November 18, 2014

What Are You Grateful For?

I don’t know where it started or why it started. I focused on it the last couple weeks and have concluded it is so common you might think it is now normal.

To hear someone say “thank you” or “you're welcome” is becoming the exception.

Maybe you have noticed it too - at Starbucks, the grocery store, at work, or maybe in your own home.

A nod, a wink, a shrug of the shoulders, or no acknowledgement at all has replaced “thank you.”

Say “thank you” and you are more likely to hear “no problem,” than “you're welcome.”

This brings me to Thanksgiving. The first Thanksgiving was truly a celebration. Governor Bradford gathered the colonists, in 1621, to celebrate their survival and the blessing of a good harvest.

Should we be concerned that we may be losing a sense of gratitude and thankfulness? We should given the undeniable benefits of gratitude.

Research over the last 10 to 20 years shows that people who embody, demonstrate, and practice gratitude are more energetic, enjoy better health, are less likely to deal with addiction or depression, earn more money, and sleep better.

In a study of high school students, Dr. Jeffrey Froh, a Hofstra University professor found the most grateful students had more friends and higher GPAs. Their less grateful counterparts had lower grades, higher levels of envy, and were generally more unhappy.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It 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.

— Melody Beattie

The greatest of human freedoms is our choice of attitude. Gratitude is a constant attitude of thankfulness and appreciation.

Our circumstances can and will change for both good and bad. Our ability to choose gratitude and see the abundance around us and within us is essential to heathy living.

So, as I prepare for Thanksgiving I am doing two things.

  1. Making a commitment to say thank you in every possible circumstance and situation where someone does something of service, however small.
  2. Made a gratitude list which has opened my eyes to the great abundance I have in my life.

Here is my list of things I am grateful for. I started to list them with some logic and order but given that my love of Coca Cola is number 30 on the list, the order is no longer important. Some of the things I am grateful for live on, and some are memories that inspire and encourage me.

I hope this list might inspire you and your family to think about the things you are grateful for.

