The Difference One Little Word Makes

gratitudeBy Barbara Gruener

Gratitude, my one little word, is on my heart and mind a lot these days, in part because I read a book over the winter break that suggests that we give thanks in all things. But is it possible to look for something to be grateful for in every situation? As I was struggling to wrap my head and heart around that concept, a blog reader at The Corner on Character reflected that she was thankful that her chemo treatments were ending. It puts a new perspective on that one little word – gratitude – doesn’t it? Can we really find something to be grateful for in dangerous incidents? At times of loss and grief? In situations where life didn’t go as planned? So my resolve is to intentionally show more gratitude, to express my thanks more often, to appreciate what I have even in times of trial, to live and breathe gratitude. That’s why it’s my one little word this year.

We started by putting the word “gratitude” on our school marquee. No explanation, no follow-up question, no additional information, just that one little word to get people to think. To make them wonder. To encourage reflection. It begs the inquiry: What are you grateful for and how are you showing it?

And do I have a plan so that my quest to express gratitude with more purpose doesn’t fall by the wayside in the days, weeks and months ahead? Sure do. I’m going to keep a list of people whom I’m grateful for and I’m going to start making weekly phone calls, to affirm them and let them know that I’m feeling thankful to them and counting them among my many blessings. I’m going to refer to these interactions as day-maker calls, because I’m certain that talking with those whom I admire and appreciate will make ordinary days extraordinary, for them and for me. It’ll be a win-win for sure. That’s the difference that gratitude makes, because it’s a gift you give to yourself as you simultaneously give it away.

Need some help making gratitude a habit? Try reading Thanks! How The New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier by Robert Emmons, 20 Gifts of Life by Hal Urban, Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey To Joy by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Living Life As A Thank You by Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons, and One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.

So why not join me in my gratitude journey? Or, better yet, start a new year’s journey of your own. What one little word would you like to focus on this year to help you be better? What can you intentionally do to put that one little word into practice in 2013? What are you already doing that works? What can you tweak to make it better? What can you start that you haven’t tried? How can you keep that one little word fresh and active? And how will you know that you’ve positively influenced or impacted your world and made a difference?

Happy New Year!

Check out more of Barbara Gruener’s articles on her blog here 

3 thoughts on “The Difference One Little Word Makes”

  1. In an interesting twist, I made two day-maker calls before I left the office on Thursday. I was hit head-on crossing a bridge on my way to pick up my son and injured pretty significantly. I was SO grateful to competent first responders and compassionate ER personnel! In all things …

  2. I love this post and the way that you put gratitude on the school marquee. I have all my friends fired up about picking their one word for the year after reading a website called: I think it’s a great way to give the year focus. My word? JOY

  3. I would add to recommend that folks start a gratitude journal and record those things they are thankful for. This was suggested on the John Tetsch radio show and I’ve heard pastors recommend it beyond Thanksgiving Day. When I wrote daily what I gratefully acknowledged at work, home, etc., I found my own attitude changing. Once while at church, a nice lady told me I had a beautiful smile even though there was a little “chaos” happening at the same time. It is contagious.

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