The word gratitude means "the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness", according to Google. But what does Gratitude mean to YOU?
This evening, my family and I had the opportunity to attend a peace rally led by several pastors in our community to stand with our local law enforcement because "All lives matter". As you know, our country recently has had much division over a horrific situation in Dallas, that was fueled by other recent issues involving persons of color and law enforcement. Today's peace rally happened not because of a bunch of pastors who thought it would be a good idea to do this, but rather because ONE pastor got others involved with this because he had a heavy heart and felt called to be the one to say, "This is enough, we have got to simply LOVE one another!"
I am honored to know this pastor, not because I attend his church (because I don't), but because I have had the opportunity to teach his daughters and get to know his wife really well. This man, let's call him Alan Woods (Because yes, that is his name!), is an African American man, originally from Texas, served in the US Army, and is now a pastor at a small church in the county we live in. Today's rally was his vision because he supports ALL people. He loves ALL people. And he is living in a way Jesus called us live- to show love and forgiveness to all. "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever." Psalm 136:1
As I reflected on this on the drive home, I thought it was fitting I wrote about it today since a put out there today about the act of gratitude on my Facebook and Twitter coaching sites. I started thinking more about this, because during the rally, Pastor Woods encouraged us all to thank a man or woman serving in law enforcement because they are keeping us all protected. Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza spoke and said, "As law enforcement officers, yes, sometimes we make mistakes, we are human. But our job is to serve and protect ALL citizens." Isn't that the truth? Aren't we ALL humans that make mistakes? Yet, not all of us would answer the call to run into danger or protect another human. "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13.
I left with my heart feeling full of gratitude for these men and women who choose to serve and protect, the police officers and law enforcement, the fire fighters, the emergency response teams, and all those who aid in helping others even though their lives could be taken. As for me, when I see one of these professionals, I WILL tell them how grateful I am for them!
Did you know, the word gratitude was used most, whether written or spoken in a manner that was recorded, in 1792 and has steadily decreased since then (although the report ends in 2008 with the use of the word starting to go back up). And I wonder why that is? How is it that the simple word "Gratitude" decline so much in our history? And how do we make it a word we use daily?
Some ways to have an attitude of gratitude is to write it down every day. Perhaps you are attached to your smartphone...don't worry, there's an App for that! When you simply write down the people, things, situations, moments you are grateful for, it becomes more clear to you cognitively of all the good you have in your life.
Another way to have an attitude of gratitude is to physically TELL the person you are grateful for! Doing this also creates in your body endorphin's, the "feel-good" hormones that make you happy! Often times, when you share with someone your gratitude towards them, it results in a hug, and research says that just 2 minutes of hugging a day adds years to your life! WoW! Just a couple small, easy things to do to have an attitude of gratitude, which leads to happiness (which is the basis of positive psychology, my friends!You know, one of those areas I would love to coach you in!)
As I conclude this post, I would like you to think about a couple things: We are lucky to have the law enforcement we do because not only do they protect us from bad things, but sometimes they protect us from ourselves (and that, because it is a first hand experience, is priceless.) We should all be fortunate to have the opportunity to show gratitude towards someone who has helped us, protected us, or shown love to us in some way. And, as cheesy as it is, even Sponge-Bob Square Pants had a song on his cartoon about having gratitude, and well, if Sponge-Bob can teach that to our kids, shouldn't we also be the example of showing gratitude as well???