  1. Gift of salvation - it all starts and ends with Jesus.
  2. My wife Kristi - she loves me and inspires me to be a better husband and father.
  3. Parents - who loved me, supported me and encouraged me.
  4. Matthew & Andrew - my sons who have made my journey as a father so incredible.
  5. All the special trips and experiences with the boys. Every one of them was special.
  6. Johnny, Nicholas, & Katherine - my nephews and niece who, after their dad died, added to the blessing I have enjoyed as a father.
  7. Kathleen - allowing me to be so involved and engaged with Johnny, Nicholas, and Katherine.
  8. Bob - my brother who calls me every Friday to just check in and see how I am doing.
  9. Debbie - my sister whose heart for people is so incredible.
  10. Career - my work provided so many great opportunities for leading, learning and earning.
  11. Home - my favorite place to be.
  12. Mentors & Coaches - George, Butch, Pete, Rich, Larry, Charlie, Tom, Kevin, Jerry and Jim who provided and some continue to provide great counsel and support.
  13. Books - the gift of knowledge.
  14. All the people who stayed in touch with me after I retired from xpedx.
  15. Education - W.S.U., Pepperdine, and Stanford provided rich and important learning opportunities.
  16. Teachers and professors - particularly Mr. Jones, Mr. Clark, and Dr. Ashby who encouraged my potential.
  17. The example my dad set as a husband, father, and provider.
  18. Golf - so many great opportunities to meet wonderful people and experience great venues.
  19. Playing golf with Andrew, Johnny, and Brian at Bandon Dunes.
  20. Traveling with Matthew to check out law schools and watching NCAA basketball tourney at a great venue in Milwaukee.
  21. Work friendships of people I could count on in every condition and circumstance.
  22. Readers - the support of my writing, coaching and teaching.
  23. Encouragement - the gift of and the willingness of others to share with me.
  24. W.S.U. - Go Cougs! I am grateful for the education, the thrill of a few victories, and knowing we can “Coug it” anytime.
  25. Health - it is so fragile and can be lost in a moment.
  26. CBS (Community Bible Study) - the blessing of their leadership team to Kristi.
  27. Cursillo - a weekend I will always remember.
  28. Purpose - to know who I am working for and why.
  29. Southern California - blessing of great weather. I like grilling outdoors in January!
  30. Coca Cola - it may not be good for me but I do enjoy it when it comes from McDonalds.
  31. Texting - the power to stay-in-touch, encourage, inspire, and motivate.
  32. Raving fans - all of the wonderful friends and people I have worked with through the years that have provided endless support of my new work.
  33. Friends - those you know you can count on when you need help.
  34. Growing up with a little so I now know what a lot looks like.
  35. Small Group - fellowship, support, and encouragement.
  36. Calls from friends and associates asking me to speak.
  37. God children - blessing of being able to pray for and support their walks with the Lord.
  38. Master mind group - Josh, Jessie, and Thomas whose support and encouragement is priceless.
  39. Pictures of great memories and people. I wish there were more.
  40. Dallas Willard - the wisdom in his writing is an incredible gift.
  41. The Bible - all the lessons of life I will ever need to know.
  42. Music - inspiration and energy.
  43. Simon, Sandy, & Nicole - time, expertise, and support in the pursuit of Impactful Notes
  44. Tom Coss - gift of his time, encouragement, and support in the pursuit of Impactful Notes
  45. Stewardship - the ability to share my time and resources to serve the hungry, homeless and suffering.
  46. Writers - the influence of Chip Ingram, Steve Farrar, Andy Stanley, Billy Graham, Patrick Morely, E.M. Bounds, A.W. Tozer, C.S. Lewis, Chuck Swindoll, Andy Andrews and Francis Chan is an on-going blessing.
  47. Michael Hyatt - learning experiences and shared knowledge that has helped me transition to a new career.
  48. Joe MacKrell - gift of his time and expertise in the support of my mission.
  49. Walt & Donna Marie Sebring - their kindness and generosity were invaluable when we moved to Southern California.
  50. Challenges and adversity - teaching me how to forgive, how to fight, and how to learn from the journey.
  51. Anaheim Ducks - to experience a Stanley Cup final and touch the Cup! Thanks Teemu.
  52. Monday morning writing.
  53. Purpose - pursuing impact that will last beyond my years.
  54. Jim Suski - the example he provided! Always positive, optimistic, and enthusiastic.
  55. Uncles - Roland, Perry and Stan for always remembering me on special days and showing up to stand in for my dad when he was overseas.
  56. Patience - I may be in a hurry, but God’s timing is always right.
  57. Clean water to drink.
  58. Church - community dedicated to “Knowing Christ and Making Him Known”.
  59. Mom’s apple pie - always a treat.
  60. Handwritten notes - gifts that truly come from the heart.
  61. Trips to the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Moose Lodge in Cooperstown, NY.
  62. John Kolendich - a wonderful friend who died too young.
  63. Youth sports - all the kids I had the chance to coach and the parents we shared time with.
  64. Leadership - blessing to have worked with so many great people over the years.
  65. Christmas - the blessing of family gathered in celebration.
  66. Trips to see The Masters.
  67. Every trip I made to share a meal and a game with the boys while they were in school.
  68. Trips to Dairy Queen remind me of my dad.
  69. Chili dogs at Portillo’s shared with Pete.
  70. Trips with the boys to MLB parks.
  71. If you have gotten his far, thanks for reading.
  72. Sitting in the cheap seats at old R.F.K. Stadium, to watch the Washington Senators, with my Dad.
  73. Going to Pac Bell Park to watch the S.F. Giants with my boys.
  74. Playing golf at Pine Valley.
  75. Enjoying the beauty of Pebble Beach more times than I can count. Especially the round played with Andrew.
  76. Every audience I have ever had the pleasure of speaking to.
  77. Speaking at my Dad’s funeral.
  78. The few videos, now DVDs, of the boys when they were young.
  79. Tap Room burgers.
  80. Guys night out, on Fridays, with the boys when they were young.
  81. The energy and enthusiasm my mom still has for living and contributing.
  82. All the friends who have supported my mom after my dad passed away.
  83. Sleeping in ICU, with my dad, before he passed away.
  84. A close knit family.
  85. Watching Matthew & Andrew graduate college, with honors.
  86. Texts and conversations with Katherine.
  87. Phone calls, for no reason, from Nicholas.
  88. A weekend with Johnny, at a WSU football game.
  89. People who are quick to ask, “How can I help?”
  90. Holiday hams and all the people we get to share them with.
  91. Internet - a world of knowledge available to learn from and share.
  92. Texting with Matthew and Andrew during Ducks and Cougar games.
  93. Cougars won’t play any more home football games in Seattle.
  94. Dave Reuter and a host of expert helpers who have made themselves available to answer questions to support Impactful Notes.
  95. Lunches with Bill Milligan.
  96. Technology that has helped me launch a new career.
  97. The smell of clean sheets.
  98. Quiet time - a time to learn, grow, and listen.
  99. New opportunities to learn and grow.
  100. Today! 86,400 seconds to make a contribution and have impact.

