. Gratitude turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. Gratitude can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
Thanksgiving is a day to take time for reflection—to consider and acknowledge all the blessings we have in our lives.
By turning a day of thanks into a way of life, gratitude will keep your eyes open to the abundance of blessings in your life. By regularly expressing, demonstrating, and sharing gratitude you will grow more optimistic, improve your outlook on life, reach more goals, sleep better, exercise more, and positively impact the people in your life.
Give thanks in all circumstances and surround yourself with grateful people and you will be infused with energy and enthusiasm that fills you with sustaining joy.
*Dr. Howard Kelly was a distinguished physician who, in 1895, founded the Johns Hopkins Division of Gynecologic Oncology at Johns Hopkins University.