There’s a story about a professor who challenged his students to go 24 hours without complaining. The next morning when everyone arrived he asked them to guess how many of the students were actually able to complete the assignment. The answer was 0- and in his 30 years of handing out this assignment to over 7,000 students, only 4 completed the task successfully.
The professor went on with another challenge for his students, this time each person was take a blank piece of paper and write “I am Thankful for…” then they were to write 3 columns on the page- People – Things – Other. He asked them to think of and write down all of the people they were grateful for – living or not, and to consider all of the things they were grateful for- their bed, running water, etc. In the “Other” column, things like Freedom, Forgiveness and Laughter were written. Finally, he asked them to bring to mind their significant other, finance, partner or best friend and to write a letter on the back of the page with all of the reasons they were grateful for him or her.
The assignment was to read this paper 4 times a day and then to mail the letter to the significant other even if they lived in the same house. It was astonishing to the professor to see the change in such a short period of time. His students were happier, their disposition was calm and enthusiastic, it was quite a dramatic shift for such a short period of time!
Paraphrased from the book “The Seven Levels of Intimacy” by Matthew Kelly
As we enter the month of Thanksgiving, lets challenge ourselves to start a Gratitude Practice. I am encouraged to take the professors challenge, to write the lists and read them everyday in the month of November. I think it would also be great to also send out two “Thank You” or “Thinking of You” greeting cards everyday as well. I’m excited to see what just these two simple changes will create, if nothing else my focus will definitely be shifting.
Gratitude changes our lives. It changes the way we feel about ourselves, they way we feel about life, and the way we feel about others.
Decide today that the only thing that matters is your happiness, and that where-ever or whoever you might have animosity or resentment with, resolve today to give it to God. (Whatever that might be for you- Spirit, God, Ala, Jesus, Buddha, Mother or Father…) No complaining, no defending – just a sweet surrender to allow Love and Gratitude to have its way…