“God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say “thank you?” 

— William Arthur Ward

Share one thing you are grateful for.


18 comments on “What Are You Grateful For?”

  1. 1. My parents for always supporting me in every chapter of my life.
    2. Jim Akers for his wisdom and general concern for every human being.

    1. James, we are so blessed to have the opportunities and blessings we enjoy. Being the son of a career military man I too am grateful for all who have served to preserve our freedoms.

  2. I am thankful for you and your almost-always-funny sense of humor. You've been keeping me laughing for all these years.

  3. Hi Jim,

    Thankful for your incredible friendship over the last 30 plus years!

    Happy Thanksgiving to you Kristi, Matthew and Andrew!

  4. Well Done Jim! How appropriate that I started my day today reading this wonderful post, because I normally start each day with a gratitude list of my own and a lovely walk on the beach. This morning however, with my new job, I have an early morning conference call with folks on the east coast and I slept in, so my walk will have to wait until this afternoon and my spiritual practice, well, it's going to be bits and pieces and that's ok sometimes.

    So this morning, with just a few minutes to spare, I turned on the computer and saw this post. God is so Great...always delivering just what I/we need. I am grateful to YOU, for your support over all of these years, for your mentoring, for your positive attitude and for your friendship. You are truly an inspiration and having you in my life is a real gift. Happy Thanksgiving to you, Kristie, Matthew and Andrew!

    1. Catherine, thanks! Glad this post created a perspective that is supportive. Encouragement can be fleeting and we need a steady dose of it to help us reach towards our potential. Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

  5. Great post, Jim! Amongst many other things, we are so grateful to have you and Kristi as our neighbors and friends. I'm grateful that we are friends despite the fact that I'm a Kings fan. In reference to #29-- I appreciate smelling your yummy grilling and for your grilling tips 🙂

    1. Goly, I am equally grateful to have you as a neighbor. We delight in seeing Mateen and a conversation, over the fence, while in front of the grill is always fun. You are my favorite Kings fan.

  6. Jim,
    I won't list 100 things that I am thankful for, but it would be easy to do.
    I am thankful for and to all the people who set the examples for me to follow.
    - for my father who continues to demonstrate day in and day out what it means to be responsible and take responsibility. He is man who instilled in me the work ethic I tried to emulate for my entire professional career.
    - for my mother who taught me that if you were going to do something, you should put your all into it and do it right. That no detail is too small to ignore.
    - for my parents, who as a team, still insist on picking me up from the airport when I fly into town for a visit, despite the fact that I am into the 5th decade of my life.
    - for my husband who has loved me unconditionally from the first day we met.
    - for our daughter Katie, who has and continues to make me so proud.
    - for managers like you, that became mentors and friends.
    - for colleagues who became friends and continue to be the best friends I have.
    - for those people who do remember the simple kindness of saying Thank you and You're welcome.

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